Six Reasons Your Church Welcome Ministry Is More Important Than Ever

By Thom Rainer

“We are the friendliest church in town.”

That sentence or something very similar is the most common statement we’ve heard in interviews we conducted with church members during consultations. Most people active in a church really do think their church is friendly. These members have relationships and interactions that give them that perceived reality.

But when we interview guests of the same churches, we hear a different story. These guests often think the members are “unfriendly” or “cliquish.” They don’t have the established relationships members have. They are not familiar with the church facilities. They don’t know what to expect.

The church welcome ministry (or whatever your church calls it) has always been important. But the ministry is more important today than it’s ever been. Look at six reasons this level of importance has risen.

1. Church members are returning to church after a long absence. The pandemic kept them away. Many have returned, but not all have. Some are easing back into church cautiously and slowly. It is critical for the welcome ministry to encourage these returning members to get back into a rhythm and habit of gathering regularly.

2. More new guests are arriving. During the quarantine, a number of new residents moved into your community. They have not had an opportunity to visit a church, but they are ready now. For some unchurched people, the angst of the COVID era has them asking questions about God, church, and faith. Some will show up at your church.

3. Context has changed. Yes, the world has changed. The local church is a microcosm of some of the contextual changes of our society. Specifically, the ways we greet people in many contexts have changed. Hugs are mostly out. Handshakes are in some places and out in others. The availability of visible sanitizers is necessary in most churches. Those who participate in the welcome ministry are aware of the best ways to greet guests.

4. First impressions are more important than ever. Because some of the guests have not been in a church for months, perhaps even a few years, the first few moments they arrive on the church property are critical. They could return repeatedly, or they could decide it’s not worth the risk and effort.

5. Few church members are naturally welcoming to guests. They naturally gravitate to people they know. They may be uncertain if a person is a guest or a member they don’t know. Leaders can exhort church members to be friendly, but the challenge for it to happen will always be there. The welcome ministry fills this void, and the void has been exacerbated during the pandemic.

6. It is biblical. While we don’t see a formal welcome ministry per se in the Bible, the importance of hospitality is clear and powerful. For example, “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13). Additionally, Paul’s qualifications for church leaders include hospitality (see 1 Timothy 3:2-3).

Your church’s welcome ministry has always been important. But it is likely it is more important than ever.

What is your church doing for its welcome ministry? I would love to hear from you.


This article was originally published at Thom S. Rainer serves as founder and CEO of Church Answers. Dr. Rainer publishes a daily blog and podcast at and can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at

Five Marks of a Spiritually Immature Staff Member and What to Do About Them


Introducing Our New May Sermon Series

Introducing Our New May Sermon Series

Just go to to subscribe. If you can’t hear the sound, place your mouse over the bottom left corner and click the speaker icon.


  • The church I’m pastoring right now is stuck! The congregation thinks that things never change and thus change can not happen. We are down to 15-20 and will need to look at that possibility for closing if change does not happen.

    They do not want to help outside of themselves giving to those in need in the community for fear of being taken even when explained the Lord is in control and it is his money people miss use.
    They will not change the 50’s sunday school format because it always works?????
    And Music is an issue as usual.

    I have been in 6 conflictive innercity churches this is a small community church with the same issues I found in the city just looking at them from different window or filters. My conclusion right or wrong is that they need to change not the message but the methods and the mindsets. This will not happen in the environment we presently have.

  • Rev. Robert E. Baker

    Keep up the good work. God blexs.

  • Alemayehu Regassa

    I am grateful to this page. I am encouraged by your sermons and posts from the Bible. May God bless you all in general and Pastor Davies in particular!

Seven Sentences We Never Expected to Hear in Churches in 2020

Seven Sentences We Never Expected to Hear in Churches in 2020

By Thom Rainer

I can only imagine how we would have responded in 2019 if someone had told us we needed to be prepared not to gather in-person in worship services for several months in 2020. Indeed, if we had been given a glimpse of this crazy year ahead of time, we would have thought the world had gone crazy.

