Andy Miller III
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The Global Methodist Church: These Things I Pray

February 1, 2024

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Welcome to the more to the story podcast I am so glad that you all have come along, and many of the people who are my audience are needing to hear the message that you're gonna have on today's podcast because it's critical for this moment in the kind of Pan Wesleyan movement. So hold on. You'll get more of that in just a second from our guests. But I wanna remind you that this podcast is brought to you by Wesley Biblical Seminary, where we are developing trust

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Andy Miller III: leaders for faithful churches. And at this particular moment in Methodism we have added 300 global Methodist church pastors to our student body. We are at the biggest moment in our history, and we sense God doing a new thing through the life of not just this institution, but the churches that we're privileged to serve. So we'd love for you to check out more about us from any of our degree programs.

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Andy Miller III: bachelor's master's doctoral degrees Tarlea initiatives. You can find out, find out about Also, this podcast is brought to you by Bill Roberts, who's a financial planner who comes alongside people, particularly pastors, and helps them think about their retirement something that we don't do very well, so I love for you to check out his resources at William H.

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Andy Miller III: And finally, if you are not sign up for my email list, I'd love to get you to sign up for that. And I send regular content out. And if you sign up for my email list I'll send you

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Andy Miller III: a little tool that I've developed developed called 5 steps to deeper teaching and preaching. It's a 45 min teaching that I have together, but then a worksheet that you can use that will help you prepare not just if you're a preacher. But if you're preparing a Sunday school lesson or anything like that, and often people are looking for some way to get deeper into Scriptures, and that starts kind of on the front end as we're studying. So I'd love to send that resource to you

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if you sign up for my email list at Andy Miller, the third com, that's Andy Miller, Iii, Com.

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Andy Miller III: Okay. I am thrilled to bring into the podcast Tom Rayner, who's the CEO of Church answers, if you've been around to the church world for any time you have seen his name, and if you haven't, you should have, and I'm glad to introduce him here to you today, Tom, welcome to the podcast.

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Thom Rainer: Thank you, sir, this is gonna be fun. I'm fun for a lot of reasons, but I'm not going to define them right now. I'm going to let you define them through the questions. But even though I don't have the preloaded questions, even though I don't know what you're going to ask. I know something about your audience. May not a whole lot, and that's why it's going to be fun for me. So let's just see what happens.

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Andy Miller III: Well, that's great. You know what one of the real treats for me in developing the podcast over the last couple of years is finding an audience and developing an audience and serving an audience. And my audience, as you know, as I told you in our email exchange is made up mainly of people in the Pan Wesley movement.

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Andy Miller III: groups that would connect themselves to John Wesley and to his theology. You know, not just United Methodists and global Methodists, but Free Methodists, Nazarene, Salvation Army, and a host of any denomination that has the word Methodist in its name. And this is an amazing moment in the life of that movement.

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Andy Miller III: particularly because of what's happening within united Methodism as churches have disaffiliated. Some churches have lost disaffiliation. Votes and churches are being planted from those contexts. Other denominations are growing. Prem. Methodists Association, independent Methodist, Congregational Methodists. All of these denominations are a part of this. II actually think it's a moment of

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Andy Miller III: revival and awakening within the life of Methodism as a whole. But at the same time, Tom, that's led to a lot of people, I think, needing your resources, because we have generally been an Episcopal system where most of these denominations are such, so that the denomination

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Andy Miller III: owns the property, sends a pastor and takes care of the congregation in that way. But now

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Andy Miller III: they're having to call pastors now they own their property. And now there's this unique opportunity for them to be able to think about what it means for them to exist as a church, and some of them are really struggling. So I'm curious. Let's just imagine what it might be for there to be a church that has this affiliated. Now, all of a sudden they're trying to figure out who they are. What what would you say to them in this moment? Where they're kind of forging an identity?

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Thom Rainer: There's a temptation for many of these churches, whether they are global Methodists or anybody else that has a new opportunity. But I'll focus specifically upon the global Methodist. There's a temptation to make all of the structure and administration flow smoothly, and it has to. It absolutely has to. I mean, global Methodist denomination has chosen their their retirement company. They've chosen other resource providers. So

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Thom Rainer: that's that's happening at the denominational level. And it's happening at the local level, too. Where okay, we? We didn't have to do this in the past. We know what we have to do. Here's here's my encouragement. My encouragement is to begin

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Thom Rainer: with, the great commission is that which should be your priority. It is there. There are so many things to do when you are part of a new denomination.

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Thom Rainer: and I would encourage many global Methodists. Let's don't go into, say, 2 point. O for your new paradigm, let's go into a new vision, a fresh vision. And that vision, if it does not begin with a great commission

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Thom Rainer: that is going to fall by the wayside. So this is an opportunity for all of these congregations to say we can do a lot of things right. But let's just follow the example of Wesley, the example of Christ. And let's go and make true disciples through evangelism, and that to me, if you start there, everything else will eventually fall into place. If you don't start there.

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everything else will stumble because you're not starting at the right place. What was Jesus last words on the earth before he ascended?

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Thom Rainer: You will be my witnesses. Jerusalem. Judaism married to the ends of the earth. He! He! He did not say, Let's decide polity. Let us decide. That's been decided, he he he did not say, Let's decide how many committees we're going to have or how we're going to find deferred maintenance in the future.

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Thom Rainer: Those are important. But, he said, first thing you had to do is be my witnesses. And that's how the early courage got started in x 2, 42, 47. And that's my admonition to global Methodists. And you know.

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I told you before we started recording and we had a conversation.

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Thom Rainer: we we're working with a number of global Methodist congregations. And it is it? When I say working, we're doing consulting, providing resources, a number of different things. But it is really, really fascinating. And I would even use the word fun because they're they're they're looking for.

