Thom Rainer: Evangelism and Church Growth in the Southern Baptist Convention

The speaker for the second session of this conference is Dr. Thom Rainer, President of Lifeway Christian Resources. Dr. Rainer will be speaking on the topics of evangelism and church growth. He is the author of a number of books on these topics (click here for his listings on

Why are we baptizing less today than in the past? Rainer gives five reasons:

Eschatology – denial of a literal hell, throughout church history those who have minimized this doctrine have led to their demise. Surveys show that an increasing number of churches deny a literal hell each year.

Ecclessiology – On a given Sunday only 7 million SBC church members attend each week, while we have 16 million members.

Sociology – We are more materially comfortable than in the past. This has made us more complacent with the state of the lost.

Responsibility – Over one half (53%) of SBC pastors admitted to not having evangelistic relationships with any lost person over the previous six months. Two-thirds of church members admit to not having witnessed in the past year. If only one person in each of our churches was evangelistic, and that one person saw one person come to Christ every two weeks. The number of baptisms in the SBC would triple to 1.2 million.

Humility – The problem is me! We are only effective when we yield our way to the filling of the Spirit. Evangelism is being so filled with the Spirit that one can not help sharing the gospel. We must rely upon the Holy Spirit. Having a humble ministry does not mean that we deny the Word, but that we live the Word. Not that we never disagree, but that we disagree with love. If a true evangelistic revival is to come, it must come from God and begin with me. Commit to spend more time in the Word and prayer, seek to serve rather than be served, recognizes own sinfulness more than the sinfulness than others, etc.

Dr. Rainer closes with a sincere call for repentance and humility.


  1. I believe he got one half right. Going and doing the great commision. Yet, what about the other half? Making sure that we are proclaiming the gospel correctly and doing what we can to make sure that conversions are real!

    “The number of baptisms in the SBC would triple to 1.2 million.”

    Did Dr. Rainer say specifically “baptisms” ? That is part of the problem right there. Ducken them without making sure that they are truly saved.

  2. I’m pretty sure that he said “baptims”, but I don’t assume that he means “Ducken them without making sure that they are truly saved.” In context of the entire talk, I did not have that impression.

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