It probably has. 

Look at these seven sentences we hear in churches today. We could have never predicted them. 

  1. “We need to decide if we are going to require masks in church.” If I had heard this sentence would be common in churches, I probably would have wondered if we are having mandatory costume parties in 2020. With the different masks used today, maybe we are.
  2. “We can’t take the offering anymore.” Really? I think many leaders would have freaked out if they heard financial support would become dependent on digital giving. Probably many more would have been surprised how many members were willing to move to digital giving.
  3. “We can no longer have the stand and greet time.” This issue was contentious in many churches before 2020. While many churches held tenaciously to this tradition, it was fading overall. But, imagine if we outright banned it in churches. That has happened for the most part. In case you’re wondering, I’m really okay with this development.
  4. “We need to measure our streaming views over 30 seconds.” For sure, a few churches were doing live streaming services prior to 2020, but they were a distinct minority in number. I don’t think any of us anticipated that streaming views would become a common church metric.
  5. “We need to arrange our worship center seating to accommodate social distancing.” Prior to 2020, I would have thought social distancing was only something we introverts practiced. Now it is something church leaders plan on a regular basis.
  6. “We need to move all of our small groups to meet on Zoom.” If most church members had heard this statement in 2019, they may have wondered if small groups would be in some drug-induced state. Zoom? What is that?
  7. “We will no longer visit church members in the hospital.” This development in 2020 is painful both to those confined to the hospital and to those in the church who really want to care for these members. It is indeed one of the tragedies of the pandemic.

Who would have predicted the articulation of these sentences in churches prior to 2020? It has been a strange year. It has been a painful year.

What unexpected sentences would you add?

This article was originally published at Thom S. Rainer serves as founder and CEO of Church Answers. Dr. Rainer publishes a daily blog and podcast at and can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at


Five Early Findings from Churches That Are Regathering

Five Early Findings from Churches That Are Regathering

By Thom Rainer

The regathering of churches for in-person services is garnering a lot of attention in both the religious and secular media. I totally get that. There are very few organizations other than churches that meet as a large group every week. The implications are significant.

We are following closely as more churches open for in-person gatherings. While we are not yet seeing even half of the churches open, more are added each week. It thus behooves us to get these early reports. Those that are open will be making adjustments. Those that are not yet opened can plan accordingly.

For now, we see several early trends. The list is not exhaustive, but these five findings are the most common we are observing.

  1. Most churches are cooperative with local and state officials and desire to comply with their guidelines. While the media will highlight adversarial relationships between churches and governments, such tension is simply not the norm. To the contrary, the vast majority of church leaders desire to work with governmental entities. The real story is not a battle between church and state, but a cooperative spirit between the two.
  1. Early attendance is significantly lower than the pre-quarantine era.At this point, one-half of the churches we have surveyed have an attendance of 60 percent or less than the pre-quarantine numbers. We rarely hear of a church that has an attendance of 80 percent or higher. For now, those churches are the outliers. 
  1. Returning senior adults present a unique challenge for many church leaders. We have numerous reports that senior adults are among the most eager to return to in-person services. Frankly, this trend is going contrary to our initial expectations. We thought most senior adults would be the last returning group because of potential health concerns. But as many of these older adults return, leaders are concerned how to minister to them spiritually and protect them physically. 
  1. The negative church members and naysayers are back. When the pandemic began, many churches had to hit the pause button on a number of fronts and issues. One of the unintended positive consequences was the pause taken by the negative church members. It has been a blissful silence for churches. Now that churches are planning to regather, the pause is lifted and the acrimonious few are back. 
  1. Most churches are utilizing some type of extra service at least for the short-term.The regathering churches are adding space to allow for social distancing. Some are adding services. Others are adding overflow rooms. Some are doing both or providing other creative solutions. The need for extra space has been exacerbated by children coming to the worship services who were previously segregated in their own age-graded area. 