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Thom Rainer: They're they're looking for fresh vision. They're looking for fresh ideas, and at least the congregations with which we are working are way open. And and when we talk about conferences they are open as well. So I am excited. And when when I read, the mission statement of global method is one of the things that just jumps out at me is the part of the mission statement that says we're going to passionately share our faith. And that's that's what they're about. If they can live up to that part of the mission statement, they are 90% there. That's why I'm excited about this movement.

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Andy Miller III: I think I got a little little over exuberance. Oh, I love it! That's exactly why I wanted to have you on it this past fall. I didn't anticipate this in my own schedule, but I became almost a circuit, writing

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Andy Miller III: a Methodist pastor where I was going all over Mississippi, probably to a dozen congregations that had either broken away that or some that lost their disaffiliation vote. And, Tom, you'll find this interesting. There's a few times I was there the very first Sunday they had broken off. They like lost their vote the next week, their their congregation, or they were voting that day to join a denomination. But here's what's interesting.

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Andy Miller III: The 2 factor, as I call it, was very present. So even then this is crazy, Tom, I would come into a place, and this this would be a church that was one week old. Here's what they would say.

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Andy Miller III: Well, we've never done it that way before. No, you haven't done it anyway, before. So start new. It's like this is how we do it. One time I was just I might just came in to to preach and I was ready to do all that. I can maybe give a pastoral prayer. But then they looked at me and said, Well, aren't you gonna come? Do the children's sermon, or aren't you gonna pray for the offering? And all that? Say that there are? What can happen is habits that are part of the past

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Andy Miller III: can creep in, and I'm afraid that some of these congregations might miss an opportunity to position themselves for the great commission. What can they do to avoid that, Tom?

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Thom Rainer: Well, first of all, they need an awareness of the possibility. So just just stating, this is probably what's going to happen. A lot of these congregations, whether they're global Methodists disaffiliated the United Methodists that are waiting to make a decision, or whatever the case may be.

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Many of them do not realize that that is a common disposition. That is a common default position to do things the way we've always done them.

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Thom Rainer: And one of the things we encourage churches to do when we work with global methods or anybody else, we we get them to ask the question, if you were starting afresh, what would you have to do according to Scripture? And and, of course, within the bounds of of your! Your denomination, polity, doctrine, assuming that fits well with Scripture, too. So that that is, that is where we begin, and I gotta divert just a minute. Then I'll come back to your question.

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We're we're talking about the different situations. Most of our situations with global methods have been so positive. And I'm not going to suggest this one was not, but

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Thom Rainer: in the midst of a consultation, a rather in depth consultation, not going to even give the State the the the some one called for a vote for disaffiliation.

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Thom Rainer: So United Methodist Church that intended to eventually become a global Methodist. And so someone called for for the vote. And I don't remember, you know. I'll how that happened, but I'm in the middle of a consultation. They have the vote and the vote to

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Thom Rainer: not disaffil the vote to disaffiliate. Let me put it that way. Yeah, was 50% plus 2 people. Wow. So the vote failed, as you know. Was it three-fourths or 2 thirds three-fourths. Yeah, I need 67%, whatever. That is 2 thirds. Yeah, that's 2. That's 2 thirds. So the vote failed.

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Thom Rainer: So I'm doing a consultation with one church

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Thom Rainer: the next Sunday. Only half of em are there, right? Right? And so now I'm doing a I'm doing a consultation with a United Methodist Church that has no

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Thom Rainer: desire for the most part to to change from that, and those that were working for the change are now gone. So just let you say that. Don't call me if that happens, because that can be. If I've if the church has changed right up from under our feet, their staff. Their staff was cut in half, too, so the united methods had to jump in and appoint these these persons to other places cause the local congregation could no longer afford the services.

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Thom Rainer: Oh, anyway, back back to what? What? Tell him?

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Thom Rainer: Awareness is the first key issue. Yeah.

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Thom Rainer: if if this sounds like a shameless plug. I don't mean for it to be, but at church answers we started doing research about 3 years ago about what's happened to churches that have had an intentional restart.

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Thom Rainer: Now, that doesn't mean they replant their churches. It doesn't mean that they disaffiliate, though they may, but an intentional restarting. We tried. We tried to find the common characteristics of these churches, as they said, we want to be the church that God has called us to be. Let's throw all of our presuppositions aside. Let's get out our Bible.

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Thom Rainer: and let's let's make those decisions. Well, we followed many of those churches, and we followed them for 2 years, and there was a common theme in that. One was. They came together

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Thom Rainer: for prayer

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Thom Rainer: that resulted in people being reached in the community. They were intentional about praying

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Thom Rainer: far, the Non Christians praying for those who weren't followers of Christ, and we used what we learned.

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Thom Rainer: and we started a ministry of church answers called the Hope Initiative. And it's it's basically

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Thom Rainer: 30 days.

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Thom Rainer: You have a challenge, whether it's 7 or 8 of you in a group with a pastor, where there's whole church going through it. You have a challenge for 30 days, and you go through that challenge, and we have seen that 30 day jump, start.

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Thom Rainer: Just do some phenomenal things in these churches, I mean within. I don't want to over oversell or over, be exaggerated, and I don't want to speak hyperbolic.

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Thom Rainer: but we've seen so many churches, whether they use our resource or whether they use the principles behind it.

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have this 30 day jump, start where it get. It changes their culture, it changes their focus.

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Thom Rainer: And because we call it the hope initiative because it changes their posture of hope as well. So we are using that

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Thom Rainer: and and and a few 1,000 churches right now

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Thom Rainer: to jump. Start. Not just not just talking about global Methodists. But there are a lot of other patients and non-denominational churches that that that could could use this as well.

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Andy Miller III: But that's the opportunity that all these churches has. I have. I mean that have no matter where where they are in the process, no matter if they figured out which denomination, or any denomination where that where that which would be a landing point for them.

