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FROM THE SEMINARIES: Rainer to teach at Southeastern part-time; NASA astronaut speaks at Southern

Thom Rainer to teach at Southeastern part-time

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) — Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has announced that Thom Rainer, outgoing president of Lifeway Christian Resources, will join the faculty as part-time distinguished professor of church revitalization and leadership in January.

SEBTS President Danny Akin said in a news release, “Students will have the incredible opportunity to sit under the instruction of one of the most gifted and innovative minds in the evangelical world. This is a great day for SEBTS.”

Rainer’s position at SEBTS will include teaching in the doctoral program and developing graduate-level courses in church revitalization.

Rainer, 63, told LifeWay trustees Aug. 27 he intends to retire when a new president is named or in August 2019, whichever comes first.

He also has launched the nonprofit Revitalize Network to provide networking, consultation and resources for leaders of churches needing revitalization, working in partnership with LifeWay, the North American Mission Board, California Baptist University and Brentwood Baptist Church in metro Nashville.

Rainer has served as LifeWay’s president for 13 years, leading the SBC entity to Bible study curriculum growth for five consecutive years, creation of LifeWay Research and the B&H Academic book division; and relocation of LifeWay’s offices to a new facility in downtown Nashville.

He has authored more than two dozen books, including “I Am a Church Member,” “I Will: Nine Traits of an Outwardly Focused Christian,” “Becoming a Welcoming Church,” “Autopsy of a Deceased Church” and “Eating the Elephant: Bite-Sized Steps to Achieve Long-Term Growth in Your Church.”

He is on the web at ThomRainer.com and engages in two podcasts, “Rainer on Leadership” and “Revitalize & Replant with Thom Rainer.”

Rainer holds master of divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he served as dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth and professor of evangelism and church growth from 1994-2004. During this time, he established and operated as president and CEO of the Rainer Group, a denominational consulting firm, from 1990-2005.

Rainer, in the news release, said, “I pray God will use us to be his instrument toward moving congregations to greater health,” while Akin said Rainer’s new affiliation with Southeastern is “an unbelievable gift to our school.”


NASA astronaut at SBTS: View from space confirms God’s glory

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Viewing the world from space can shape an eternal perspective, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams said at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Night of Valor, an annual event in honor of veterans sponsored by the seminary’s Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization.

Williams, at one time the record holder for most cumulative days in space, previously visited Southern Seminary in October 2013. In August 2016, he spoke from the International Space Station with Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. during a chapel service.

At this year’s Nov. 12 Night of Valor, Williams shared pictures from his numerous trips around the earth along with passages of Scripture to depict the awe-inspiring outpouring of God’s grace in creation.

“The beauty, the harmony that we see here — the visually pleasing order that we see — give testimony to the Creator behind it,” Williams said. “Order is something that we take for granted. We don’t always think about it, but it’s a critical element in the design of God’s creation that enables us to do everything we do in life.”

Order is especially critical to life inside the International Space Station, where everything has to be tied down or Velcroed to the wall. Williams said even an afternoon cup of hot tea must be consumed from a bag through a straw.

Williams has spent more than 530 days in space. During that time, he has captured numerous photos of Earth from orbit through the 800-millimeter lens of his camera, including the entire Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef and a volcano during an eruption. Experiences like these have reminded him that God has filled the world with beautiful things and has given humans the ability to discover and appreciate them.

“When we acknowledge the provision of God by grace that He gives in our lives, things like this come to us every day,” Williams, who served as an Army colonel, said. “They’re there for each and every one of us if we only look for them and acknowledge them, and acknowledge the giver from whom they come.”

Quoting from Psalms and Job, Williams said it is a good thing for mankind to take dominion over this world and that the order God’s image bearers bring to this planet complements the order God established. Ultimately, that order honors Him, Williams said.

Williams ended his presentation with a time-lapse video of clips from flying over the earth to capture an idea of “the spectacular awe and wonder that’s involved when you orbit the earth and see this incredible … portion of God’s creation that is our home.”

“It’s habitable,” he said, “and we inhabit it by God’s grace.”

    About the Author

  • SBC Seminary & BP Staff

    Cassity Potter writes for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press, the SBC’s news service; Alex Sibley writes for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and S. Craig Sanders writes for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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