In an article entitled, “Why I Am Retiring from LifeWay” Dr. Rainer explains his reasons for the move. He is leaving on his own terms, in his own time. Dr. Rainer has been a man of honor, integrity, and decency. There has never been a hint of any kind of scandal of any sort at LifeWay under his watch – though there was a constant drumbeat of criticism about editorial choices. I am guessing that comes with the job. Dr. Rainer’s term at the helm of LifeWay has been a success in every way. – the Gospel Project has been wildly successful and so has the recent CSB.
Dr. Rainer will be missed and will be hard to replace.
I’d like to share two stories that explain why I love and appreciate this man. There was a time when there was a swelling tide of criticism about some of the materials being sold at LifeWay stores. Of course, there are angry LifeWay critics who will never be satisfied. But I began to notice that reasonable and good-intentioned people were beginning to join the chorus of critics. I sent a lengthy email to Dr. Rainer explaining what I was hearing and detailing my belief that this was a real and growing issue. This was some time ago and this site was not seeing the kind of high traffic it sees now. He could have simply dismissed me and ignored me. But I received a gracious reply from Dr. Rainer thanking me for my words and responding in great detail. He explained what was going on and how they were addressing the concerns. There are people who bristle when criticized and who react defensively but Dr. Thom Rainer has not been one of them.
Well, he does react at times! We were at a meeting during the convention and I raised my hand and made a smart-aleck remark as a joke. Dr. Rainer threw a pen at me. Ed Stetzer thought it was a measured and reasonable response – possibly merciful (he seemed to think flogging might have been just). But Dr. Rainer has a great sense of humor, one that could even laugh (and throw pens) in response to someone like me. There was no self-importance or hubris with him.
Most importantly, he has been a man devoted to building Southern Baptist churches. His blog and his books have been a goldmine of information for pastors and churches. Practical and biblical.
I wish he would continue for a long time, but there is something refreshing about a man giving up his denominational job too early rather than holding on too long, and I believe that the SBC will continue to be well served by the ministry of Dr. Thom Rainer.
We now have four entities in the process of replacing their leaders. I cannot remember something quite like this.