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Andy Miller III: Yeah, it's easy to come to a place where they're not wanting ideas. Instead, the identity, my fear this and I can see I've seen it happen. I've been in these churches in the last 6 months that it might end up being their identity is in what they're not

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Andy Miller III: right that. Okay? So we're not United Methodists anymore. We're not there. And so we are the home for the orthodox Evangelical Wesleyans. And that's who we are. But there's something key missing in that, you know, like it's missing the great commission. Exactly.

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You're you're not an orthodox church.

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Thom Rainer: If you are not a great commissioned church, because you have chosen to disbelieve a major portion of Scripture.

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Andy Miller III: Amen.

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Andy Miller III: I've been interested to see that some of some of them are often really thinking, like, okay, all of our people live over here, you know, as we're figuring this out. So we're gonna land in this spot. But they might miss that chance, then, of really reaching their community to really say like and and to do these type of things. And my fear is then they'll end up the lesson of being dead.

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Andy Miller III: And that's where your your book autopsy of a dead church.

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Andy Miller III: I believe it or not like. I think there's a few of these churches that might just need to read that book to figure out if they are indeed dead. Now tell us that's been a really helpful book for me. As I've helped churches see where they are and what they can do. Is that is that a real possibility? Or do you think that's something that might need to happen to at this moment in Methodism that some churches just need to realize they're they're dying? The reason that I wrote. I'll touch them. To see church was because

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Thom Rainer: I wanted them that aren't dead yet to be able to face reality. Why do we do autopsies. Well, we do autopsies, typically the first sensors to determine the cause of death. Why do we want to know the cause of death?

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Thom Rainer: Well, we want it to be prevented in the future if it's something within the family, something that is preventable, we want to do so. So I did autopsy of the deceased church by interviewing church members, former church members of churches that already close their doors and pastors. And I said, Tell me about your church. Tell me about your former church. I even had the opportunity to tour some of those churches, and I went behind chain link fence

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Thom Rainer: were bolted shut, and we went into dusty buildings, and it was just. It was just a scene of what can happen to a church if it does not

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Thom Rainer: look to the future. I mean talking about. We're we're going to do 2 point O, or we're going to do. The way we've always done it. That's like walking forward by turning your head backwards, you're going to run into. And ultimately you're going to get hurt. And I wrote autopsy because I wanted churches to see. I wanted leaders to see that if you continue on the path that you've always done it.

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Thom Rainer: you will go to the path of decline

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Thom Rainer: and ultimately closure. And that's that's the reality. And, as you know, Post Kovat

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Thom Rainer: Post, we post pandemic.

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we we we are seeing more and more churches close. As a matter of fact, I'm going to give you some data that we have not released yet. We will release it. And

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Thom Rainer: I know we're releasing it in a webinar in February late February, I think, but we'll be releasing it. So your listeners are going to get a little taste of of the data. We're looking at morbid churches. Now, morbid church is a church that's almost dead.

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Thom Rainer: We've been looking at churches that died. Now can we go to the Marbuns churches, and

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Thom Rainer: have an intervention potentially

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Thom Rainer: where they don't die. And it's many times it's deemed impossible. But it's not, it really is not. And so here's here's what we have discovered.

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Thom Rainer: We. We see churches go from health

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Thom Rainer: to unhealth, or lack of health to morabine, which is the precipice of death, to closing the doors, and that closing the doors may be a literal. We're shutting the church down. Maybe we're selling it to the building to a secular, or we make company, or it may be that another church takes over and replants it. But church, as you know, it, is closing the doors. Here's what we see.

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Thom Rainer: There are 300. I'm gonna go with 375,000 Protestant churches in the United States alone. out of those 375,000. If what we have seen in our research

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Thom Rainer: plays. Out of that 375,000 100,000 will close their doors in 5 years. So we're we're talking about 30 ish percent, 28% of all churches. Now do we predict that will happen? Not necessarily because we think that some intervention can take place, but that is the path.

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Andy Miller III: More than more than one out of 4 churches are owned right this moment.

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Andy Miller III: Well, I've heard interesting story of a church in North Carolina that had disaffiliated from the United Church and started using your book. And they realized they thought maybe, that that disaffiliation would turn things around. Well, it didn't. And just in the first few months they realized they had some other problems. And so they went through your book, and they realized they were pretty much dead, and that's not a term. I'm used to got it. Okay.

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Andy Miller III: So they really, that was who they were. So they took your advice like you said. You know they'll some of the last pages of your book says, you know. Sell the property, give the money to another Christian mission ministry. Combine it with another church. Give your church to a church in that community a church that's wanted to be planted. But so they started to look around for a church that could take them over, and the the church came in on the on the front of their church. It said,

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Andy Miller III: No skateboarding. No, no no biking and that sort of thing. So then another church came in and they said, we wanna make this because right across the street from high School. That's why I had the no skateboarding sign.

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Andy Miller III: So this other church wants to make it into a skateboarding church. That is fabulous. Did they did it work? Well, I think they're in the process right now of of voting through that voting through it. But realize, like this is who this is who we are. Now, I actually look at that as a beautiful moment to use the capital assets that have been developed as sad as it might be to accomplish the main goal which is the great commission.

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Thom Rainer: God established that Church and His power, and His strength and His will, when it was founded to be a lighthouse in that community, unless the community no longer exists, which is unusual. I'm talking about any community every now and then it'll go all industrial, but it's unusual that there aren't residences around to some extent.

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Thom Rainer: There's still supposed to be a lighthouse in that community, and I would I would love to see morbid churches or sick churches, or you know II think one of my team members got the URL church, and and if I'm not mistaken, that forge to church answers, I don't know if I really want that, because I I'd rather talk about new life instead of

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death. But

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Thom Rainer: if we study death, we can study the causes of it. The greatest medical breakthroughs have come through autopsies. Why not? The greatest church breakthroughs come through learning what happened to dying in dead churches.