For certain, the way churches are returning is changing regularly. These five findings will undoubtedly change as church leaders make necessary adjustments. Stay posted to as we continue to provide the latest updates on the regathered church.

This article was originally published at Thom S. Rainer serves as founder and CEO of Church Answers. Dr. Rainer publishes a daily blog and podcast at and can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at


  • We are aware that our churches are going to be in the spotlight, My church has been back for a few weeks now with most of our congregation back in the pews. We are a small church so our numbers don’t really make any waves, but all of our members have stayed healthy.
    Personally, I trust fully in God. I am 64 and work full time in a hospital, I have two prosthetic heart valves, I have had three strokes when I was younger, I’ve dealt with other issues associated with the heart. Every instance, God was present with me giving me strength to push through and at the same time giving me a sense of not fearing, which I see so much of at this time. Fear drains energy from the body, which is needed to protect and heal. I’ve always like the saying, “Let Go, let GOD”! Short, simple but true. Get rid of your fears, and attach yourself to God…

  • Pingback: Don’t Let the Angry Ten Percent Control the Direction of Your Church | The Pastor's Helper

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15 Characteristics of Genuinely Friendly Churches

15 Characteristics of Genuinely Friendly Churches

As churches begin to regather for in-person services, some areas of guest friendliness will change, at least for the short-term. For example, for precautionary reasons we likely will not be giving guests physical gifts.

As I have consulted with churches over the years, I have assembled data on what I called GFCs, genuinely friendly churches. I set certain parameters for GFCs; then I attempted to measure the guest return rates for those churches. A guest return rate is simply the percentage of guests who will return to the church for at least a second visit.

Here is the simple but profound difference I found in GFCs and all other churches: A genuinely friendly church has a guest return rate six times greater than other churches.

Did you get that? If a church meets the guidelines to be a GFC, the probability of a guest returning is six times higher than all other churches! Sadly, only about one of twenty churches meets the criteria necessary to be a GFC.

When I began as a consultant, I had 10 criteria, and the church had to meet at least eight of those criteria to be a GFC. I have since expanded the list to 15, and require churches to meet 12 of the 15 to be a GFC. Here are the 15 characteristics of genuinely friendly churches:

  1. They are intentional about being friendly. Warmth and friendliness are clear values of these churches. They are articulated regularly. All organizations, including churches, naturally drift toward an inward focus unless they are otherwise intentional.
  2. The leaders model warmth, humility, and friendliness. The friendliness is not contrived or phony. These leaders have prayerfully become genuinely friendly men and women.
  3. The leaders are clear that genuine friendliness is more than a brief stand and greet time in a worship service. The efficacy of a stand and greet time has been debated extensively in a previously published article. Regardless of a church’s decision in this practice, leaders in GFCs were adamant that true hospitality and friendliness extends beyond a two-minute welcome time.
  4. GFCs utilize a secret guest at least twice a year. One small church of which I am aware budgets $100 a year for a secret guest. They pay the guest with a $50 gift card to come to the church and provide feedback on their experience. I call this process “looking in the mirror” because it gives the church a real opportunity to see itself as others do.
  5. GFCs had a guest friendly website. The website typically set the tone for a guest. If it did not have obvious information for a guest, such as worship times and addresses, the guest came to the church with a more negative disposition.
  6. The church has clear signage. Far too many churches lack this signage. They assume that everyone knows where everything is. First-time guests know nothing about the church or its different facilities.
  7. GFCs have a well-organized greeters’ ministry. They have greeters in the parking lot, greeters in the entrances, and greeters in other strategic locations inside. Many GFCs utilize newer members in this ministry.
  8. These churches have clear information places. It may be something as simple as a well-marked table manned by a member of the church. The signage points clearly to the information table, booth, or kiosk.
  9. GFCs have clean and neat buildings. It is amazing how much a clean facility adds to the positive mood of a guest. It is equally amazing how few churches pay attention to this issue.
  10. They have a guest feedback process. To the best of their ability, GFCs follow up with guests to get feedback on their experiences. They also encourage the guests to be open and frank in the feedback.
  11. The children’s area is clearly safe and sanitary. Don’t expect young parents to return if the church does not give clear attention to this matter.
  12. The majority of church members in GFCs are involved in the community. They thus exude genuine friendliness in the worship services because they are regularly connecting with non-church members other days of the week.
  13. Small groups are highly intentional about reaching people beyond their own groups. Thus when these group members are in a worship service, they are already accustomed to reaching out beyond those with whom they already have relationships.
  14. GFCs have new member classes that emphasize the responsibilities and expectations of church members. Members are thus more apt to look beyond their own preferences to serve others. That attitude shows up in the worship services.
  15. GFCs demonstrate an awareness of and sensitivity to COVID-19 concerns. This issue will likely be around for a while.

