Thom S. Rainer

Christian Post Contributor

When We Lie about Praying for Others: Seven Thoughts

Someone made a comment that, above all, he needed people praying for him. So I wrote in response, "I'm praying for you. I really mean it." Then I paused. Why did I write "I really mean it"? Wasn't my promise of prayer sufficient? Why did I have to add a child-like "cross my heart" promise?

Ten Things Pastors Wish They Knew Before They Became Pastors

In an informal survey of pastors, I asked a simple question: What do you wish you had been told before you became a pastor? Some of the responses were obvious. For me, a few were surprises. "I wish someone had taught me basic leadership skills." "I wish I had been given advice on how to deal with power groups and power people in the church."

Four Thoughts on Unfriendly Church Starts

This issue is not new, but it does seem to be one gaining more attention. A new church is started in a community with many members of an existing church. Unfortunately, the existing church has not blessed the new church start, nor has it been consulted about it.

Nine Characteristics of Happy Churches

"Happy" is a nebulous term. It is usually understood better than defined. So I know I am taking a risk when I used such a subjective word. Please allow me to explain. For almost twenty years, I served as a consultant to churches in the United States and Canada. After working with hundreds of churches, I saw several patterns develop.

The Perfectly Unified Church

But the lack of unity in many churches is a serious manner. Church splits, congregational infighting, and church divisiveness are more common than we often like to admit. Not too long ago, I heard my co-worker at LifeWay, Eric Geiger, make a presentation on church unity. Actually, he largely dealt with training and equipping the saints to do the work of ministry in his presentation, but he beautifully tied that issue with church unity.

Ten Things Church Members Desire in a Pastor

I recently asked a few hundred laypersons to write down what they desired of a pastor. Their responses were open-ended, and there was no limitation on the number of items they could list. Among the top 10 responses was "love of congregation."

The Death of the Mall and the Future of Church Buildings

Is it fair to suggest any relationship between the decline of the malls and the future of the church buildings? I think so. To be sure, most malls are adversely affected by the growth of online shopping. There are not too many brick and mortar stores that don't feel the impact of the Internet.

Five Lessons for Pastors From the Fiscal Cliff Fiasco

I am stating the obvious. Indeed I am mirroring the emotions of tens of millions of Americans. My statement? I am fed up with politicians. I am fed up with a congress and executive branch that fails to lead. I am fed up with last minute and dramatic decision-making. I am fed up with "kicking the can down the road" on major decisions. I am fed up with the lack of courage obvious at so many levels.

The Top Seven Regrets of Pastors

I recently interviewed more than twenty pastors who had been in ministry for at least 25 years. Below are the top seven regrets noted in order of frequency. The first, lack of practical training for local church ministry. The second, overly concerned about critics.

Ten Steps to Deal With Inward Drift in Established Churches

An established church develops certain patterns or traditions while simultaneously forgetting its original purpose and passion. By almost any metric, the majority of North American congregations are established churches. They often include discouraged leaders and frustrated members. So how does a church move from an inward drift to an outward focus?

Adultery and Leadership

What is the impact on a leader and his or her leadership when he or she is involved in an affair? I have been disgusted as I heard different pundits attempt to answer this question. The typical perspective regurgitated about the Petraeus and Broadwell affair is that, outside of the security concerns, it's really no big deal.

Millennials, Politics, and an Open Letter

At least in 2008 the Millennials proved to be a generation motivated by a strong centralized federal government. Most every study of the Millennials indicates that the same desire is still alive and well today. It is not unusual to see people look to the government for solutions when few alternatives seem available.

Eight Terrible Church Visits

When I led a church consultation company, one of the more common facets of my consultation was an on-site visit to a worship service. The person I hired to conduct the visit could know nothing about the church. What makes for a bad first-time experience? Being asked to introduce yourself and everyone talking in code.

Ten Things Pastors Like About Pastoring

We wanted to know what pastors like about their ministry. Here are their top ten responses listed in reverse order, followed by a comment from a representative pastor. Preaching. "My sense of God's call to ministry was a call to preach. It's still what I love to do more than anything."

Ten Things Pastors Don't Like About Pastoring

The expectations of a pastor are endless. Many members expect them to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. But different pastors are wired differently. One pastor may get great fulfillment out of counseling, while another dreads every minute of it.

Six Ways Churches Reverse a Decline

I don't particularly like the "quick-fix" formula some pundits offer to leaders of churches that are plateaued or experiencing a decline. Nevertheless, I have had the wonderful opportunity to research churches across America. Many leaders are frustrated and seeking God's solution.

Seven Updated Trends on Megachurches in America

The fascination with megachurches is, at least to some extent, related to the sociological impact on the community in which it resides. There continues to be a shift of members and attendees from smaller churches to larger churches, particularly megachurches.

Pastors Are Hurting

Not all the news about pastors is discouraging. Pastors feel privileged to be called to their places of ministry. They have a deep love for those they shepherd. Most of them could not conceive of doing anything else. But please hear me: Many pastors are hurting.

Listening to Negative People Will Make You Dumb

We all know those "energy drainers." They are the people that seem to have a perpetual cloud hanging over their heads. Research shows that exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity – including viewing such material on TV – actually peels away neurons in the brain's hippocampus. That's the part of your brain you need for problem solving.

Eight Leadership Lessons From Bad Politicians

Let's be fair. Many politicians are good and strong leaders. They have a high ethical standard, care for their constituencies first, and seek to serve. But some politicians are bad. They put self first. They lie. They seek power first.