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Andy Miller III: Yeah. And I love in that book how you help people see that if they're if they're dying, there still is a possibility, but it does mean dramatic intervention. It does mean dramatic change.

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Andy Miller III: What what is it? I know this isn't a there's probably not clear answer. But what is it that stops people

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Andy Miller III: from really pursuing that dramatic change right in your experience is when you confront them with this information like this is what it's gonna take for you to not die.

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Thom Rainer: What? What stops people from taking those steps forward? I'm really well, there's there's a 2 level issue. The first is the common issue with change 1. One of the books that I wrote with Eric Geiger call Simple church. We we talk about

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Thom Rainer: people who've had heart conditions, who will not change, even though the doctor said, if you lose weight, if you, if you if you do this exercise, and it's all minus. If you do these things, you will live. If you don't, you will die. And I don't remember a percentage that we stated was a high percentage ultimately choose to die. So the the first thing that we gotta realize is that change is

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Thom Rainer: not inherent in the human person. It is, it is not something that is natural. It is either greatly human pushed, or God pushed 1 one of the way.

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So we're dealing with the overall issue of change. You know, when Kotter wrote leading change many years ago, you know he he was dealing with it at the business level at the corporate level. I wrote a simpler book because I'm not nearly as smart as he is called, who moved my pulpit about change and and what takes and what takes place there. So the first level is

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Thom Rainer: change is not the natural disposition of a human. So we like routines. I like routines. I sleep on the same side of the bed, and it may be because I'm in a routine, or it may be because my wife won't let me have the other side of the bed, but either way I sleep on the side of the bed. I usually travel the same path. To most most places I go, even if there's a better path, because I am in a routine. So you're dealing with that first level

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Thom Rainer: of just a disposition that pushes against change. But you're also dealing with a deeper level. When you're talking about churches.

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Thom Rainer: Many of the things that church members resist have become in their minds and heart points of sacred holiness. And in in other words, they've they've almost become icons. They've almost become something that is, that is really not Biblical, not worthy of worship, but because they have done it in their church. They feel like this is the way churches done it. So second thing that can really help these churches. And we've we've tried to push them in this direction in many situations

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Thom Rainer: is to go visit 3 or 4 other churches that are healthy, and see the difference between a healthy church and your church. We recently did that in a church in North Carolina.

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Thom Rainer: and they went to see another church that we knew was healthy for specific issues, and they were blown away. So you know, those are some starting points. Start with the great commission. But even before you start with great commission. You have to come up with

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Thom Rainer: dealing with denial and dealing with reality. Yes.

00:24:25.470 --> 00:24:39.700
Andy Miller III: that's really helpful, and I think people are. I'm I'm surprised at how often people have been in a church their whole life, and they don't don't know anything else. And so I grew up in a church in the Salvation Army, where people

00:24:39.700 --> 00:25:03.209
Andy Miller III: wear uniforms or wore uniforms to to church, and as beautiful of a external witness that that can be. It often has become a sign of something that's internal and and something that's mainly about preserving can be about preserving a certain culture, so much so that it was meant to be kind of an external evangelistic tool, probably in its origins.

00:25:03.210 --> 00:25:14.339
Andy Miller III: But people will often. And and there's a I say this because there's parallels to other church traditions. People sometimes will come into the Salvation Army, put on their uniform.

00:25:14.570 --> 00:25:32.899
Andy Miller III: go go into the sanctuary, and then take it off before they leave. Right? And so what is that? I mean that that says something about the nature of what it's doing it. It's a internal peace as opposed to something that's meant to bring people in. And sadly, it can become like a

00:25:33.220 --> 00:25:36.890
Andy Miller III: club membership. Almost so like those. Yeah, happen. Things are very present.

00:25:36.930 --> 00:25:43.350
Thom Rainer: And and I will say that in the last 60 days the the most

00:25:43.570 --> 00:25:46.130
caustic criticism that I have received.

00:25:46.520 --> 00:25:57.779
Thom Rainer: and many many of the many of the criticisms that I get or deserve. So I'm not suggesting. That was when I just simply did a very simple article on who's passing an offer in plate. Now, Postcovid.

00:25:58.160 --> 00:26:00.380
Thom Rainer: that's that's all it is, and and

00:26:00.620 --> 00:26:17.470
Thom Rainer: I guess I implied by not pushing against it that it's okay. If you do not pass the offer in plate, I'm a part of a church that does not have offering plate or bag or basket or anything. The gifts can go in a box. But 90%. 92% of our church gives online. So

00:26:17.520 --> 00:26:21.440
Thom Rainer: so I just suggested that he went ballistic.

00:26:21.560 --> 00:26:33.449
Thom Rainer: I mean, it was 1,500 words. I hope I'm not exactly. It was long. Okay, it was long, and he, boy, he went after me about the offering and and how it's such a sacred moment

00:26:33.560 --> 00:26:43.020
Thom Rainer: and can be. But it's it's not offering itself. It's the heart and the disposition of generosity and giving. That is the sacred moment.

00:26:43.200 --> 00:26:44.050
Andy Miller III: Yeah.

00:26:44.390 --> 00:27:00.670
Andy Miller III: Tom, I jumped right into the global Methodist Methodist moment. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself what your own tradition, I imagine you serve the church at some point. You haven't always just been serving consultancy or working through advising people. Just tell us a little bit about your background.

00:27:00.780 --> 00:27:07.369
Thom Rainer: I have a weird background. I grew up in the United Methodist Church.

00:27:07.430 --> 00:27:13.840
Thom Rainer: Okay, till I was 13 years old. The church had a doctrinal split

00:27:14.510 --> 00:27:20.559
Thom Rainer: back then. No, out 50 plus years ago. So the church had a doctrinal split back. Then.

