Sam Rainer: Shortage of pastors looms for the established church

Sam Rainer, pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church in Bradenton.Do you like to solve riddles and play brain games? Try this one on for size: How will the 400,000 or so established churches in the United States—most of which have boomer-aged pastors or older—find their next leaders when their current ones start retiring in five to 10 years?

If you’re stuck, you’re not alone.

And if you have the answer, let Sam Rainer know. The pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church and I recently spent some time together for an upcoming installment in the Florida Baptist Witness' interview series called “Behind the Pulpit.”

We spent a fair amount of time talking about the established church, which is where Pastor Sam feels called to preach and prepare for the future.

“I’m very concerned that we don’t have enough leaders and training to inherit some of these [established] churches,” says Pastor Sam. “I don’t see a whole lot of Gen X, millennials and Gen Z now being trained up to lead those churches.”

But he hasn’t given up hope.

“I always want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” he says. “So hopefully with a podcast and a blog and a little bit of training that I can do just here at my own local church [we can help] train up future established church leaders.”

For a link to the podcast, of which he’s a part, go here: His blog can be found here:

This is part three of my conversation with Pastor Sam. On April 5th, we talked about how pastors should be intentional in how they build their reputations: On April 10th, we talked about ways to control the narrative when it comes to the perception people have of your church:

I’ll be posting at least one more piece of content in this space between now and the April 27th release of our May print edition, which will include an edited version of our entire conversation.

A video of our conversation also will appear on later this month. You can go now to the Witness’ YouTube channel at and watch videos of Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola; Willy Rice, pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater; Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church outside of Tampa; and, Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

Kevin Bumgarner is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, the official news source of the Florida Baptist State Convention. He can be reached via email at, and followed on Twitter @FBW_editor

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