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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Thank you Thom.
The seven famous words in the church today: “We’ve never done it that way before”. I have commented on various occasions that, “You don’t change WHAT you teach, but at times, you change HOW you teach it. Several years ago, I taught the study course, “Jesus The Teacher”. It would be good for that course to be published again, as we learn from the way that Jesus taught. He used parables that those that He was teaching could relate to. We are not to conform to the ways of the world, but we need to give them GOD’S MESSAGE in a way that they can relate to what is being said. ROMANS 12:1-2
The best assurance I can offer as to just how right and proper this really is, is this: I have no degrees, no positions in anything, anywhere … I do not teach or lead anything, anywhere … and your thoughts drill as deeply into me as they obviously did into you. Well done, sir!
Thank you, my friend.
I just found your blog and it has spoken to my heart, It is time for a change not only for pastors, but for the laity of the church. Thank you for your inspiration and knowledge. I will be using this information as a guide in my Missionary works.
Thank you as well.
Dr. Rainer, I am sensing God wanting to do a fresh work in SBC Churches across this nation. When we get to the end of ourselves, we get to the beginning of God. Your confession today is mine too. Certainly God wants us to dig the ditches (II Kings 3:16 & 17), but do I spend genuine time on my knees anguishing about Him sending the rain of repentance and lost souls coming to Him? Nope, not like I should. I love the adage, “work like it depends on us and pray like is depends on God”, but too often we spin ourselves into the ground with work and do not desperately call out to the God of the universe to heal our land and revive us again. We can do the “sharing”, but only He can do the “saving”. Thanks for allowing God to use your humble post today in a powerful way to move me to prayer and repentance. Praying for you today as you humbly lead so many.
Thank you so much, Brian.
I have followed your blog for years, read all of your books. Never have I respected you more than I do after this post. May we all follow your lead. Lord help us change.
I don’t deserve your words, Matt, but I am so grateful for them.
This is a #MeToo movement I am gad to join.
I like it!
The best article you have written. It hits home to what I need most and what pastors need most without man made guilt, but the conviction that comes from the Sprit of God. You spoke deeply to my heart this morning, as many of these and more are changes I need as a pastor. I join you in praying Lord change me for your glory.
Thanks so much, David.
We all need to be changed on a daily basis.
We must learn to balance humility and a servants heart with the boldness to speak the truth and defended those in need. The politics of our denomination filters down to the local church where the vote of a few can prevent the leading of many to Christ. We must take a humble yet bold stand for the truth.
As much as some must be held accountable for covering things up – many others of us need to face the accountability of sitting by silently letting them continue to do it. As much as I appreciate calls for “Resolutions”, its time to take action beyond raising a hand.
Thank you Thom for speaking out – now it it time for change.
Much needed word and reminder, that change is inevitable, but I must dare to change with the change that is happening around me daily. I can definitely do better.
You are a wise man, Devin.
Leaders who get into power and then can do no wrong since they are protected are a serious problem. Too often the leaders do not know/care what is going on or listen to people at the bottom. However, this is the way things generally work and the only thing many people have ever seen. Thus, the bottom has no respect for the top while the top could not care less about the people at the bottom. This is not much different than the Roman and Greek gods who sat on top of Mt. Olympus.