00:27:20.570 --> 00:27:31.090
Thom Rainer: The church I went to, I think, was called Southern Methodist. If I recall correctly, I don't even know if they're still around. But then that church had another doctrine split because it was they were still arguing.

00:27:31.220 --> 00:27:35.760
Thom Rainer: So at the age of 13 I told my parents I wasn't going to church anymore.

00:27:35.960 --> 00:27:49.879
Thom Rainer: They had trouble persuading me otherwise because of what I'd seen the witness in in the the infighting and the the bitter things and the families that were divided, and I could go on and on on that. So I went unchurched from 13 to 22,

00:27:49.930 --> 00:27:52.390
Thom Rainer: which I should not have done.

00:27:52.430 --> 00:27:57.709
Thom Rainer: I know that. But I it's it's it's been a great benefit for me, even though it's a long time ago

00:27:57.910 --> 00:28:01.419
Thom Rainer: I saw for almost a decade through the eyes of an unchurched person.

00:28:01.460 --> 00:28:22.509
Thom Rainer: I went back to church. When I got married, one of the stipulations that my bride put upon the marriage bows was, we're gonna get in that. We're gonna get in church. I was a believer. I was an UN church believer, and so we got back in church, and I got I was part of Southern Baptist tradition for some time. I'm now. I'm now in a non denomin church, so you know, kind of gone from.

00:28:22.520 --> 00:28:30.269
Thom Rainer: I've gone from different different areas. But my background is this, I'm a fifth, a wise, a fifth generation banker. I grew up as a

00:28:30.460 --> 00:28:34.150
Thom Rainer: in banking finance degree

00:28:34.250 --> 00:28:54.169
Thom Rainer: along with my master's seminary. Started on the Mba. Didn't finish the Mba. But started on it, and so love the business world. From there I pastored 4 churches, and I did go to seminary. So that included 6 years at seminary. I'm a very slow learner, and so I spent 6 years there and got a couple of degrees and

00:28:54.530 --> 00:28:56.630
pastored 4 churches, Indiana.

00:28:57.400 --> 00:29:00.560
Thom Rainer: Florida, Alabama, and

00:29:00.840 --> 00:29:28.430
Thom Rainer: missing a church, Indiana, Florida, Alabama. I'll remember in just a minute. So jump jumping around quite a bit. There's all east of the Mississippi, though. Oh, Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, the first 2 churches! The first one was called Hopewell Baptist, in Indiana. The second one was called Hopewell Baptist, in Kentucky, and they were both on the border, so they were like 30 miles from each other, Indiana. So anyway, I'm confused.

00:29:28.660 --> 00:29:31.469
Thom Rainer: 4 4 churches!

00:29:31.570 --> 00:29:43.709
Thom Rainer: At 1 point I was called to be a dean of the seminary from where I graduated. So I went into the world of academia like you are, and I served as a dean for 12 years. So about a dozen years.

00:29:43.960 --> 00:29:45.849
Thom Rainer: While I was a pastor

00:29:46.010 --> 00:29:52.700
Thom Rainer: I started doing accidental consulting on the side, and I just helped churches, and it kind of evolved. There's a story to that.

00:29:52.810 --> 00:30:15.119
Thom Rainer: While I was the Dean I was more, much more intentional about being a consultant, because that's one. In the world of academia, as you know. If you can write, you can consult. There are things that are encouraged, particularly in the world of scy gigs. And so I developed a practice that I was about to take solo, I was about to leave the seminary, because I got into the point where I had to make a choice, so.

00:30:15.910 --> 00:30:33.390
Thom Rainer: instead of making a choice. I was called to be the CEO of the largest Christian resource company in the world, which is life way. So I went, headed up a company that had 5,000 employees and learned a lot about big corporate, even though it's Christian, the the big corporation. I stayed there 13 years. Wow!

00:30:33.500 --> 00:30:37.560
I finally got to do what my dream was, and I retired a little bit early

00:30:37.900 --> 00:30:39.650
Thom Rainer: and started church answers.

00:30:39.840 --> 00:30:51.109
Thom Rainer: And that's that was that was my intention at Seminary before I went to Lightway, that my wife and I had already worked on all the legal work we were ready to move.

00:30:51.200 --> 00:31:10.780
Thom Rainer: We're gonna move from Louisville, where we were at the time to to Florida, and we were ready to go, and 2 things happened. She developed. She was diagnosed with very serious cancer. She she survived. So praise God for that. And then, then, secondly, lifeway contacted me. And so my plans were changed. II kept trying to go

00:31:11.020 --> 00:31:31.209
Andy Miller III: solo independent. So now now I have a small company. We have about 21 employees. It's you know, it's not the big big corporation I was part of. But I'm loving every minute of it. So that's that church that's the church answer started. That's really helpful to hear. And you work with your son as well. We we said that before the call, and I know they've written some books with him in the past. Right? He's the president of your of church answers.

00:31:31.400 --> 00:31:52.199
Andy Miller III: I've written I've co-authored with all 3 of my sons. Oh, forgive me, for II know I only knew I see the last name together there, so I hadn't realized that. So tell me real quick. Well, Sam is the oldest, and he he's still a pastor in Bradenton, Florida, incredible job, but he also serves as President of church answers in the Co. Vocational world.

00:31:52.200 --> 00:32:04.259
my son, art is CEO of a company. He started, called Christian Money solutions, Christian money, and the big thing that they have done is they they have started a resource

00:32:04.270 --> 00:32:10.219
Thom Rainer: there, others out there. But they started a resource for churches to use to learn more about.

00:32:10.520 --> 00:32:31.619
Thom Rainer: I ought to be good stewards of the money. It's not quite the same world to say, Dave Ramsey. But there are similarities that are there. So so he's CEO of a Christian money solutions. But he gives me 10 HA week at church, answers, okay, so I get that from him. Then Jess is my youngest son, and Jess is a pastor. Sam's a pastor as well.