Give your church an honest evaluation of these 15 items. See if you can give an emphatic “yes” to at least 12 of them. If not, what should your church change?


This article was originally published at Thom S. Rainer serves as founder and CEO of Church Answers. Dr. Rainer publishes a daily blog and podcast at and can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at



We have had more requests to make past sermon series available from our Subscription Series than any other resource. It has taken us awhile to get it all together, but the following Sermons are now available for Immediate Download at:


Sermon #1 — The Bible is a Tool for You to Use
Sermon #2 — The Bible is a Gift from God to You
Sermon #3 — The Bible Will Change Your Life


Sermon #1 — The Design of the Church
Sermon #2 — The Structure of the Church
Sermon #3 — The Arithmetic of the Church
Sermon #4 — The Membership of the Church


Sermon #1 — Renewed by the Spirit
Sermon #2 — Renewed by our Vision
Sermon #3 — Renewed by our Thinking


Sermon #1 — The Source of Eternal Life
Sermon #2 — The Possession of Eternal Life
Sermon #3 — The Fullness of Eternal Life
Sermon #4 — The Power of Eternal Life


Sermon #1 — God is Able
Sermon #2 — The Power at Work
Sermon #3 — For God’s Glory
Sermon #4 — Throughout All Generations


Sermon #1 — John 3:16
Sermon #2 — Ephesians 3:16
Sermon #3 — Colossians 3:16
Sermon #4 — 1 Timothy 3:16
Sermon #5 — 1 John 3:16


Sermon #1 — I Am Secure
Sermon #2 — I Am Free from Condemnation
Sermon #3 — I Am God’s Temple
Sermon #4 — I Am God’s Anointed
Sermon #5 — I Am a Citizen of Heaven


Sermon #1 — God Brings Us Joy
Sermon #2 — God Shepherds Us
Sermon #3 — God Counsels Us
Sermon #4 — God Leads Us


Sermon #1 — Lost
Sermon #2 — Obey
Sermon #3 — Holy
Sermon #4 — Hell
Sermon #5 — Fear


Sermon #1 — Dedicated to Compassion
Sermon #2 — Developed by Right Thinking
Sermon #3 — Driven by a Bold Spirit


Sermon #1 — Faithful in Caring for Us
Sermon #2 — Faithful in Our Trials
Sermon #3 — Faithful in Our Temptations
Sermon #4 — Faithful to His Promises


Sermon #1 — The Need for Blood
Sermon #2 — The Need for Faith
Sermon #3 — The Need for Holiness
Sermon #4 — The Need for Discipline


Sermon #1 — They Lived in Expectancy
Sermon #2 — They Focused on Fellowship
Sermon #3 — They Cultivated Courage
Sermon #4 — They Emphasized Outreach


Sermon #1 — Jesus: Our Example
Sermon #2 — Jesus: Our Power
Sermon #3 — Jesus: Our Ransom
Sermon #4 — Jesus: Our Coming One


Sermon #1 — Receive It
Sermon #2 — Live It
Sermon #3 — Share It


Sermon #1 — What Do We Need to Change to Live Like Jesus?
Sermon #2 — With Jesus in the Desert
Sermon #3 — With Jesus in the Community
Sermon #4 — With Jesus, Touching the Untouchable
Sermon #5 — We Can Do It!


