Thom Rainer, the president of LifeWay Christian Resources, says he is resisting the urge to stay on the job and plans to retire in the coming year.
Rainer, 63, announced his intentions to LifeWay’s executive leadership team on Monday. He said the announcement came with tears.
“You see, I really love LifeWay and the people who serve here,” Rainer wrote on his webpage. “They are absolutely incredible men and women who serve the Lord with joy and hard work. My 13 years at LifeWay have been blessed for many reasons, not the least of which are the 5,000+ employees who work here.”
Rainer said he will serve until a new president is named or through the end of August 2019, whichever comes first.
Rainer wrote that he was tempted to stay on but did not think that would be best for LifeWay.
“Frankly, I found myself rationalizing how I could stay for many more years. In fact, others have told me I am leading better than ever, that I should consider staying. I, however, can feel the temptations of hanging on for my own sake, for my own pleasure. LifeWay cannot and must not be my identity. I have always advocated for leaders to know when it’s time to depart, and to act upon it. I must practice what I preach. It is time to pass the baton of leadership to a new generation.”
Rainer’s retirement plans include spending more time with his wife, children and grandchildren.
And he plans to work on revitalizing churches worldwide.
“I love the local church, with all of its imperfections and idiosyncratic ways. I want to give every minute God allows me to make a difference to see churches revitalized. I will begin a nonprofit organization called Revitalize Network for this purpose. I have a vision to see tens of thousands of churches working together joyfully to grow in greater health and numbers. It is my passion. It is my dream. Above all, it is my prayer.”
He also has plans to continue operating his website, ThomRainer.com, that reaches more than 10 million viewers annually. His two podcasts “Rainer on Leadership” and “Revitalize & Replant with Thom Rainer” have a combined total of 1.5 million downloads.
Speaking on behalf of LifeWay’s board of trustees, board chair Jimmy Scroggins said: “We are deeply grateful for the work Dr. Rainer and his staff have accomplished the past 13 years to support churches in their mission of making disciples and providing biblical solutions for life.
“Dr. Rainer has strategically led through times of economic uncertainty, the digital revolution, changing church practices, and tumultuous shifts in culture,” Scroggins said. “His foresight and ability to lead change has well prepared LifeWay for the future as the organization continues to impact and influence the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
LifeWay is one of the world’s largest providers of Christian products and services, including Bibles, books, Bible studies, music, church supplies, events. Established in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1891, the company owns and operates more than 170 LifeWay Christian Stores throughout the United States as well as Ridgecrest Christian Conference Center in North Carolina.