00:32:31.750 --> 00:32:40.119
Thom Rainer: and he gives me about 10 HA week as well have them in specific roles. So when we have our staff meeting always, by zoom, we're all virtual.

00:32:40.160 --> 00:32:41.910
Thom Rainer: When we have our staff meeting.

00:32:42.090 --> 00:33:01.660
Thom Rainer: You have the 2 owners on there, me and my wife, and you have the 3 sons, and then you have about 15 or 16 other people, so I get to be with my sons, either virtually or in person, on a regular basis. My youngest son is my pastor when I'm in Franklin, which is in the Nashville area. My oldest son is my pastor. When I'm in Bradenton I split time between the 2.

00:33:01.700 --> 00:33:19.610
Andy Miller III: Oh, what of? Oh, I love that I'm gonna pray that something like that can happen from my life is the greatest, the greatest joy, the greatest joy. And you mentioned that Sam is a by vocational, I mean, maybe they're all working, since by vocationally, that I think that's one of the shifts that's gonna have to be made to in the

00:33:19.610 --> 00:33:40.689
Andy Miller III: global Methodists or in this new Methodist moment. Let's just say that as people are no longer just being assigned a pastor who's just gonna come their way. You know preachers come, preachers go praise God, from whom all blessings flow like, and they've allowed that to be the driving force, for how their congregations develop, and it might be that some of the smaller churches aren't in a position

00:33:40.690 --> 00:33:43.239
Andy Miller III: to have people come in, and

00:33:43.250 --> 00:33:45.260
Andy Miller III: who are what what you know.

00:33:45.270 --> 00:34:03.239
Andy Miller III: So many churches are reaching out to us now as a Biblical seminary saying, we need a pastor. We need pastor, and generally here's what they say. They want somebody who's 42 with 2.5 30 years experience? 2.5 kids. Yeah, what are they doing? They're going to the past and let me distinguish something. I know we're running out of time, but let me distinguish something.

00:34:03.840 --> 00:34:10.459
Thom Rainer: I would I would it would help if churches understood the distinction between bivocational and covocation. Alright. Tell me about that. Yeah.

00:34:10.500 --> 00:34:26.280
by by, the vocational is typically financially driven. In other words, you cannot pay someone full time. That's the that's the driving force, and that's why you have a bivocational. The other alternative is co vocational, and it's where you intentionally go into the world

00:34:26.429 --> 00:34:27.260
Thom Rainer: and

00:34:27.440 --> 00:34:36.770
Thom Rainer: look for people who may have a call to ministry, but not a call out of the marketplace. And so they do. Both Jimmy Scroggins at family church and

00:34:36.780 --> 00:34:44.059
Thom Rainer: the main campuses in West Palm Beach. I think they now have 14 campuses, and most of their campuses are.

00:34:44.090 --> 00:35:05.100
Thom Rainer: have a pastor who's covocational like one is a physician, and there are others. So these are people who say I'm called to be in the work in the marketplace. But I have a sense of call to vocational ministry is their place to do both. And it's not a financially driven decision. It is a ministry driven. Okay, that's helpful. I haven't heard that distinction before.

00:35:05.460 --> 00:35:13.469
Andy Miller III: So so that it's not we in those situations would the compensation be minor from the church in light of that

00:35:13.600 --> 00:35:22.880
Thom Rainer: typically it is typically typically a physician is not going to take a big paycheck from the church, but that person has a certain

00:35:22.960 --> 00:35:29.309
Thom Rainer: sphere of connections that would be very appropriate for the context of that community. Gotcha.

00:35:29.450 --> 00:35:40.170
Andy Miller III: speaking of pastors and calling pastors all of a sudden, there's this interesting moment that I've already talked to dozens of churches who have never, never selected a pastor before.

00:35:40.210 --> 00:36:01.789
Andy Miller III: Congregational friends, how does this work give us some advice? Give some of these churches advice about what they should be thinking about as far as a process, and leading to a place of of

00:36:01.880 --> 00:36:03.510
Andy Miller III: finding a new pastor

00:36:03.720 --> 00:36:11.910
Thom Rainer: first, I would be very careful in getting too much advice from existing systems, because they have the same issues, the way that they've always

00:36:12.030 --> 00:36:36.079
and many of the whatever you call them pastor search committees, or whatever process even elder boards calling, calling pastors. There, there tends to be the the old way that we've all always done, and the way that we always done it is we're going to call the seminaries. We're going to get resumes, and we're going to take 6 months to go through a hundred resumes, and we we may find one out of that. So I would be very, very cautious

00:36:36.080 --> 00:36:43.700
Thom Rainer: about doing a search that way. If I'm doing a search, I would ask the question, What is the culture and the DNA of this church?

00:36:43.700 --> 00:37:02.869
Thom Rainer: And how can we find that person? There's a different answer to many of those. Now, methodologically, you may have a leadership group in the church that's going to find it. But don't do it the old way where you're just culling through resumes and listening to someone preach, which is the way many and other traditions have done it. And based upon that, you could call a pastor.

00:37:02.870 --> 00:37:14.580
You gotta find someone that God has called in that culture in that context, in that community that at least in your own power and guide leading you, you can understand that person will be a fit.

00:37:14.780 --> 00:37:32.360
Andy Miller III: Yeah, so is the the week weaknesses. It's just finding a good preacher and thinking, that's all you need right? That's a may. Maybe they will be a good preacher. But is that? Is that a trap that some Congregational systems fall into and part of the trap is many of these leaders. Many of these pastors

00:37:32.530 --> 00:37:34.769
describe their calling as a call to preach

00:37:35.370 --> 00:37:55.250
Thom Rainer: it is. But it's a lot more than that, right. It's a cult to evangelize. It's called Shepherd. It's a cult, be a pastor in the community. So there's so many other things to look at. So yes, the default position is. Now let's go. Let's go online and listen to 15 pastors. Find find a sermon we like, and let's go after that one.

