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 most recent release, "I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian."
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7 traits of churches with increasing per-member giving

One of the key metrics of financial giving in a church is per-member donations. The important question for congregations to consider is—what is the average giving by each member (or attendee)? Since overall weekly giving is often masked by fluctuations in attendance and membership, the most effective measure is to ...
January 28, 2016   Thom Rainer

Two major, under-the-radar changes in American churches

I never would have predicted these changes would take place so rapidly. Indeed, I am surprised to be writing about them today as major changes. Still, they are a growing reality. These two major changes have a similar theme: decentralization. The first is a decentralization of facilities. The second is ...
January 14, 2016   Thom Rainer

Trends in American churches in 2016

I have been writing on trends in churches for two decades. I certainly don’t have a perfect record, but overall it’s pretty good. My methodology is simple: I observe emerging issues in some churches and extrapolate them into major trends. I am taking this approach with a higher level of ...
December 29, 2015   Thom Rainer

Nine stupid things I did as a pastor

If you want to read the tale of a pastor who really did some dumb things, keep reading. I served as pastor of four churches. It was only by the grace of God and the graciousness of the congregations that I was called and allowed to stay at those churches. ...
December 17, 2015   Thom Rainer

7 reasons some members don't want their church to grow

It is highly unusual to hear church members say that they don’t desire their churches to be obedient to the Great Commission. Indeed, it is common for the members of a pastor search committee to tell a prospective pastor that they are looking for a leader who will guide the ...
December 03, 2015   Thom Rainer

9 ways to deal with church bullies

Second of two parts In my last post in this space, I dealt with the traits of church bullies. In this blog, I will move from descriptive to prescriptive. How do we deal with church bullies? What can we do to prevent such bullying? Here are nine of my suggestions ...
November 19, 2015   Thom Rainer

Nine traits of church bullies

First of two parts Church bullies are common in many congregations. Wreaking havoc, stirring up trouble and creating dissension, bullies typically must have an “enemy.” They aren’t happy unless they are fighting a battle. Typically, they tend to maneuver to get an official leadership position in the church, such as ...
November 05, 2015   Thom Rainer

7 distinguishing habits of highly effective pastors

Determining the effectiveness of a pastor is a highly subjective exercise. While certain metrics may prove helpful, they do not tell the whole story. In that context, I reviewed my 40 years of serving churches in a variety of capacities. Then, in noting the very effective pastors I knew quite ...
October 22, 2015   Thom Rainer

Three most important questions to ask when starting small groups

As I’ve written in the past, the best way to grow your small groups (or Sunday school) ministry is to start new classes. That in itself requires a great amount of leadership, communication and vision. You have to recruit volunteers, train leaders, establish on-ramps and move new people into new groups ...
October 08, 2015   Thom Rainer

7 things to consider if your spouse is not supportive of your ministry

In recent months, I had two conversations where persons serving on a church staff were struggling with their spouses’ lack of support. One was a pastor whose wife felt worn out from the constant stream of criticisms directed at her husband and her family. She was pushing her husband to ...
September 24, 2015   Thom Rainer

Is it time to rethink the church business meeting?

It is unwise to assume all churches do things the same way. I certainly know that the readership of this blog includes leaders from tens of thousands of different churches. Even within the same denomination, there are countless different approaches to church practices. Such is certainly the case with church ...
September 10, 2015   Thom Rainer

7 Reasons churches are too busy

If local churches were humans, most of them would experience burnout. Many congregations are too busy to be effective. Many feature a hodgepodge of seemingly unrelated activities. As a consequence, there is no clear plan or process of discipleship in these congregations. Members are often confused about what they should ...
August 27, 2015   Thom Rainer

8 Reasons some full-time pastors and staff should go bivocational

Some of you reading this post may need to get a new job. Or, at least you may need to get an additional job. Without a doubt, many churches will always need full-time vocational pastors and staff members. I am not suggesting all of you, or even the majority of you, ...
August 13, 2015   Thom Rainer

10 Troubling statements from church leaders and members

If you want your church to move toward a slow yet certain death, make certain your church leadership and membership affirms most of these 10 statements. They are troubling statements. Indeed, they are proclamations that virtually assure your church’s decline and probable demise. All too common What is troubling is ...
July 30, 2015   Thom Rainer

5 Reasons Millennials don't want to pastor established churches

Not all Millennials are averse to serving as pastors or leadership roles in established churches. However, many of them are. Our churches are approaching a tipping point where many are unable to attract Millennial members or leaders. This situation will likely soon be a crisis, which is why pastors and ...
July 16, 2015   Thom Rainer

Top 10 attitudes of healthy, long-term pastors

In my last blog in this space, I shared the leading habits of pastors who enjoy long-term tenure and mostly joyous ministries at the same church. Another key insight I learned from these pastors is how they think. My previous article dealt mostly with their actions. This post refers to ...
June 30, 2015   Thom Rainer

Ten traits of pastors who have healthy, long-term tenures

Imagine what might take place if pastors consistently stayed at churches for 10 or more years. Imagine that their tenure was largely healthy. Imagine what would happen in our congregations through increased stability. Presently, the median tenure of the average pastor at a church is around four years. Simply stated, ...
June 18, 2015   Thom Rainer

8 Things pastors do when their churches are in a slump

The meaning of “slump” is more evident in sports. For example, when a baseball player enters a summer slump, we surmise that he is not hitting as well as he was earlier in the spring. However, for churches, there is no clear-cut definition. Indeed, some leaders wonder if it is ...
June 04, 2015   Thom Rainer

5 Incredible steps to closing the back door in your congregation

If you want to close the back door in your church, read these five incredible steps. By “closing the back door,” I am referring to assimilating newcomers and keeping those who have become a part of the church involved. The sad reality is that many churches have less than one-half ...
May 21, 2015   Thom Rainer

7 Traits of pastors who lead breakout churches

If you want to experience an “aha” moment about revitalizing churches, this research may be the near the top. Most of you have heard the dire information and statistics about congregations in North America. Indeed, I have been among the purveyors of this kind of negative news. For sure, the ...
May 07, 2015   Thom Rainer

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