Last week, Peter Borgdorff, deputy executive of the Christian Reformed Church, announced that Mark Rice is leaving the organization to become the executive director of marketing and publicity for Baker Books and Bibles later this month.
Rice had been director of Faith Alive Christian Resources from 2008 until its dissolution in 2013 as a separate agency of the Christian Reformed Church. The publishing and curriculum functions of Faith Alive continue.
Rice said that the biggest challenge he faced during those five years at Faith Alive was long-term financial stability and revenue growth. “Sales had been sliding, especially in curriculum, since just after the launch of Walk with Me in 2005,” he said. “Some big launches had performed well below expectations.”
Rice said the agency launched several new initiatives, including expanding sales beyond the core CRC audience and expanding into digital publishing and ebooks, but it wasn’t enough.
Rice said that the biggest blessing in the job was the people he worked with, both staff and board. “I was blessed to work with an amazing staff who care deeply for the church and for Faith Alive,” he said. “Coming to work was so much more than a job. It was family.”
But that made his challenges even more difficult.
“The most painful challenge, bar none, was having to face the fact that FA was out of options, and we had to eliminate staff and positions,” Rice said. “Cutting what amounted to about a third of the FA staff is the hardest and most painful thing I’ve ever had to do in my career.”
Rice was pleased that during his tenure Faith Alive was able to develop the Dwell curriculum and its innovative approach to faith formation. He also cited the new Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal that will likely pay back its investment in the first year when, he said, “Many were skeptical that the market even wanted a printed hymnal anymore.”
“I will miss the denomination and its ministry, but this is a good opportunity and I’m looking forward to it. Baker Publishing Group is a terrific company,” he said. “By going there I get to stay in publishing and use my core marketing gifts in the Christian publishing arena.”
Faith Alive Board Dissolved (The Banner)
CRC’s Publishing Ministry Forced to Cut Staff (The Banner)
Faith Alive Experiences Financial Crunch (The Banner)
Faith Alive Director Introduced to Synod 2009 (The Banner)