The Readers Have Spoken to Me (and I Have Heard Them)

Wow. I cannot thank you readers sufficiently for the incredible survey responses you gave me. I have read every one of them. I literally printed all of the responses, and now have a huge stack of paper on my desk.

Not only did I read them, I truly listened to you. As a result, I will likely make some modifications to the blog in the future.

Here is what I am doing for now. We will extend for one more week the contest for the $250 LifeWay gift card and three signed copies of Autopsy of a Deceased Church, plus ten runner-up prizes of a signed copy of Autopsy. If you entered last week by doing the survey, you can have your name eligible for the drawing twice by sending me an email. I’ll share more information on how to submit your e-mail at the end of this article. If you did not send a survey, you can still enter the contest this week by responding to my email request.

Okay, here are some of the results of the survey. Here is what you told me.

Who Are My Readers?

  • You represent diverse age groups. The largest single group is represented by the Millennials. They account for 29% of my readers.
  • The readers are primarily males (86%). I have to do better in my writings to get more female readers.
  • You come from a variety of different communities: rural, urban, suburban, small town, and medium-size town. Rural residents represent one out of five of the readers.
  • I was surprised to see the variety of your vocations. You are pastors, church staff, and a variety of lay positions. You are physicians, attorneys, blue-collar workers, policemen, firemen, and many more.
  • Though the majority of the readers are from my denomination, it is only a slight majority. More than four out of ten of you are not Southern Baptists. My annual readership is about 4.75 million page views, so that means about 2 million views are from those other than my denomination.
  • You come from churches whose worship attendance almost mirrors the national average. That means 55% of you are in churches with a worship attendance of 200 and under. And 27 percent of you are from churches with a worship attendance of 400 and above.

What Don’t You Like About My Blog?

  • “You are too technical. Lighten up.”
  • “Your hair looks like a helmet.”
  • “You write too much from a Baptist perspective.”
  • “You need to offer your opinion more, rather than just giving a lot of statistics.”
  • “Too many numbered steps. Not everything has to be a list.”
  • “You write too much from an American perspective.”
  • “Your mom spelled ‘Thom’ wrong.”

What Do You Like about My Blog?

  • “It is very practical.”
  • “Your love of pastors and local churches.”
  • “Your concise and plain writing style.”
  • “You stay on top of trends church leaders need to know.”
  • “Your willingness to let your critics comment without you being defensive.”
  • “There are times I would swear you were writing about my church.”
  • “Biblically based and highly applicable.”

What About the Length and the Frequency of the Blog Posts?

  • 80% of you like the length of my posts. 19% of you would like to see them longer.
  • 70% of you like the frequency of my posts. 26% of you would like me to post more frequently.

What Would You Like to Talk with Me About over a Cup of Coffee?

Those responses were absolutely incredible. One thing I know for sure is that you are really interested in your churches becoming healthier. You expressed that concern in a number of ways. You also surprised me by the number of comments expressing a desire to know me better personally. Listen to this comment:

“Thom seems extraordinarily intentional about his words. They are sometimes sanitized. That can be good, but I’ve never once gotten a behind-the scenes, raw, authentic perspective of who he really is. I appreciate his empathy toward pastors, but I’d like to knows some things beyond words that will help me connect better.”

You readers have really helped me. Thank you. I was encouraged by so much of what you said. And, yes, even the critical comments were helpful.

A Concluding Word (For Now) and This Week’s Contest

This survey has confirmed my feelings that I need to offer video content from time to time. In fact, many of you would like me to speak in a conference type way through my blog.

So here is my question:

If I delivered a video conference to you as a ministry on this blog, what would be your choice of topics?

Email your ideas to Jonathan and you will be entered in this week’s contest.

You have spoken.

I have listened.


  1. says

    I would like for you to concentrate on the movement of revitalization of churches, who are under 200 in attendance and encourage us in this task. So much of church life and focus is growing to be a big church yet for many of us we don’t see it happening. I want the church to grow in so many ways beyond numbers and it is hard to stay the course in the work.

  2. Mark Dance says

    The hair comment made me laugh so loud that I am afraid I woke my family up. Thanks for being real. Blog on!

  3. Mark George says

    I am a “has been” pastor who after a 12 year “sabbatical” has come back into the pastorate. I am one blessed child of God by His grace. Your insights have been extremely beneficial to one who’s been “out of the loop” for some time. I learn and benefit from each of your blogs, observations and informational excerpts. THANKS and blessings.