Sermon #1 — Faith Under Pressure
Sermon #2 — Faith In Action
Sermon #3 — Faith Under Control
Sermon #4 — Faith that Submits
Sermon #5 — Faith that Prays


Sermon #1 — A Family with Purpose
Sermon #2 — A Family in Peace
Sermon #3 — A Family in Process
Sermon #4 — A Family in Recovery


Sermon #1 — U-Turn
Sermon #2 — Yield
Sermon #3 — Curve Ahead


Sermon #1 — Why Does God Allow Suffering?
Sermon #2 — How Do I Know I Can Trust the Bible?
Sermon #3 — Is It Wrong to Live a Homosexual Lifestyle?
Sermon #4 — What Am I Supposed to Do When Life Knocks Me Down?


Sermon #1 — I’m Going to Set My Priorities
Sermon #2 — I’m Going to Follow Jesus
Sermon #3 — I’m Going to Discover My Purpose
Sermon #4 — I’m Going to Focus on Relationships


Sermon #1 — Dealing With Conflict
Sermon #2 — Controlling the Chaos
Sermon #3 — Bringing Light to Darkness
Sermon #4 — Valuing What Matters


Sermon #1 — A Cross
Sermon #2 — A Towel
Sermon #3 — A Yoke
Sermon #4 — A Mission


Sermon #1 — The Spirit’s Testimony
Sermon #2 — The Spirit’s Power
Sermon #3 — The Spirit’s Work
Sermon #4 — The Spirit’s Filling


Sermon #1 — The Power of One Person
Sermon #2 — The Power of One Prayer
Sermon #3 — The Power of One Invitation
Sermon #4 — The Power of One Vision


Sermon #1 — A God Who Loves Me
Sermon #2 — A God Who Transforms Me
Sermon #3 — A God Who Assures Me


Sermon #1 — You are the Salt of the Earth
Sermon #2 — You are the Light of the World
Sermon #3 — You are Not Alarmed
Sermon #4 — You are Blessed by the Father


Sermon #1 — A Church that Includes You
Sermon #2 — A Church that Instructs You
Sermon #3 — A Church that Involves You
Sermon #4 — A Church that Invests in You


Sermon #1 — Noah: One Person Can Make a Difference
Sermon #2 — Joseph: Don’t Give Up on Your Dream
Sermon #3 — Nehemiah: Big Problems Can Be Solved
Sermon #4 — Esther: God Has Placed You Where He Needs You
Sermon #5 — Hannah: Your Child’s Future is in Your Hands



Sermon #1 — Why Jesus Came
Sermon #2 — Who Jesus Is
Sermon #3 — What Jesus Offers


Sermon #1 — The Gift of Strength
Sermon #2 — The Gift of Joy
Sermon #3 — The Gift of Christmas
Sermon #4 — The Gift of Hope


Sermon #1 — O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Sermon #2 — Joy to the World
Sermon #3 — Go Tell It on the Mountain
Sermon #4 — Mary, Did You Know?


A New You for the New Year

Easter – Facts and Acts

How Does Easter Impact My Life?

What M.O.M. Stands For

Leaving A Legacy (Mother’s Day)

How to be the Perfect Woman (Mother’s Day)

How to Be a Godly Father

God’s Kind of Father

A God Who Develops Me (Father’s Day)

Thanksgiving Commands

Abounding in Thanksgiving

Who Deserves Our Thanks?

The Importance of a Supportive Spouse in Ministry: Five Key Areas

The Importance of a Supportive Spouse in Ministry: Five Key Areas

By Thom Rainer

I am tempted to say that my ministry would be incomplete without my wife, Nellie Jo. It is more accurate, however, to say I likely wouldn’t have a ministry without her. She not only has been supportive; she has been a vital partner in my ministry.

