Thom Rainer on the difference between church consumers and church members

Thom Rainer on the difference between church consumers and church members
The Word at Westminster
The Word at Westminster
Thom Rainer on the difference between church consumers and church members
[This episode is cross-posted from ‘The Pulse Podcast with Matthew Ruttan.’]

Thom Rainer wrote a blog called “Eleven Signs You Are Becoming a Church Consumer Instead of a Committed Church Member.”

That certainly caught my attention! And since he’s the founder and CEO of Church Answers and has served as the CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources and dean of Southern Seminary, I paid very close attention to what he had to say.

His words were concise, honest and thought-provoking.

These are challenging times. Consumerism has invaded many churches and threatens their health. But these are also times of opportunity. In this interview, Dr. Rainer shares insights from his books about church membership and the post-quarantine church, and gives us some practical, biblical and inspiring things to think about.

The Pulse Podcast is about living abundantly wholeheartedly. It includes feature topics, interviews, and weekly biblical studies. This episode is a talk with Dr. Rainer. But before I list some of our specific discussion topics, let me tell you a bit more about him.

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers and Executive Director of Revitalize Network. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama where he received his degree in business administration.  He received both the master of divinity and the Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary. Dr. Rainer has served as pastor of four churches. He is the former president of Rainer Group consulting. He served for twelve years as dean at Southern Seminary and for thirteen years as the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Dr. Rainer has authored or co-authored 33 books. Among his greatest joys are his family which includes 11 grandchildren.

You can listen to the audio version of our talk here or wherever you listen to podcasts (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Audible or TuneIn). You can also watch it on YouTube (link below).


YouTube version:

Discussion topics:

  • Rainer writes: “Without a doubt, Western culture has shifted; and it has shifted largely against churches.” What makes the Canadian church context different than the American one?
  • The first thing on the list from your blog is that “your worship attendance becomes optional.” Why is that a sign of having a consumeristic mentality?
  • How did your quarantine experience impact your attitudes about the role other people play in your faith?
  • What is the difference between having legitimate concerns with the church and “being critical”?
  • The local church is analogous to marriage.
  • Why is praying for the church so important, and what are some things people should be praying for?
  • What does it mean to be truly contributing to the body of Christ? (The bar is getting lower and lower.)
  • Is going to worship as the gathered church a choice among many or is it a priority among all?
  • “There have been some challenges, to be sure, but there have been many more opportunities… [T]he church is entering the most amazing and exciting days it has seen in decades—maybe even in centuries.” (The Post-Quarantine Church, 8-9) What can a committed church member do to be a part of these opportunities?
  • “…a year-by-year process of replacing the Great Commission with a great complacency” (The Post-Quarantine Church, 48)
  • “The concept of an inactive church member is an oxymoron.” (I am a Church Member, 16)

Links and Resources:


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