Thom S. Rainer

Christian Post Contributor

Nine Steps for a Pastor's First 90 Days

I remember well receiving a call from one of my sons. It was his first day on the job as a new pastor. It was also his first fulltime ministry position. His words were amusing: "Okay, Dad. I'm here. What do I do next?"

How Many Hours Does a Pastor Work Each Week?

It is one of the most unpredictable jobs one could have. There will be weeks when there won't be much taking place out of the ordinary, and the pastor will work a "mere" 40 to 45 hours. There will be other weeks filled with meetings, emergency hospital calls, a wedding, two funerals, and line of members waiting to see the pastor. That workweek could total 80 hours.

Five Reasons 'Kicking the Can' Leadership Leads to Disaster

Okay, I'm joining the crowd. The majority of Americans are tired and angry about political leaders who put off major decisions, often called "kicking the can." It's called breaking the law when I kick the can. It's called politics when they do it in Washington. And they kick the can with billions and billions of dollars at stake.

Ten Things I've Learned About Pastors in Two Years

Though this blog is four years old, I did not get serious about the pace of my blogging until about two years ago. If you have spent any time at my blog, you know that I devote a lot of my writings to local church matters in general, and to pastors specifically.

When Christians Fire Christians

I feel like I'm walking on metaphorical eggshells with this blogpost. My challenge is that I am asked about this issue almost as much as any other. The question typically comes from a pastor or other church leader, but it could come from a leader of another Christian organization. Should we as Christians fire other Christians who work in our organization?

12 Biggest Challenges Pastors and Church Staff Face

What is fascinating, if not discouraging, about this survey is that virtually all of the challenges noted by these pastors and staff were internal challenges. It appears that many of our churches in America are not effective conduits of the gospel because the members spend so much energy concerned about their own needs and preferences.

Four Ways Churches Break Attendance Barriers

After 25 years of consulting and researching local congregations, I have found four common approaches churches take to break attendance barriers regardless of size. There are certainly more than four possibilities, but allow me to evaluate these four more common approaches.

How Long Does a Pastor Preach?

Preaching is central to the worship services in most churches. Indeed most services are built around the message. The sermon is critical to the life and health of a church.

What Do Non-Christians Really Think of Us?

Christians look at everyone else as if they've got targets painted on their foreheads. Nobody likes being hunted down or treated like someone else's project. Love does not seek to create clones of itself. Selfishness does.

What People Really Think About Southern Baptists

I arrived on Saturday, so I have already had an opportunity to interact with a number of people. Most of those I have spoken with are here for the SBC. A few of them, though, work in Houston. I would like to share summary comments from two of them.

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 not apparent. Indeed, they demonstrate leadership that is fearful.

Five Ways to Avoid Lying about Church Attendance

I have used these lines many times in speaking venues. I ask the audience if they know how Baptists count weekly worship attendance. The knowing smiles break forth on most faces. I then began counting each person in the conference by saying 2, 4, 6, 8 . . . As the audience waits for the punch line, I say that every believer is indwelled by the Holy Spirit, so each person counts as two.

Five Reasons Your Pastor Will Not Ask for a Raise

My recent blogpost on pastors' salaries drew a lot of attention. There are indeed some heated emotions on both sides of the issue. Much of the concern expressed about the pay of ministers seems to focus on those cases of real indulgence and abuse. But it's those cases that get the most attention and, sadly, hurt the vast majority of ministers who are faithful stewards of God's money.

Four Ways to Improve the Worship Leader–Pastor Relationship

Worship leader: your pastor is the single most important professional relationship you have. You may be the primary facilitator of music and media, but he's ultimately in charge—and he's usually the one taking the fallout when things go awry. You absolutely want a healthy, dynamic relationship with your pastor.

Can a Dying Church Find Life? Six Radical Steps to 'Yes'

I must say from a pure statistical perspective, most churches with the symptoms I noted will die within a matter of a few years. Though I don't have hard data, I would be comfortable suggesting that the percentage exceeds 99 percent. In the midst of the gloomy news of terminal churches, I took a look at a few churches that had all the signs of impending death and then turned around to life.

Four Simple Reasons Most Churches Aren't Breakout Churches

Almost a decade ago, I led a major study on churches that had reversed negative trends and become positive breakout churches. I established the criterion that the breakout had to take place without changing pastors. I knew from previous research that most breakout churches had new pastors. I wanted to see if it was likely for a church to turnaround without getting a new pastor.