00:37:55.750 --> 00:37:56.850

00:37:57.000 --> 00:38:06.919
Andy Miller III: Well, that's that's really helpful. I find that people are really in this moment confused. Now, some of the denominational systems will help will provide resources. But in general

00:38:06.940 --> 00:38:28.330
Andy Miller III: they're they're by themselves like they're having to figure this out themselves. And I just say, Praise the Lord, you have a amazing opportunity. Don't blow it by just missing. By just going back to a reflex that might not be healthy. We can learn from people like you along the way. Let me just get 1 one less. One last thing I'll say that I'll shut my mouth.

00:38:28.390 --> 00:38:31.809
Thom Rainer: Don't overlook the possibility of calling from within.

00:38:32.250 --> 00:38:41.149
Thom Rainer: That has happened more and more. And you there may be some one that you say, boy. If they ever went into ministry they would be an incredible pastor.

00:38:41.340 --> 00:38:42.639
Thom Rainer: Well, you know that's

00:38:42.980 --> 00:38:52.189
Thom Rainer: that might be the person you call, and it may be by vocational, co-vocational, or it might be a traditional, full, compensated pastor. Don't, don't, don't leave that out.

00:38:52.680 --> 00:38:57.910
Andy Miller III: and then you can send them the Wesley Biblical Seminary. Right?

00:38:58.390 --> 00:39:24.769
Andy Miller III: It's it, you know. That's that's so often been the case. We've heard this story many times. So as the global Methodist church has emerged, they've changed. This is one of the beautiful things that they've done. They've changed the nature of their credentialing. So you used to have multiple layers of credentialing, but they've moved it to have simply an elder and a deacon in an order. The educational requirements. Are facilitated like through a seminary like ours, where you take

00:39:24.880 --> 00:39:44.790
Andy Miller III: 10 classes at past, fail to be a deacon, and then another 10 classes. If you wanted to be an elder. Well, in the, we've had a 400% growth in our seminary because of this program, it's it's an amazing moment, and in some of the classes that I've taught I had II can point to 3 stories there, just what you said, where the

00:39:44.790 --> 00:39:55.459
Andy Miller III: maybe the Church lost their vote, their disaffilation vote, and then the next week they started church, and they don't have a pastor. So they just recognize the gifts that God has given to people there. One is one of those

00:39:55.600 --> 00:40:05.050
Andy Miller III: a beekeeper who's also a school counselor, and now is tri-vocational, is also a preacher, and within my preaching class and did a fabulous job.

00:40:05.100 --> 00:40:15.209
Andy Miller III: And II think it would be it could have been easy. Say, oh, we're gonna wait. We're just gonna figure out who we can get from a seminary. But maybe that person's right under your nose.

00:40:15.830 --> 00:40:18.899
Thom Rainer: Yep, I would not forsake that at all.

00:40:19.310 --> 00:40:47.859
Andy Miller III: So what I've if you have a few more minutes I'd love to just ask you. I loved your book. I know you've several becoming a welcoming church. I'd love to get just a couple of insights there. And I think, as churches are trying to even set themselves up physically like what their their basic structures. They're trying to develop websites. Could you give us just a few of the insights there? And I'll just encourage people that go and buy that book if you're in a new moment methods. But could you just give us a little hint of what's what's there? Some of those things that people at churches aren't doing

00:40:47.860 --> 00:40:49.809
Andy Miller III: in becoming a welcoming church.

00:40:50.320 --> 00:41:09.239
Thom Rainer: Think of of the great Commission in different phases, if you will, and I'm not trying to just isolate the phases and make it a checklist of things to do. But the the first phase is a change of culture, which is an outward focus. That's what we have been seeing and doing with the Hope initiative. But then the second phase is

00:41:09.320 --> 00:41:22.700
Thom Rainer: becoming a welcoming church, because if you connect with them in the community, and that they come to your church, and they have a neutral to negative experience. That means the process has stopped at that time.

00:41:22.720 --> 00:41:50.100
Thom Rainer: and quite frankly, most churches do not see their congregation from the perspective of a community person who may have little church background or no church background. So what we do in becoming a welcoming church is, we basically tell them this is what churches have done that have been fruitful. This is what churches have done that have not been. And here's the difference between the 2, and we. We walk them through it. We do have, and we do have an accompanying book that is

00:41:50.280 --> 00:42:10.659
Thom Rainer: re really, almost every time we see a cell becoming a welcoming church that one cell it's called. We want you here, and it doesn't have an author on it. I'm the author. It doesn't have an author, but you give it to the guest. I read a book about how much, how glad we are you visited. So we're seeing we're seeing a lot of people just put that in a gift bag and giving it to people in in the church. So

00:42:10.660 --> 00:42:23.710
Thom Rainer: that's that's a high, level view of becoming a welcoming church. It does get granular enough where I think that someone could do that with the book become a welcoming church. Some point will have a resource on it. But for now

00:42:24.210 --> 00:42:43.849
Andy Miller III: yeah, it's one of those things that you have like. The the time, the time of greeting you. You helped that. I'll tell you one of these. I know you've heard these type of stories before, but I gave your book to a church, one of the largest Salvation Army churches in the in the country, but as a that means 350 members, but I gave it to them, because

00:42:43.850 --> 00:42:55.960
Andy Miller III: when they came in they had a time of greeting. First of all, you know, and this scared all new people, but then, after that they had somebody go around with a microphone in front of 350 people and said, If you're a new stand up.

00:42:56.020 --> 00:42:59.450
Andy Miller III: and then they pointed to him and tell us why you came here.