Pastors and church staff members across the nation have shared with me the importance of their spouses in ministry. I was again reminded of this reality when I read a recent article in Harvard Business Review. The article was based on an incredibly impressive research project interviewing almost 4,000 business executives over a five-year period.

There were many parallels in this study and the anecdotal information I have heard from pastors and church staff members. To be clear, the HBR study looked at business executives, not those serving in churches. And they broadened the survey from “spouses” to “spouses and partners.” For those reasons, we can certainly expect divergence in the results compared to those serving churches vocationally.

Still, look at each of these key five areas and see for yourself if you can identify in your own ministry. The numbers may differ, but I think the sentiments will be similar.

  1. The importance of a spouse for emotional support (34% of the men and 29% of the women). A pastor recently shared with me his frustration with his church and his temptation to quit ministry. I asked him what has kept him going thus far. He told me: “The call of God and the support of my wife.” Many of us in ministry have similar stories.
  2. The importance of a spouse to accept career demands (16% of the men and 17% of the women). Someone who serves on a church staff is typically on call 24/7. Though pastors and church staff should do everything they can to give their families time, emergencies happen. Many needs are time sensitive. It takes a special spouse to handle that reality.
  3. The importance of a spouse to provide practical help (26% of the men and 13% of the women). In the HBR article, this practical help specifically addressed child raising and housekeeping and similar functions. I know a man whose wife serves as children’s minister in a church. It is very important for him to be home on weekends, particularly Sundays, because that’s his wife’s workday. He needs to be available to take care of the kids.
  4. Career advice (19% of the men and 13% of the women). I have looked to my wife every time I sensed God leading me to another place of ministry. She not only has been supportive, she has offered me wise and timely counsel. I was talking to a pastor just yesterday about a possible ministry change. He shared with me how important his wife is in providing counsel and advice.
  5. Willingness to relocate (10% of the men and 8% of the women). I feel confident that these percentages would be much higher among those in vocational ministry. The ministry is more often than not a very noble and mobile calling.

Keep in mind that the percentages noted in each of the five areas were for business executives. I believe, for the most part, the numbers would be much higher for those in ministry. And though the numbers are not mutually exclusive, there are hardly any leaders in businesses or churches who do not lean on their spouses greatly. Frankly, I can’t see how any pastor or any church staff person can make it in ministry without a supportive spouse.

How do you view these five areas? Are there some areas you would add to the five? Do you have a specific story of a supportive spouse in ministry? I would love to hear from you.

And by the way, Nellie Jo, thank you. I couldn’t make it in ministry or life without you.

This article was originally published at on March 10, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at


    • Josiah Themba Mdaka

      This is what couples are for. I so pray that my wife can be that support pillar in my ministry as a pastor.

    • Terry Moore

      My wife and I have served several times on the mission field and I know without God`s protection and my wife`s support I would never have lasted long in ministry. Even today as we serve in our own community I still need the encouragement and love of my wife. I can always count on her for the truth in direction and support.I know that God loves me, because he put this wondeerful gift into my life. Thank You Lord!

    • Allan RIver

      How wonderful to know that everything about my life had been planned by God. He knew I needed a strong woman, my wife, on my side seeing that I will be experiencing many challenges in my life. I never would have made it alone or with somebody else. It shouldn’t just be a spouse but He chose that specific one who will know how to support me when I’m down and out, when it seems as if God don’t respond to all my prayers. I can’t stop thanking God for the spouse He gave me to be on my side.

