What’s Next for Me after LifeWay?

Please indulge me for one more blog post about my decision to retire from LifeWay. In my previous post, I shared the reasons why I am retiring, why God is leading me to leave an organization I love deeply. In this post, I will share some of my plans for life post-LifeWay.

I understand the plans of man are not always the plans of God. Everything I write here could change in the blink of an eye. I also want to make clear my total loyalty to LifeWay. I will not get in the way of the next CEO, but I will be the biggest cheerleader for this company I love so much.

While I do look forward to a lot more flexibility to spend time with my family, I will continue to do the work of ministry. I cannot imagine a life otherwise. Here are my plans for now:

  • Revitalize Network. In anticipation of my retirement, I applied with the IRS to start a non-profit 501c3 where churches will work joyously together for greater health and revitalization. I am incredibly excited about this future; and I think God has great plans for it. Revitalize Network has now been approved, and it is ready to launch next month.
  • ThomRainer.com. I will continue this blog and related ministries on the blog. The total number of views and emails opened is over 10 million each year. We touch every nation in the world. I thank God for the influence He has given this daily blog. And I particularly love the post every Sunday (“Pray for”) where we pray for a specific church.
  • Our podcasts: Rainer on Leadership and Revitalize and Replant. I have been blown away by the influence and growth of these two podcasts. I look forward to investing even more time to this ministry in the days ahead.
  • Church Answers. We started Church Answers as a place where church leaders could ask questions 24/7 and get answers quickly, usually within an hour or two. It has experienced phenomenal growth. Church Answers has two certification ministries that we will continue to improve and grow: Church Consultation University and Interim Pastor University. We will continue to add to the ministries of Church Answers as God leads and as we hear from the churches.
  • Books. I have written 28 books, most related to local churches. God willing, I do not plan to slow down the pace.
  • Speaking/Conferences. I will continue to do a number of speaking engagements digitally and a few in person each year.
  • I am a church member. I am not referring to the book by the same name. I am referring to my commitment to be a good and faithful church member. I will spend the majority of my time locally at The Church at Spring Hill where my son Jess is pastor. But I also want to spend more time at West Bradenton Baptist Church in Florida where my son Sam is pastor. That church will likely be my preferred winter location. I am not forgetting my other son, Art, and his family either.

I do not presume upon the will and plans of God. For now, this direction is where I see Him taking me in my “retirement” years.

I am a blessed man.

I am a grateful man.

Posted on August 29, 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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  • Thom:

    My niece saw your post “Five Reasons Your Pastor Gets Depressed,” and knowing of my work on the care of clergy, forwarded it to me.
    Going on your site, I find that you are planning on a transition in life. I hope your retirement is as pleasing as mine has been for the last 12 years.

    I have focused on developing resources for the support of and nurture of clergy. You can see my work at http://www.smccutchan.com .

    I am currently working on a nine-volume series under the theme of “Healthy Clergy Make Healthy Congregations.” The last six volumes will focus on clergy physical, emotional, family, financial, spiritual, and vocational health. From your website that seems to be a subject that you have been interested in.

    If you are interested in exploring our mutual interest, you may contact me at [email protected] .

    I pray that this “Third Phase” of life will open even new avenues of fulfillment.

    Steve McCutchan

  • Thom, appreciate all you have done for us pastors, leaders and churches. Your Ministry gift is invaluable and timely for our faith. I have been inspired by you and the resources and pod cast. I have a heart for the network of churches I’m connected with in helping them. I’m 58 years pastoring a young church, leadershfting so I can help churches stay alive. This need for churches has gripped me with passion. I hope to stay connected in your new non profit Ministry. I will be praying for you and your new season. Thanks again.

  • Thanks for your many years of faithful service to God’s people (Hebrews 6:10).

    Thom, may I re-publish a blog you did on my depression and faith website, penetratingthedarkness.com? It was titled, “”5 Reasons Pastors Get Depressed (and why they don’t talk about it).” I would open with an introductory paragraph of my own, and if you prefer, I can send you that for approval, but would not change your post at all. I teach Church Ministry at Columbia International University. Aug 29

    I have used a number of your posts in my classes in recent years as basis for discussing a particular issue. If you say YES, I will probably republish it later this week.

  • Dr. Rainer,

    You have profoundly impacted me as a leader, pastor, and visionary. I was not a good student in high school- barely graduated. After I retired from the Army, I decided to try college…I am now working towards completing a D.Min. in Leadership through Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, TX. My M.Div. (Liberty University) is in Evangelism and Church Planting- where I was introduced to your writing and research. My mind has been blown by the data you provide to the church world. My heart’s desire is to make disciple-making disciples and to influence dying churches. As you know it is not just an SBC or an AG issue- it is church-wide. Thank you for doing what you do Sir. It is making a huge difference and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for us through you in the future.

    May God richly bless you! May His face shine upon you!

    In Christ’s Service,
    Steve Davis

  • I’m so thankful for the encouragement I have found as a lead pastor from your research, insight, and blogs.
    Enjoy the next ministry place God has for you.

  • Thom,
    I am so glad that you are continuing your ministry after Lifeway. The Lord has used you for the blessing of His Church.

  • As one who retired some 5 years ago, I suspect you will not slow down. The word retirement is not in the Bible, and it looks like you have charted a challenging course. Be sure to smell the roses along the way. Spend more time with your children/grandchildren. When I retired, I took up 4 things I’ve never done before. They keep me exhiliarated and mentally challenged. I have been receiving your posts for a while and often refer to them in a blog I write on Mentoring the Millennials (which was one of the new things I started doing). Our life (my wife’s and mine) is filled with events trying to leave our fingerprints on all of our grandchildren, often by taking them in individually or a couple at a time on trips with us designed around their interests. Just saying…

  • Teresa Quinn says on

    Thank you for your ministry, thus far in your life, and sharing about your future plans. You are such a wonderful role model for those of us getting close to retiring to be strategic and plan well for what God has next in our lives as servants of the Lord.
    Blessings to you and your family on your new journey.

  • Please count me in with revitalizing churches because that is what I am about! The church has been influenced by you and recently been interested in becoming a welcoming church. It seems to me that God has given you a clear vision for the future ministry without the intense responsibility you had for Lifeway. You are a gift to the church! Will be praying for you!

  • John W Carlton says on

    Thank God for you and your ministry. What retirement? You will be busier than ever.

  • Thom, your plans for the future raise a few questions. I am sure you have considered many of them already, but it would be good for those of us who follow you to have a model of transition that is comprehensive. During your time at LifeWay you have built a very effective team who has enabled you to do far more than you would have on your own. What are their plans? Will you be building a new team to work with you in your future efforts? Will the new CEO want to build his or her own team? These are the kinds of things we need to think about when we are considering a change and how you are handling them might serve us and others close to us in the future. Thom, thank you for your service.

    • Thom S Rainer says on

      Larry –

      I will have a virtual team with workers in Kansas City, Atlanta,, Maryland, Virginia, and Nashville for starters.

  • Enjoy your retirement. I’m so glad to hear that you will continue with your blog.