Autopsy of a Deceased Church


For more than twenty-five years, Thom S. Rainer, author of Autopsy of a Deceased Church, has helped churches grow, reverse the trends of decline, and has autopsied those that have died. From his experiences, he has discovered twelve consistent themes among those churches that have died. Yet, it’s not gloom and doom because from those twelve themes, lessons on how to keep your church alive have emerged.

Whether your church is vibrant or dying, whether you are a pastor or a church member, Autopsy of a Deceased Church will walk you through the radical paths necessary to keep your church alive to the glory of God and advancement of Christ’s Kingdom!

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9781433683923 • 112 pages • Hardcover
Thom Rainer
B&H Publishing Group

I Am a Church Member

Based on an idea originally taken from this blog, I Am a Church Member discusses the attitudes and responsibilities of church members. Rainer addresses in detail what congregations should really be focusing on — praying for church leaders, being a functioning member, treasuring church membership, and more.

Six chapters with these titles include study questions to guide the discussion:

  1. I Will Be a Unifying Church Member
  2. I Will Not Let the Church Be About My Preferences and Desires
  3. I Will Pray for My Church Leaders
  4. I Will Lead My Family to Be Healthy Church Members
  5. I Will Be a Functioning Member
  6. I Will Treasure Church Membership as a Gift

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9781433679735 • 96 pages • Hardcover
Thom Rainer
B&H Publishing Group

The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation

At more than 78 million strong, the Millennials-those born between 1980 and 2000-have surpassed the Boomers as the larger and more influential generation in America. Now, as its members begin to reach adulthood, where the traits of a generation really take shape, best-selling research author Thom Rainer (Simple Church) and his son Jess (a Millennial born in 1985) present the first major investigative work on Millennials from a Christian worldview perspective. Sure to interest even the secularists who study this group, The Millennials is based on 1200 interviews with its namesakes that aim to better understand them personally, professionally, and spiritually. Chapters report intriguing how-and-why findings on family matters (they are closer-knit than previous generations), their desire for diversity (consider the wave of mixed race and ethnic adoptions), Millennials and the new workplace, their attitude toward money, the media, the environment, and perhaps most tellingly, religion.

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9781433670039 • 288 pages • Hardcover
Thom Rainer & Jess Rainer
B&H Publishing Group

Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations

In Transformational Church, best-selling research authors Ed Stetzer and Thom S. Rainer address the question: how does a body of believers do its part to be in the “sweet spot” where true spiritual transformation occurs? By surveying fifty thousand churches — then narrowing the scope down to five hundred congregations — Stetzer and Rainer share with readers the qualitative answer. Transformational Church, the most comprehensive study of the modern American church to date, contains a wealth of indispensable new data, nuanced insights, and how-to guidance, all centered on this key finding: “Transformational churches make disciples whose lives are being transformed by the gospel, so that people engage the culture around them for its ultimate transformation. Deeply committed to the essential foundations of discipleship (worship, community, and mission), transformational churches practice their faith and make disciples through vibrant leadership, prayerful dependence upon God, and relational intentionality. And they do so paying mind to their unique context and with a missionary mindset.”

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9781433669309 • 244 pages • Hardcover
Thom Rainer & Ed Stetzer
B&H Publishing Group

Vibrant Church: Becoming a Healthy Church in the 21st Century

Vibrant Church is a study of one of the most important doctrines of the Bible and one of the most crucial topics in Christianity today: the doctrine of ecclesiology, or the study of church. The nature of a biblical, New Testament church is a discussion that devoted followers of the Lord Jesus cannot ignore. After all, Christ said in Matthew 16:18, “I will build My church and the forces of Hades will not overpower it,” and Paul reminded us in Acts 20:28 that the body of believers is “the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.” Obviously, the church is important to the Lord. Therefore, it must be important to us as well.

The doctrine of the church is a hot topic in our own day, especially the question of what characterizes a healthy or vibrant church. Put this question on the table, and you may get as many answers as there are participants in the debate! In this book our goal is to be rigorously biblical while at the same time being relevant and practical. We will attempt to present sound theology in a way that is easy to understand, and then we will provide some insights and suggestions for how we can be the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in a 21st-century context.