    • Calvin H

      Barry-Excellent article. I wonder, however, how you harmonize what you say with Paul’s words in I Cor 7:32-35? (The bigger context begins with v. 7). Matt 19:12 also relates to this. It would seem that single ministry is God’s preference and married ministry is acceptable but second-best. We glorify romantic love in our culture, but Paul seemed to think that singleness was better for those in the Lord’s service. Some say that “that was only because Paul thought that Jesus was coming back in a few short years”. OK, but God apparently inspired those words and chose to have them preserved for us today. Thoughts? (I have been married for 35 years).

Ten Troubling Statements Church Leaders and Members Make

Ten Troubling Statements Church Leaders and Members Make

Arguing-WorkersBy Thom Rainer

If you want your church to move toward a slow yet certain death, make certain your church leadership and membership affirms most of these ten statements. They are troubling statements. Indeed they are proclamations that virtually assure your church’s decline and probable demise.

What is troubling is that these statements are not uncommon. They are articulated by both staff and lay leaders at times. See if you have ever heard any of these ten.

  1. We hire our pastors and staff to do that. “That” can be evangelism. Or discipleship. Or caring for others. Or visiting people in the hospital. Some lay leaders view pastors and staff as hired hands to do ministry they should be doing themselves.
  2. We have enough churches in our community. I rarely see a community that is really “overchurched.” The number of unchurched people in any one community is typically increasing, not decreasing. This comment usually comes from church leaders who view new churches as competition.
  3. We are a discipleship church. Or an evangelism church. Or a ministry church. Church leaders who say their churches are focused on only one area of ministry are offering excuses not to be obedient in other areas.
  4. We have never done it that way before. Yes, it’s cliché. But it’s still a very pervasive attitude among change-resistant people in the church.
  5. We don’t have the money to do that. More times than not, the church does indeed have the money to focus on necessary priorities. The problem is that some church leaders don’t have the courage to reallocate funds toward those priorities.
  6. We really don’t emphasize small groups. Churches that do not give a priority to small groups or Sunday school classes can count on a big exodus of people out the back door. Those in groups are five times more likely to stay involved in a church than those in worship services alone.
  7. We have enough people in our church. This is a tragic statement by leaders of inwardly focused churches. And it is an excuse not to do evangelism and ministry.
  8. We aren’t a church for those kinds of people. Though similar to number seven, this statement is an appalling declaration made by church members who really believe people of a certain race, ethnic group, income group, or other descriptor should be excluded from the congregation.
  9. We really shouldn’t expect much of our members. Low expectation churches are far too common. Too many church leaders communicate unwisely that it’s okay for members to do nothing, give nothing, and not be concerned about growing spiritually.
  10. We focus only on our members, not guests and others. Many church leaders make this statement either explicitly or implicitly. Sometimes the facilities, the worship services, and the small groups shout “Guests not welcome!” I released a resource today that addresses this critical issue of guest friendliness.

What do you think of these ten troubling statements? Are they accurate? Are they fair? What would you add or change? [Please leave your comments below]



This article was originally published at on December 8, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at


  • “We don’t have enough _________ to do that. ” “We’re too small”

  • Thanks for telling it like it is. Our churches need to wake up band realize it’s not about our church.’s about the kingdom agenda.

  • Francis K. Tamba

    This is amazing and most acurate especially for a dying church.
    To add also, We will preach only the word the increase will come by faith.

  • Francis K. Tamba

    Amazing and acurate.

  • Pastor Jerome

    I agree that those are statements that can ruin a church. We as church leaders should look to the father for our guidance. When we make decisions on our own 9 times out of 10 we make the wrong choices. Only God knows the direction He wants His people to go in, when we look to Him for those answers, we can’t go wrong.

  • Robert Walker

    I have been involve in my church for over 30 years ,and as a lay leader, 25 of these years. Unfortunately, I have ,and even more so, am experiencing the slow death of my church. I and my Pastor both have introduced Dr. Rainer book ,The Autopsy of a Deceased Church, to the membership, in trying to get them to understand our present state. The 10 symptoms are so prevalent in so many churches. Thanks!!! for your acknowledgement of this subject. I see it as confirmation to keep pressing onward. I believe Christ, that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His church. Thank you and Please!!! don’t stop bringing your prayerful insight of these subjects to the populations.