  4. Ben says

    Please don’t stop using numbered lists. I love that. I use many of your blogs to train my staff in staff meeting and numbered lists work great in that setting. I really hope you don’t make big changes because of the survey because I really love it just the way it is. Just one man’s opinion. Thanks for all that you do.

  5. mark says

    Bringing back the basic tenets of the faith which have been forgotten once politics and religion got in bed together.

  6. Lori Harding says

    “The readers are primarily males (86%). I have to do better in my writings to get more female readers.”

    I appreciate the desire to increase your female readership. Could it be that there are simply fewer women in a leadership capacity?

  7. Hunter says

    I would love to learn about practical / applicable ways to pastor through real life issues. What are some helpful ways to pastor / counsel others through things like grief, loss, depression, loneliness, persecution, sin issues, etc… Maybe even how to better build a church community designed to walk through these longer term issues well. How to cultivate a community within the church with a heart to restore each other through long term care.

  8. Joshua says


    Can I call you Thom? :) Let me give you a brief background and then I want to make a suggestion for you to consider. I grew up in a good Independent Baptist Church. It had elements of IFB but wasn’t full fledged “fundy.” I’m grateful for the spiritual teaching and preaching I received there and know that much of what I received was truth and right. I graduated from Bible college and then went as a youth pastor to a church where I was slightly more conservative than the church philosophy. Strange for a youth pastor, I know. For many reasons, mostly because of my youth, inexperience and ignorance, I ended up walking away from ministry for a couple of years. Then, circumstances (or sovereignty) would have it, I ended up in a very conservative church that was very IFB and suddenly I was the “outside the camp” guy. I was the “liberal.” Here I went through a full circle analysis of my philosophical beliefs. I tried to adapt to a super-conservative standard, but I never could buy-in to the philosophy. It was during this time of inner turmoil that I found two great “social media mentors” (you and Ed Stetzer) that helped me realize that the tension I was going through inside was healthy and that I was thinking in the same direction as men with a proven track record. The struggle now became to continue moving in an institutional direction when clearly I was being pulled in another. I came across your book “Simple Church” and it was like a light went off. Many of the scattered and unorganized thoughts and struggles I had been going through had been organized and put in a clear, concise, and manageable “process” (not the best of words, but hopefully you understand.) I then began to talk to a few of my friends that were in the same boat. We are on church staffs, we have gone through an internal philosophical struggle, we see that “church” as we know it is inevitably going to change and we want to help lead that process, but where we are it may truly be impossible because where we are philosophically many times doesn’t match up with leadership’s philosophy. I’m at a different church now, and it has been stated here that Simple Church is a direction we’ll never go. Personally, Simple Church made my heart soar, but Autopsy of a Dead Church hit way to close to home. I can see exactly what you’re talking about, and it chills me to the bone. Since finding your blog about 2 years ago, I’ve gotten a burden for church revitalization. I want to see existing churches find new life, and I love the ideas that you and others have presented such as church mergers, transfer of leadership, multi-site, etc. I guess my question/suggestion would be this: where does someone like me go to find a place to serve, or in my case, someone to serve under that wants to lead a revitalization effort in a church, not just settle for the status-quo or cling to a model or outdated philosophy? It would be wonderful if there was some central place for people to connect that have similar passions and philosophy and could team up to start a revitalization movement that could move alongside and hand-in-hand with the church plant movement. I think there are many of us out here that are like Silas or Barnabas, and we want to come alongside someone and put our shoulder into the labor alongside them. We’ll never be “the guy” but we were made to help “the guy.” Would love to know your thoughts. Thank you.

    • Thom Rainer says

      You can certainly call me “Thom.” I tried to get Nellie Jo to call me “Dr. Rainer,” but it didn’t work. I love your thoughts, Joshua. It is my prayer that God might use the resources of this site to gather an army for church revitalization. More to come . . .

  9. says

    I regularly post links to your articles and podcasts on my own blog. Your material is not only read or heard by pastors and other church leaders in North America–in the United States and Canada–but outside of North America–in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Nigeria, China, India, South Korea, Australia, and other countries around the world. These readers represent a wide range of denominational or network backgrounds. In your videos I would hope you would keep this readership in mind as well as the readers in North America. I will admit that balancing the needs of the two readerships is not easy. But I don’t think that we can shrink from that task because it is a difficult one.

  10. Jill Rohring says

    My choice of a videoconference would be for churches who are stuck with their minister, and too afraid to give them up (or give them the boot) How can we get confidence if no one wants to admit they need it?
    As to your hair, I haven’t even noticed a picture, I pay attention to the words!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *