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.”

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

Seven 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

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

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How your church size impacts decision-making

In Church "A" the congregation makes all of the decisions. In Church "B," committees and the board get involved.

Creating a sustainable ministry platform

How many followers does it take for your ministry to make an impact? What’s the secret to reaching more people? Jodi Hickerson, Programming Director of Mission Church (Ventura, Calif.), reveals how to make the biggest impact in the lives you encounter every day.

Does God care about the details?

Prayers are answered all the time. Yet, sometimes we miss how God specifically intervenes.

Are we growing?

Growth is a trigger for church reorganization.

See More »