  • Bob

    Not accepting help when some one wants to help.

    Being judgmental and not supporting others in there walk.

  • Dr. Mark Lynch

    I agree with these statement whole heartily. I have always led smaller churches and I have found that most of the problem with smaller churches growing is the fact that they are stuck in a tradition that they are unwilling to change. In my case it is most often the unwillingness to even try to bring praise & worship music into the service to help draw younger families into the church. Most smaller churches are stuck using 250 and 300 year old music and unwilling to use any newer more spiritual praise and worship music into the church which will both bring life, spirit and joy into the service. They all to often consider it “satanic music” when in reality it is just as or more spiritual than some of the older hymns. They have sung the older hymns so long they have lost most of their meaning in the peoples lives, they simply sing the words without feeling what they are singing. Another major problem I have faced in my 27 years of ministry is the unwillingness for smaller churches to evangelize the community in which they reside. They claim “it is the Pastor’s job to do the visitation” and say “that’s what we pay you for” when the Bible is very clear that Pastor’s are called to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” If a Pastor is doing what God “called him to do” he will have a full time job and if the members would do what they are called to do then ” we would all come together in the fullness of God’s glory and our churches would grow and prosper.

  • J. R. Padgett

    Very accurate.
    If your not part of the solution,
    Then your part of the problem.

Seven New Trends in the Pastor Search Process

Seven New Trends in the Pastor Search Process


By Thom S. Rainer

If there is anything consistent about the current state of how churches find and call pastors, it is the inconsistencies of the process for each church. It is inconsistent by denomination and by each church individually.

I have the opportunity to interact with a number of churches looking for pastors, and with pastors who are being considered by churches. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed changes and trends in the process. Let me highlight the seven most frequent changes I’ve discovered.

1. Social media has become a major reference to check on potential pastors. More churches and pastor search committees are looking at blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media venues of potential candidates. One search committee member told me he read four years of blogs of a pastor their church is considering. He said that he could tell a lot about the leadership and personality of a pastor by reading his articles and how he interacts with those who comment on the blogs.

2. Two background checks are more common: criminal and credit. Most church search members will not disqualify a candidate who has some issues in his background legally or credit related. But they do want the candidate to be upfront about any issues; and they want to know how he is dealing with those issues today.

3. More leadership questions are asked. In the past, Bible and theology rightly dominated the questions asked of a prospective pastor. Today those considering these pastors want to know more about his leadership qualities. “We had problems with two of our last three pastors,” one church member wrote me. “But none of those problems had anything to do with their theology; they just had terrible leadership skills.”

4. Churches scrutinize the prospective pastor’s church website. I have been surprised how much churches depend on a website to find out information about a prospective pastor. They certainly expect to hear sermon podcasts there, but they are looking for much more. Rightly or wrongly, they often evaluate the pastor by the quality and the content of the site.

5. Fewer search committees are going to the prospective pastor’s church to hear him preach. I am hearing more often that they view such a move as disruptive to that pastor and the church. They have other options available to hear him preach. Of course, they lose the advantage of seeing and hearing that pastor in his current context.

6. Churches are depending less on traditional resources to seek prospective pastors. More are depending on informal networks to seek these pastors, rather than denominational or similar sources.

7. More churches are asking questions about the emotional intelligence of a candidate. Is he self-aware? Is he moody or temperamental? How motivated is he? Is he empathetic? Does he have good social and interpersonal skills?

There are several other trends I am watching closely. But these seven are the dominant trends in the pastor search process. Though they are ranked in order of frequency of comment, they are really all very close in their overall importance in the ways churches seek to find and call a pastor. So the number one issue, social media and the pastor, is not that much more dominant than the number seven issue, the emotional intelligence of the prospective pastor.

What other trends have you seen?

This article was originally published at on October 29, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at

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