00:43:00.190 --> 00:43:16.230
Thom Rainer: Well, guess what? You will not see him a second time. Some some of the research we've done on this is just will blow people away. II may have the numbers a little off, because they don't have data in front of me, but I'm going to be close. 75%

00:43:16.660 --> 00:43:27.320
Thom Rainer: of unchurched people do not want to welcome time at all. Do not wanna greet. I think it may even be higher. But here's here's here's the kicker. Over 50% of church members don't want one.

00:43:27.380 --> 00:43:29.040
Andy Miller III: Hmm! Interesting.

00:43:29.150 --> 00:43:41.649
Thom Rainer: So even if you're just dealing with the family there, they don't like it. I'm an introvert. My my idea of fun is going and sticking my head in a corner with a computer screen in front of me for 8 h. So I'm I'm a classic introvert.

00:43:42.300 --> 00:44:05.519
Andy Miller III: Yeah. Well, I should encourage people to take a look at that book, you know. So you can. You think about the people who are coming in, how you can follow up, how you're welcoming them, how you're like thinking about your website. And that's the way people are welcome. So there's a lot of resources, Tom, that you've developed through the years that I so much appreciate, and I hope people will pay attention to the things that you've said. As you're trying to develop healthy churches.

00:44:05.620 --> 00:44:27.359
Andy Miller III: One reason. My podcast is called more of this story is a theological reason, because we want to say there's more than just getting our sins forgiven. There's the call to sanctifying grace in this life. But also I like to think there's more to the story of each of my guests. So Tom is there. Is there a hobby you have? Is there more to the story of Tom Rainer. You're on a lot of podcasts and things. But is there? Is there something that you don't often get to talk about?

00:44:28.730 --> 00:44:36.070
Thom Rainer: There's probably good reason I don't get to talk about it, cause I love college football. II am a college football fanatic.

00:44:36.270 --> 00:44:53.900
Thom Rainer: and I graduated from a school that just lost his coach, the University of Alabama. And we we're we're seeing the transfer portal become. This abyss where we're just losing people right and left. But here's my, what? You may not know about me, but you really don't need to know this about me.

00:44:54.120 --> 00:45:03.720
Thom Rainer: I'm such a football fanatic. I played high school football, got a couple of small college offers, but nothing that I wanted to take up seriously

00:45:03.750 --> 00:45:21.550
Thom Rainer: knew that I couldn't walk on at Alabama, but I wanted to go to Alabama, so I didn't play for Alabama just to be clear. Anybody that's listening don't even hit that. I did. But there was a coach named Bear Bryant, and I was such a fan of him that I selected my apartment on campus right outside the practice field.

00:45:21.570 --> 00:45:28.279
Thom Rainer: and the practice fill was covered where you could not see what was going on inside the fence, but the bear, as he was called.

00:45:28.290 --> 00:45:57.780
Thom Rainer: every practice, ascended to a tower to look over. So every day I will get in my lounge chair during sip football season, and I would get my binoculars, and I would watch his expressions during practice. Now that is weird, weird. Oh, man, that is that. Well, that's real commitment. So so what do you think of the the way things are realig? We have this Upcoming Playoff Series playoff.

00:45:57.780 --> 00:46:22.299
Thom Rainer: Set it up. And what do you think? Are you wanting to go back to the old ways, or what do you think I'm not about selling? Go back to the old ways when we've been encouraging church members to look? Things are going to change. We might as well, except the way that things are going to change, and it'll the the pendulum has swung really much in favor of the players right now. That'll that'll shift a little bit back. It's just it's part of moving forward, so, except it move on. Don't worry about it.

00:46:22.430 --> 00:46:30.970
Andy Miller III: I think your new coach is pretty good. I think I know you're worried. Probably with all these transfer portal things. But he's gonna bring people into. I think you're gonna be okay.

00:46:31.010 --> 00:46:35.469
Thom Rainer: You know what I think. We got the best coach other than the one we had.

00:46:35.490 --> 00:46:43.640
Thom Rainer: So I really, I really like the bore. I like him for a lot of reasons. I like his character. I really do

00:46:43.900 --> 00:47:12.270
Andy Miller III: so. That's my opinion. I don't know. It's good. You're Mississippi, are you a Mississippi fan? Oh, no, I'm I am a big 10 person, and that, you know, pulls me away from a lot of people. My audience, I grew up in the Midwest. Believe it or not. De Boer was at my I I didn't attend there, but I'm an Indiana hoosers fan. He was offensive coordinator. Our last time we had a good season, so and he took our quarter, Michael Pinx, you know, Washington, so I always root for Big 10, which gets me in trouble

00:47:12.270 --> 00:47:19.970
Thom Rainer: down here, but you can't help but follow the sec situations as they're going around. I thought I thought Mississippi's man was going to come your way.

00:47:20.600 --> 00:47:31.780
Thom Rainer: Few bridge, too many bridges burned, unfortunately, but he he did a great job as offensive coordinator for Alabama, so he would have done a good job, but we knew that he wasn't even on the list.

00:47:32.000 --> 00:47:42.529
Andy Miller III: Yeah, sure. Well, Tom, tell us where people can find your resources. What's the best church, Answerscom, is that it, church Answerscom. And here's where they can get everything free.

00:47:42.530 --> 00:48:12.519
Thom Rainer: Okay? Like that, we send, we send a lot 90% of what we do is free and never buy a resource from us. Use our free stuff. Just go to Tomra. I'm sorry Church,, and just click on that. You want to sign up for our monthly I mean a daily Newsletter, and you will get so many resources, not just information. But we give a lot of we give away a lot of free resources through that. So just do that, we'd love to have them. Okay, that sounds great thanks, so much for coming on the podcast Tom. It's meant a lot to me.

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Thom Rainer: My joy. Thank you.

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