Certainly, this post was at least partly prompted by the incredible number of sad, tragic, and horrific events in my denomination.
For sure, the brutal reality of the calendar and my impending 63rd birthday caused me to pause and write this public missive.
But more, far more, has been the conviction of God’s Spirit in my life. While I have been prone to judge the fallen and the offenders in the melodrama of my denomination, God has reminded me again how fallen I am, how sinful I am, and how I am unworthy to cast the first stone.
It is perhaps for accountability, and perhaps for confession, that I write about changes I must make.
- I must change and be more obedient in sharing the gospel. I exhort others to do so, but I am disobedient far too much myself.
- I must change and increase my time in the Word and in prayer. Too often, I let the tyranny of the urgent replace the priority of time with God. If I sound foolish, it is because I am, and because I have been.
- I must change how I seek my identity. My identity should be first in Christ. And my identity should also be as a family man. My greatest titles are “husband,” “Dad,” and “Rad Rad,” not “CEO” or “Dr. Rainer.” Too often I seek the accolades of others instead of pleasing Christ and serving my family.
- I must change the depth and breadth of how I love my local church. I must serve with greater joy, give with greater commitment, and worship with greater abandon.
- I must change my involvement in denominational politics. Indeed, I must flee from denominational politics. My involvement breaks my heart and hurts my soul.
- I must change from a posture of silence to one of courage when others are hurt, marginalized, and abused. My silence is too often a deafening endorsement of injustice and wrongdoing.
This list is neither complete nor exhaustive. God is still working on me. He knows I need a lot of work. I am not sure what paths I will take in the weeks and months ahead, but I know I need to be on His path and not my own. I am no less a sinner subject to failure and to fall than anyone else.
I must change.
With the few years I have left, I must change.
Let me be clearer and more biblical: I must ask God to change me. It is not by my strength nor by my might, but by the Spirit of the Lord that I can change.
And then, and only then, will I dare to whisper, “My life was not lived in vain.”
Posted on June 4, 2018
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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I agree with much of what you said (I’ll admit you stepped on my toes a bit, but as I’ve told you before, I need that now and then!). If I may, I’d like to address an area where Southern Baptists as a whole are in need of huge repentance. I’m all for dealing with issues such as rape and sexual harassment, but there has to be a better way than turning the SBC into a high-tech “tattlers’ wagon” (that term comes from an old gospel song).
I’ve addressed this issue in my blog. I normally don’t promote my blog on this site, but I feel this needs to be said. Here’s the link: https://www.worshambaptistchurch.org/thoughts-from-pastor-ken/may-31st-2018
…and a perfect example of why SBC as a whole is decreasing in numbers.
Marguerite Colson and Janet Parham:
Looking at other posts you two have made on this blog, I find it quite telling who you both are. Looks like you two both respond negatively and inappropriately (even calling people names) to others posting on this blog every time you post. Like the man who looked at his reflection in the mirror, but when he walked away, he couldn’t remember what he looked like. BTW, what church do you attend?
Leave it to a trolling SBC member to try to steal the joy of this post. I sure hope he lets us know where he is a member.
Dr. Ranier, I appreciate your heart in this blog message and it is something all of us in the SBC need to strive for. I am a sunday school teacher and have some concerns written up regarding some of the Lifeway material we have used recently. I would dearly like to get my concerns directly into your hands rather than see them buried in some low-level Lifeway office. It seems that your amazing interaction with commenters here on your blog is the best way to contact you, and so if you could email me at the address I provided with this comment, I would be extremely grateful. I promise not to share your email address nor use it for any more than this one purpose. With love in Christ, Jon.
Dr. Rainer (not Ranier) –
Please don’t respond to this person who has already tried to get off topic from a great blog post. I have dealt with LifeWay on two occasions and the “low-levels” did a great job. Jonathan has such an entitlement mentality. His concern is so great that he will keep your email address a secret, so the two of you can work together. Give me a break! I learned how many thousands of resources are released from LifeWay every year. There is no way you can deal with every issue or know all the material. Let him deal with the “low-levels.” They are really good, godly, and responsive people.
Good grief, Jonathan. Don’t be a troll. This post is too good for your obvious ulterior motive. What church do you serve?
Thank you! The cry of my own heart! Change me! Let us become the people He created us to be!
Hi Dr Rainer,
Jesus has things for every one of his disciples to improve on.
We are all in this together.
God bless you,
Southern NH, USA
Words are words. And actions are actions. I pray God’s Spirit will give you the strength, encouragement, and boldness to act on what you’ve written..
Thank you for your sensitivity and candidness; the assessment certainly applies to me. It also reminds me of this famous quote:
“You cannot slander human nature; it is worse than words can paint it.” ― Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Wow … I have processed some of the same points, you so aptly described, over the past several months. Walking though it right now.
Thank you. In response I have written my own mea culpas although I don’t intend to publish them. Thank YOU for doing so.