9781415865415 • 160 pages • Paperback
Thom Rainer & Danny Akin

Simple Life: God, Time, Relationships, Money

Simple Life breaks life down into four key sections (God, Time, Relationships, Money), authors Thom S. Rainer and Art Rainer show how four key goals (Clarity, Movement, Alignment, Focus) can begin to foster a life that is more spiritual and less busy, a life rich in experiences with family and friends rather than double-booked to-do lists and late nights at the office. The book even lays out an easy-to-follow action plan that will move readers assuredly toward the simple life in just thirty days. Authors Thom S. Rainer and Art Rainer interviewed a cross-section of 1,077 individuals to confirm that most people feel their lives are overly stressful and misguided, not allowing enough time for what really counts. As they share these highly relatable stories, the Rainers chart a simple path from joyless to joyful.

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9780805448863 • 324 pages • Hardcover
Thom Rainer & Art Rainer
B&H Publishing Group

Raising Dad: What Fathers & Sons Learn from Each Other

All parents will tell you they learn as much from their children as their children learn from them. This truth is poignantly captured in Raising Dad: What Fathers & Sons Learn from Each Other by father-son authors Thom and Art Rainer. It was Art’s idea to write from a grown child’s perspective this tribute to his father’s successes as a parent. Inviting his father Thom to write postscripts to these reflections, another tender truth emerged. Dad’s memories about his own performance aren’t nearly as rose colored, giving those who read the book great inspiration to never stop growing and learning as a parent. All told, Raising Dadshares unforgettable lessons about faith, friendship, commitment, honesty, priorities—all the things that matter most in life between parents and children.

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9780805443912 • 212 pages • Hardcover
Thom Rainer & Art Rainer
B&H Publishing Group

Essential Church? Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts

Why do so many young adults (18 to 22) leave the church, and what will it take to bring them back? This important question is examined and duly answered in Essential Church?, a follow-up to Thom S. Rainer’s best-selling Simple Church cowritten this time with his son, research expert Sam Rainer. The book is based on a study of one-thousand so-called “church dropouts” who were interviewed about why they left. Their answers are quite surprising, having less to do with “losing their religion” and more about the desire for a community that isn’t made stale by simply maintaining the status quo. In turn, the Rainers offer churches four concrete solutions toward making their worship community an essential part these young people’s lives again:

  • Simplify – develop a clear structure and process for making disciples.
  • Deepen – provide strong biblical teaching and preaching.
  • Expect – let members know the need for commitment to the congregation.
  • Multiply – emphasize evangelism, outward focus, and starting new churches.

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9780805443929 • 260 pages • Hardcover
Thom Rainer & Sam Rainer
B&H Publishing Group

Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples

The simple revolution is here. From the design of Apple products to Google’s uncluttered homepage, simple ideas are changing the world. Now in paperback, multi-awarded #1 national bestseller Simple Church guides Christians back to the simple gospel-sharing methods of Jesus. No bells or whistles required. With insights based on case studies of four hundred American churches, Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger prove the disciple-making process is often too complex. Simple churches thrive by taking four ideas to heart: Clarity. Movement. Alignment. Focus. Simple Church examines each idea, clearly showing why it is time to simplify. This updated trade paper edition includes a new chapter with further insights the authors have gained through hundreds of conversations with church leaders since this landmark book’s original release.

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9780805447996 • 288 pages • Paperback
Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger
B&H Publishing Group

The Unexpected Journey

This book is dangerous. If you read it, you’ll see that God is still active in saving even the most unexpected people: An atheist woman who viewed Christians as “idiots.” A married couple high in the leadership ranks of the Mormon church. An African-American man who became a Black Muslim out of hatred for white Christians. You’ll be amazed, moved, and encouraged as you read their compelling stories and the stories of nine others who made The Unexpected Journey from non-Christian beliefs to faith in Jesus Christ. You’ll rediscover the power of the gospel. You might even be emboldened to tell others about Christ yourself.


9780310257417 • 208 pages • Hardcover
Thom Rainer

Breakout Churches: Discover How to Make the Leap

In search of answers, Thom Rainer and his research team conducted a landmark study on the church. Unfolding the findings of that study, Breakout Churches furnishes both principles and examples to show how you as a pastor or church leader can help your church break out of the status quo into unprecedented fruitfulness. Of the thousands of churches examined in the study, thirteen met the criteria for a “breakout church.” All of them experienced both a period of struggle and a time of sustained breakout growth under the same pastor’s leadership. Transitioning from mediocrity to excellence over several years, they grew to have an impact on the entire community.


