Tag Archives: Thom Rainer

Book Review: Becoming a Welcoming Church

Becoming a Welcoming Church - By: Thom S. Rainer Thom Rainer, the former president of Lifeway and head of Rainer on Leadership, has written quite of few of these little church-help books. They are little, and I would say that they tend to be helpful. While I have read a few of the others (Who Moved my PulpitAutopsy of a Deceased Church, and I am a Church Member), Becoming a Welcoming Church is the first book review I have done of his work.

That being said. . . Thom Rainer has become the church guru as it were. Like his other books, Welcoming Church is filled with anecdotes, surveys, and helpful tips and is written in such a way to be accessible to anyone, from a 10 year-old to a 100 year-old. Much of what he has written is taken from personal experience as a pastor or as a church consultant. While there is not a lot of expounding upon Scripture, it does aptly apply Scripture for becoming a welcoming (hospitable – Bible word) church.  As Rainer himself wrote, “This book is for those church members who really want to see their churches make a difference,” (p. 4).

On a personal note, being a 1689 LBC guy, I would say he puts a tad too much emphasis on what man can produce. However, I also understand where he is coming from. While I do not recall if he ever quoted 1 Corinthians 9:22 (“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some, [ESV]), that was the verse that kept me from rolling my eyes. Rainer sees everything as a gospel issue from the welcoming station to signage to the nursery. “If [guests] don’t have clarity on how to get to your church buildings, and how to find areas once they arrive, they may not return. They may miss an opportunity to hear the gospel. You get the picture. It’s just that important,” (p. 36). He makes a good point as to its importance. If a person is coming to church for the first time, or has been unchurched for the last 20 years, he/she could get frustrated and never return. In fact, a true story similar to that is in the book.

Coming in at 100 pages, with plenty of white space, this book is an easy read. Published by Broadman & Holman, it contains only 6 chapters, averaging then 16 pages per chapter. There is also a church facility audit and a secret guest survey in the appendices. It’s suggest price is $12.99, but Amazon has it now for $10.76 with prime shipping and Christian Book Distributors has it for an amazing $5.99 ($5 for 10 or more). That being said, I would absolutely recommend this book to every member, especially of a smaller church. As the back of the book says, “Most church members don’t see their churches clearly.”


Top 10 List: Podcasts

Today, I give you a top 10 list: my favorite podcasts (and why I listen).  I have links to each of these (except one) if you want to start listening as well.

10. Leadership Momentum – Chris Brown hosts this podcast.  I listen and get a few nuggets from this show, but generally speaking it isn’t enough to warrant faithful listening.  I listen because I want to improve my leadership, but much of the show tends to fall in leadership that is outside of my task.  Though it is a Christian show, it deals a lot more with issues with which I currently am not dealing.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good podcast; it just means that not all shows are relevant to me.

9. Rainer on Leadership – Tom Rainer (President of Lifeway) is the host of this podcast.  It is geared more toward pastors and church staff leadership.  Anyone could benefit from these though, especially if you want to encourage your pastor/staff to grow in leadership.  If you’re a stats guy, this is the podcast for you.  If you want to know how leadership in the church should work together to build unity, this is the podcast for you.  There are a ton of guests (authors, musicians, pastors, leaders, etc.) on this podcast.  It is definitely worth the listen.  There is a new podcast every Tuesday and Friday.

8. The Look and Sound of Leadership – Tom Henschel is the host of this podcast. It is about leadership plain and simple.  It isn’t a Christian podcast, but a leadership podcast.  It is like having an executive coach in your phone.  I have been listening to it for a few months now and find it very helpful.  The great thing about this podcast is that it only comes out once a month and Henschel’s style is top notch.  Half the podcast is a story of his coaching someone, and the last is the explanation and clarification of what was going on in the story, thus giving some important insights of how one should lead.  These two methods work great for getting the lesson to stick.  If you’re in leadership, listen to this podcast.

7. Ask Pastor John – John Piper is one of the greatest pastors/preachers (in my opinion) of the twentieth/twenty-first century.  In this podcast, he allows people to email him tough questions and he picks one to answer.  I always enjoy hearing his answers.  I’m not always 100% in agreement with him, but he is always thorough and thought-provoking.  Most podcasts are around 10 minutes are so.  They are released every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

6. Preaching and Preachers – Jason K. Allen (President of Midwest Baptist Theological Seminary) is the host of this podcast.  It is as it sounds: a podcast dedicated to preachers and the task of preaching.  I have never thought I wasted my time listening to this podcast.  Dr. Allen does an exceptional job hosting and interviewing guests.  He will sometimes be the one interviewed as well.  Topics have included: prayer life, sermon application, biblical languages, and rest.  If you’re a preacher, then this will help you immensely.

5. Help Me Teach The Bible – This is a Gospel Coalition podcast, hosted by Nancy Guthrie.  I’ve only just recently started listening to this podcast, but it has been helpful in Bible study preparation.  There have been many ideas and lessons that have been tucked away for future studies and lessons as well.  Even if one is not a teacher, this podcast teaches much about the Bible and is therefore helpful in growing in biblical knowledge.

4. The Briefing – Dr. Albert Mohler (President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the host of this news briefing podcast.  He generally takes three (maybe four) news items of the day and speaks to them from a Christian worldview.  He helps the listener develop a keen sense of what it means to look at events from a biblical mindset.  I never miss an episode (Mondays-Fridays).  These are about 20 minutes long or so.  Incidentally he also has a podcast called Thinking in Public.  This one is simply him interviewing an author about a book or current subject matter.  These are longer (about 1 hour) and very sporadic.

Top Three Podcasts!!

3. The Art of Manliness – This is by no means a male-chauvinistic podcast.  While there are many episodes that deal with men and men’s interests, these podcasts could be listened to by anyone at any age.  It’s almost as if the host, Brett McKay, sits around and says, “I wonder why _______ is this way.”  He’ll read about it, and then interview the person he just read.  I’m sure there is much more sophistication that goes into the podcast than what I described, but one thing is for sure: I have never listened to a bad episode….ever!  There are shows on samurais, learning, rucking, reading, governments, empires, meeting and greeting, and the list goes on.  My advice: download and listen, listen, listen.

2. The Pastor Discussion Podcast – This podcast is fairly new (only 10 episodes as of this moment of writing).  It has catapulted to the number 2 spot.  John Hawkins and Joe Marino host this one together.  It is usually a discussion (hence the name) between the two of them, though they have interviewed others as well.  If you’ve ever wanted to be a fly on the wall when pastors get together and talk (and who hasn’t!?), then this is the podcast for you.  Seriously, I find these two to be full of truth and grace, and even funny at times.  Definitely worth the download and listen.  This one is so new they don’t have a website.  Just look up “The Pastor Discussion Podcast” on your podcast provider.

1. She Proves Faithful – I know! This one is for women, but it really isn’t (for the most part).  Anyone can learn from Lauren Hlushak.  I find myself at one moment literally laughing out loud and then brought to utter silence as she drives her point home.  I have learned so much from this woman!  If there is one podcast that you listen to on a regular basis (every Tuesday), then this is the one you must–absolutely must–listen to.

That’s it!  Those are my top 10 podcasts.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Which podcasts made your top 10 (or 5) list?  Which one of these 10 will you try?  I’m always looking for good things to listen to, so let me know.