Return to ‘first love,’ Rainer pleads

Meredith Flynn —  January 14, 2014
Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources

Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources

THE BRIEFING | Posted by Meredith Flynn

Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, shared his “broken heart” over the denomination’s loss of passion for people who don’t know Christ.

In an open letter at, the leader of the convention’s publishing arm asked, “Where is the passion in most of our churches to reach the lost? Where is the passion among our leaders, both in our churches and in our denomination?

“Jesus told those at the church at Ephesus that they had sound doctrine, that they hated evil (Revelation 2:1-7). But He also told them they had lost their first love. When we truly love Jesus with all of our hearts, we can’t help but tell others about Him. We can’t help but share the good news.”

Rainer’s letter echoed the theme of a resolution passed by messengers to the November 2013 annual meeting of the Illinois Baptist State Association. The resolution on repentance and evangelism encouraged Illinois Baptists to repent of failure to share the Gospel regularly and faithfully, and to commit to do so.

As for Rainer’s letter, “I have no proposal. I have no new programs for now. I simply have a burden,” he wrote. And, he added, renewal must start with him. And with pastors.

“Evangelism must be as natural to me as breathing,” Rainer blogged.

“Pastors, will you join me in this plea? Will you be an evangelistic example for the churches God has called you to serve? Laypersons, will you pray for evangelistic hearts in your own lives? I must make that prayer a part of my life every day.

“Have we lost our first love? Is that love reflected in how we share the gospel of Christ every day?

“May God break me until I am all His, telling others about His Son every day.”

Read the full text of Rainer’s letter at

New podcast answers ethical questions
The Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission launched a new podcast series this week to address ethical and cultural questions submitted by listeners. Russell Moore, president of the ERLC, hosted the first episode January 13. The inaugural “Questions and Ethics” podcast focused on the question: When should you ask your potential spouse about their sexual history and how much should you know?

“‘Questions & Ethics’ allows us to answer the more difficult moral and ethical questions of our day in a short, accessible format,” said Dan Darling, ERLC’s vice president for communications, in a written release. “This podcast allows Dr. Moore to answer a variety of questions people are asking or should be asking.'” Read more at and listen to the first episode of “Questions and Ethics” at

Hobby Lobby gets its day in court
The U.S. Supreme Court has set a date for oral arguments in a case pitting craft retailer Hobby Lobby against the Department of Health and Human Services. The Christian Post reports the high court will hear from Hobby Lobby on March 25, as the craft retailer argues business owners should be able to exercise religious freedom by objecting to the abortion/contraceptive mandate in President Obama’s healthcare reform package. Hobby Lobby has been one of the businesses at the center of the dispute over the mandate, which requires employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health care plans.

“This legal challenge has always remained about one thing and one thing only: the right of our family businesses to live out our sincere and deeply held religious convictions as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution,” Hobby Lobby founder David Green said in a written release in November. “Business owners should not have to choose between violating their faith and violating the law.”


Pastors praying today for spiritual awakening

A group of Baptist pastors and leaders are meeting this week in Atlanta to pray together for revival and spiritual awakening. This is the second prayer meeting called by Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd. The gathering “is time for us to pray in an extraordinary way, to seek the God of heaven to revive His church and awaken our nation,” Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, told Baptist Press.

The meeting raises a question, says Illinois Baptist editor Eric Reed: What can believers do to bring spiritual awakening to a nation lulled to disinterest by its tolerance of sin? Read his feature story on the next great awakening in the current issue of the IB, and read more about the prayer meeting at

Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.