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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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

8 Areas where many ministers aren't prepared for ministry

My email inbox is full of tragic examples of ministers who entered into vocational ministry with hope and healthy idealism. They had prepared well in the study of the Bible, theology, Church history, and other classical disciplines. They were bright, eager and—with God’s power—ready to change the world. And they ...
July 17, 2014   Thom Rainer

The #1 reason for decline in church attendance

Few people will argue that church attendance in many churches in America is declining. Our own research indicates that the majority of churches in our country are not growing. Most of us have ideas about this development. Many suggest that our nation is shifting away from its Christian roots. Thus, ...
July 01, 2014   Thom Rainer

Four keys to planning for church health

Based on both research and anecdotal evidence, I estimate that nine out of every 10 churches in America are growing at a slower pace than their community—if they are growing at all. That is not a good sign for the church in America. Through the feedback I’ve received on this ...
June 19, 2014   Thom Rainer

Five reasons "kicking the can" leadership leads to disaster

Okay, I’m joining the crowd. As we contemplate the forthcoming congressional and state elections in November, the majority of Americans are tired and angry about political leaders who put off major decisions. Many call this habit of indecisive leaders “kicking the can.” I’m mad at President Obama. I’m mad at ...
June 05, 2014   Thom Rainer

Eight Signs of Fearful Leadership

Over the past few years, I’ve heard the phrase “courageous leadership” used to describe the trait of those leaders who are making a difference today. Unfortunately, we also know many who are in leadership positions where that courage is much less apparent. Indeed, they demonstrate leadership that is best described ...
May 30, 2014   Thom Rainer

Four ways to create unity in your church

In my last post in this space, I reviewed my autopsy of a deceased church, which included the members having “more and more arguments about what they wanted.” This selfishness both created and sustained the one thing no church can tolerate for very long if it hopes to survive: disunity. It is ...
May 09, 2014   Thom Rainer

Autopsy of a deceased church

While this experience dates back about a decade, it is still relevant. It involves my consulting service to a dying church, one whose attendance had peaked at 750 way back in 1975. By the time they asked for my insights, the weekly average had fallen to 83. The now overly-spacious ...
April 24, 2014   Thom Rainer

What worship style attracts Millennials?

Do Millennials really care about what type of worship style is used in their church? My son, Jess Rainer, and I recently spoke in Texas on the topic of the Millennials, America’s largest generation of nearly 79 million persons. Because we coauthored a book titled The Millennials, we have had ...
April 10, 2014   Thom Rainer

Five steps to get beyond sacred cows in church

Many years ago I served as the pastor of a church where I avidly supported door-to-door outreach. As you might imagine, I struggled with leading people to be involved in the ministry. We kept decent records, so I got the old “outreach cards” for the previous year. My brief research ...
March 27, 2014   Thom Rainer

Real leaders apologize

For some leaders, apologies seem to reluctantly emerge—if they come at all. Perhaps they think that a mea culpa will seem like an indication of weakness. Perhaps the leader’s ego is too fragile to admit that he or she made a mistake. Perhaps some don’t believe they are ever wrong.However, ...
March 13, 2014   Thom Rainer

Eight common money questions pastors ask

Because my background lends itself to such interaction, I have informally counseled hundreds of ministers about financial matters. In addition to a business degree with a double major in finance and economics, I served as a corporate banker before answering God’s call to vocational ministry. I have been a pastor, ...
February 27, 2014   Thom Rainer

Six thoughts on how great leaders will retire

More than three years have already passed since a watershed point in American history. On January 1, 2011, roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers retired. From then until 2030, approximately 10,000 persons of that demographic will retire every day. That massive shift from employment to post-employment is a sociological phenomenon we have ...
February 13, 2014   Thom Rainer

Seven questions a pastor should ask before saying "yes"

Imagine that you have been selected as a finalist for consideration as the pastor of a church. Perhaps you are the lone finalist. As such, you have: Answered a plethora of questions. The church has checked your legal background, credit and social media history. They have listened to your podcast ...
January 30, 2014   Thom Rainer

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