9780310293477 • 260 pages • Paperback
Thom Rainer

The Unchurched Next Door: Understanding Faith Stages as Keys to Sharing Your Faith

In a national survey conducted by author Thom Rainer and his staff, eight out of ten unchurched men and women said they would come to church—if only someone would invite them. When and how is the next big question. Rainer helps you figure out where your neighbors, friends, and coworkers are in their spiritual quest, and how you can know who among the unchurched people in your life are receptive to Christ. In this fascinating book, Rainer identifies five “faith stages” that represent your running buddy, your sister-in-law, or your hairdresser. “A discovery we made is that reaching lost and unchurched people is not always best accomplished with some cookie-cutter strategy,” Rainer writes. “The unchurched are different in how they respond to the gospel.” How different? You will be amazed at the variables that exist when it comes to how open people are to the Christian message. Open this book, and open your mind and heart to the powerful new possibilities of reaching The Unchurched Next Door.


9780310286127 • 270 pages • Paperback
Thom Rainer

Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them

A first-of-its-kind comprehensive study of the formerly unchurched explodes some common myths as to what it takes to reach people and provides insight into how the Christian church can develop effective approaches to reach the growing number of unchurched in North America. This eye-opening compendium of information includes reproducible appendices that can help you fine-tune or even restructure your church. From one of the nations foremost authorities on evangelism and church growth, here are insights and tools that will change the way you think of and deal with–and win–unchurched men and women who long to connect with God.


9780310305309 • 288 pages • Paperback
Thom Rainer

The Challenge of the Great Commission

We, too, are expected to do the work of the Great Commission—taking the gospel to the world, baptizing believers, and teaching them to obey God. Yet, the majority of North American churches are plateaued in growth, with little commitment to reaching their neighbors or the world. In this series of practical essays, faculty and staff members of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary challenge churches to re-focus their attention on the Great Commission.

9780974230610 • Thom Rainer & Chuck Lawless • Pinnacle Publishers

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High Expectation Churches

For over a quarter of a century the problem of losing church members has progressively increased. Today the situation is so bad that less than one-third of the members in some churches attend worship services. Church leaders are crying for help. Using the data gathered from this project, Thom Rainer looks at why people are leaving the church and how church leaders can keep the members.

9781433671890 • Thom Rainer • B&H Publishers

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The Everychurch Guide to Growth

A growing church is a living church, but much of the attention in church growth today is focused on making big churches bigger. This encouraging new book shows members of small and medium-sized congregations how to revive and expand their ministries as well. Churches of every size tend to plateau in attendance and never get out of their self-imposed limitations or ‘growth barriers’.

9780805401929 • Thom Rainer, C. Peter Wagner & Elmer Towns • B&H Publishing Group

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The Bridger Generation

The Bridger Generation is the first comprehensive study of the new generation, 72 million strong, born between 1977 and 1994. These are ‘the Bridgers’–the first generation to come of age in the twenty-first century, bridging the gap between two centuries and two millennia. Rainer’s in-depth analysis explores and explains revealing data, facts, and trends about tomorrow’s leaders and how best to present them with the gospel of Jesus.

9780805443813 • Thom Rainer • B&H Publishing Group

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Effective Evangelistic Churches

Part research project, part detective story, this book presents results from the most comprehensive study of successful churches in history. These 586 churches across America all excel in winning new souls for Christ, and have a remarkable range of things in common. Some stereotypes are shattered, some results are astonishing, and everything is written in a readable, non-technical style.

9781433669606 • Thom Rainer • B&H Publishing Group

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Giant Awakenings

With all the attention non-traditional churches have received, Thom Rainer reminds us that most churches in America today are still based on traditional models. He sees not only their survival, but possibilities for their profound renewal and revival.

9780805461732 • Thom Rainer • B&H Publishing Group

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Eating the Elephant

Many church leaders have attempted the “latest” approach to growing a church, only to find the methodology is ineffective and the church members are divided. This book shows that a church can change and grow if you move at a pace that fits the church’s situation, if you eat the elephant one bite at a time.

9780974230603 • Thom Rainer & Chuck Lawless • Pinnacle Publishers

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The Book of Church Growth

The Church Growth Movement has divided devout Christians. Even though Rainer is an advocate, his aim here is to present an objective view of the movement–its history, the theology associated with it, and the principles which seem to separate churches that grow from those that don’t.

9780805418729 • Thom Rainer • B&H Publishing Group

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A Practical Encyclopedia of Evangelism and Church Growth

9780830718573 • Thom Rainer & Elmer Towns • Regal Books

Biblical Affirmations for Evangelism

9780890662847 • Thom Rainer • Worldwide Publishers

Experiencing Personal Revival

9781570520570 • Thom Rainer & Michael Silva • Church Growth Institute

Evangelism in the Twenty-first Century

9780877882381 • Thom Rainer • Shaw