Thom Rainer / Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He is also a former pastor, seminary dean, and leader of a church and denominational consulting firm. Rainer is the author or co-author of 24 books, including his new release, “Autopsy of a Deceased Church + 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive.”
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7 Ways to lead unleadable people

After less than four years in his church, the pastor’s frustration bubbled over in a brief, but pointed e-mail. “I am so frustrated, I am ready to leave this church and the pastorate altogether,” he said. “The church members are unleadable.” Although I didn’t think I could find “unleadable” in ...
April 23, 2015   Thom Rainer

Seven reasons why most church outreach programs fail

In my last blog in this space, I addressed the seven habits of outwardly focused churches. This time, I want to look at a related topic: why most church outreach programs fail. One of my passions in life is to help churches move from becoming inwardly focused to outwardly focused. ...
April 09, 2015   Thom Rainer

Seven habits of outwardly-focused churches

It was not a dramatic moment in time, but subtle—almost subtle to be noticed. The trend became evident first in mainline churches, with evangelicals following a few years later. The slow erosion became glaringly apparent after several years. The change of which I speak is the movement away from outwardly-focused ...
March 26, 2015   Thom Rainer

Millennials and the demise of print

As the president of an organization that has huge investments in both print and digital assets, I watch the trends related to the two closely. Current discussions focus on a few basic issues. Digital communication is pervasive and growing. Any metric will affirm that reality. Print as a form of ...
March 12, 2015   Thom Rainer

Six keys to success after building

I find great joy in hearing the stories of churches that had successful building programs. By “successful” I do not mean just the church adequately funded and completed the project. I’m talking about what happens afterwards. I mean that the church continues to have a momentum in ministry, outward focus, ...
February 26, 2015   Thom Rainer

Ten fears of church leaders

I have not hidden my love for pastors and other church leaders. I have said and written on many occasions that they often have a very difficult work. I recently told a large gathering of seminary students to consider seriously their calling, because no one should enter the ministry unless ...
February 12, 2015   Thom Rainer

Seven habits of highly effective preachers

I sometimes listen to preachers with amazement, if not awe. So many of them are incredibly effective in communicating God’s Word, so much more effective than I ever was or will be. I certainly understand that assessing effectiveness is a very subjective assignment. However, put simply, a number of preachers ...
January 29, 2015   Thom Rainer

Ten areas where pastors need training for the 21st century

Any pastor or other church staff member should be prepared in biblical truths, as well as theology. Indeed, you shouldn’t forsake any of the classical disciplines. Nor any of the practical disciplines, such as missions, evangelism, or church planting. Still, American culture has shifted dramatically in a relatively short period ...
January 15, 2015   Thom Rainer

Ten dangers of denial in a declining church

When it comes to churches, the word “declining” can have different connotations. We often think of numerical decline, but the meaning is much broader. It can mean declining influence in the community, decline in effective preaching, or decline in evangelistic impact. The list could continue. Still, most of the time ...
December 30, 2014   Thom Rainer

Eight implications of aging boomer pastors and church staff

On January 1, 2011, the first baby boomers turned 65. On that day, 10,000 boomers reached that milestone. In fact, 10,000 boomers are turning 65 every day, and will continue to do so for a total of 19 consecutive years. The implications are staggering for our nation, our economy, and ...
December 18, 2014   Thom Rainer

Eleven of the most common mistakes churches make

On my travels this year I visited a pastor in Arkansas who reads my blogs faithfully. He expressed gratitude for all the free content, but followed up with a kind plea: could I write some posts that summarize some of the issues I have covered in multiple articles? When I ...
December 04, 2014   Thom Rainer

7 Occasions when you should not hire more church staff

Earlier this year I received a Twitter request to provide guidelines for hiring additional church staff. Not too long ago, you could add staff according to a clear formula. Typically, that meant one full-time minister for every 100 to 200 in worship attendance. Unfortunately, it is no longer best to ...
November 20, 2014   Thom Rainer

9 Ways a pastor can lead a church to become more evangelistic

The influence of a pastor in a local congregation is powerful. Like a parent who can influence—but not ultimately determine—the path of his or her child, so in some ways is the pastor with the congregation. Earlier this year I had a conversation with Tony Merida, lead pastor of Imago ...
November 06, 2014   Thom Rainer

5 Reasons pastors need a sabbatical

The word “sabbatical” has different meanings, depending on the context in which it is used. It has one meaning in the academic community, another meaning in its biblical usage, and still another in many secular settings. For the purpose of this blog, I will define sabbatical in simple terms: time ...
October 23, 2014   Thom Rainer

7 Habits of joyful pastors

I have in front of me the names of 20 pastors I know well. It did not take long to assemble the names by the specific traits I sought. Simply said, I wanted to find out whose names I would include in looking for pastors who are joyful. The list ...
October 09, 2014   Thom Rainer

5 Reasons churches benefit by seeking external help

The pattern is conspicuous. Churches that operate in an isolated and insular fashion are not as healthy as churches that regularly seek outside perspectives. Of course, there will always be exceptions. But, as a rule, those churches whose leaders and members are involved solely in their own ministries tend to ...
September 25, 2014   Thom Rainer

7 Ways pastors (and others) can develop thicker skin

Among the top five most frequent issues I hear about from pastors is criticism. The number of “bosses” a pastor has equals the number of church members. Some are very opinionated, and some of those are harsh critics of the pastor. Not surprisingly, the most common questions I get are: ...
September 11, 2014   Thom Rainer

7 Habits of highly effective church meetings

As a longtime pastor and business leader, I must confess the truth. I used to hate meetings. In fact, I verbally expressed my feelings about meetings being a waste of time. During most meetings I attended, I daydreamed about a dozen other ways I could be spending my time more ...
August 28, 2014   Thom Rainer

7 Ways to respond to power groups in the church

Second of two parts In my last post, I listed eight types of power groups that exist in many churches today. I also noted that a power group per se is not intrinsically bad, since they come in a variety of types and quality. As promised, I am utilizing this ...
August 14, 2014   Thom Rainer

8 Types of power groups in churches

First of two parts This topic will cause some discomfort for many of you. The very thought of the presence of power groups seems contrary to the spirit and grace of the gospel. But since power groups are very real in churches, wise leaders will recognize their existence and learn ...
July 31, 2014   Thom Rainer

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