Five Reasons My Family Loves (Really!) Ministry Together

Sam Rainer

December 24, 2017


Merry Christmas from the Rainer clan!

I don’t blog much about my family, but I want to brag about them for Christmas. They deserve it, even if my wife will never see these words since she checks out my posts once every couple of years.

My family loves (really!) ministry, especially through the local church. Shepherding my family and my church are intertwined. Some might advocate separating the two, but it’s impossible, since my household is part of the local church. When I leave the church office every day, I come home to church members. The call to pastor a church is not an individual decision, but rather collective determination by a family. One of my best mentors taught a seminary class. I’ll never forget his adamant words: “If your wife ain’t called, you ain’t called.” A couple of students chuckled at his lack of academic polish. They were fools.

The five of us will soon be six. Another one is on the way, but my wife is not pregnant. We’re in the process of becoming foster parents. Our community is the epicenter of the nation’s opioid epidemic. Our morgues are full—no place to put bodies. The foster care system is full of infants with no one to take them. The call to shepherd a church is a call to shepherd the community. Don’t call yourself a pastor if you’re not willing to dive into the community’s worst problems and help. If the only place you minister is on the platform, then you’re not a shepherd. The decision to minister to our community affects my family. We’ll soon have another baby in our home. My wife and kids are excited.

I’m thrilled to minister to the bride of Christ with my bride and family. I love my wife. I love my kids. The smallest one causes the most damage. God gave me two princesses and a wrecking ball. We’re in this thing together, and here’s why I am grateful.

My wife and kids love the church. No shoes? No problem. My little ones are quick to kick the flops and run around barefooted in the church. Our children’s ministry builds a culture of training and equipping kids for ministry. All three love it. My wife is right at home in our worship ministry and women’s ministry. She led worship during an interim search period—not out of obligation but out of joy. She didn’t get paid, and she didn’t care.

My church loves my family. We’ve experienced the worst of what a church can do. My wife and oldest daughter were deeply wounded by a previous church, so we’re grateful to have a church now that demonstrates the best of what a congregation can do. God moved us from horror to delight, and we know what we’ve got with West Bradenton—an amazing body of people with a genuine love for my family. There are men in my church who would sacrifice their lives for my wife and children. Their commitment is not hollow, no lip service. They would take a bullet for me because they believe, not in me, but in the cross.

Ministry compels us to sacrifice. The local church is the front line of ministry. In the battle against the spiritual forces of evil, the church is the trench. Christ’s bride is dug in, charged up, and ready to die for the freedom of souls. I relish the trench. It’s messy, at times gruesome, and the noise makes it difficult to sleep. While there is no beauty in warfare (spiritual or otherwise), the battling bride is a gorgeous organism. Despite the muck, despite the damage, and despite the fight, she remains pure, white, and righteous. She belongs to Christ. She combats for Christ. She never stops engaging in the mission of reclaiming captives of darkness. I’ve been nose-to-nose with evil, wondering whether my wife and children will live or die. I will give my all. I will die fighting in the trench—for the unborn person, for the immigrant, for the widow, for my neighbors, and for every tongue, tribe, and nation.

The legacy of my family must continue. My grandfather fought for civil rights in Alabama in the 1960s. He rescued sons from alcoholic fathers. My father has a national ministry but sacrifices to great degrees for the local church and really doesn’t want the details of his sacrifice known. My mother gave up a career for ministry. My wife has done the same. Her grandfather toiled in obscurity among the rolling fields of Kentucky farms, pastoring in poverty without any glory or recognition. My last name is important to me, but only because those who went before me cared only about the name of Jesus.

Ministry is fun. Most days are filled with laughter and fist bumps. My family is happy. My church is happy. We have fun. After walking through a dark valley in ministry, God brought us to the place of royal palms, sunshine, sand, and Mickey Mouse. I shepherd in paradise. Granted, if you scratch the surface of sunshine, you’ll find a bizzaro land of Florida crazies who need Jesus. It can be dark here, sure, but it’s also a lot of fun and certainly never boring. My family fits right in.

I want to die here: old, leathered, scarred, and exhausted. I can’t imagine approaching the throne of God unless I’m ready to collapse into the arms of Jesus. My family will help me limp to the finish line.


6 comments on “Five Reasons My Family Loves (Really!) Ministry Together”

  1. ANNIE says:

    WBBC appreciates you and your family so very much. We need you guys in our trenches working for Christ and are so thankful all of you blessed our church with your guidance. Thank you for always praying for us when we are in need and being an answer to an email question thanklessly.

    1. Sam Rainer says:

      Thank you! Merry Christmas!

  2. Roberta Jones says:

    I enjoyed the happy and helpful article, about your family ministering together. And, the picture is a treasure. (Love the nature scene background!) I miss all of you in our neck-of-the-woods. Yet, I’m truly grateful for your good life in Florida. Your writing is relevant and useful, in my volunteer work. Thanks!

    1. Sam Rainer says:

      We love Florida this time of year. It’s cold up north! And there are many great nature spots in Florida. We try to get the kids out as much as we can. Miss you too!

  3. Joanne Seabrooke says:

    I enjoy your your writings especially re your Family, WBBC Family, and Ministry Needs in Manatee Co. (Manatee Co. includes your shared enjoyment of our beaches and nature!)
    I am touched by your families desire to serve via the Foster Care Ministry. There seems to be a growing need for caring, loving, Christians to step up and serve this with these “throw away” children. May God bless you generously in this service.
    I share your comments re three children. I began with a ‘keeper son”. He studied. Worked hard. A real pleaser. Next our princess. Loyal. Quiet. Enjoyed dolls and church friends. Then Joel: Everyone needs at least one destroyer. Possibly dyslectic. Fourth Degree Black belt. He became, quite naturally, an Army Ranger. He taught hand-to-hand combat to Forces. Traveled with our Army’s (recruiting tool) hand-to-hand combat exhibition team.
    I miss him so! Like many, losses he remembered vividly was too much. Misplaced guilt is a real destroyer. PTSD had not yet been diagnosed. In an accident, he went to meet his Lord when he was 44, in 2003. Many WBBC friends drove 200 miles to north Florida to support us in that time of need. Yes, they will have your back.
    Each of the three accepted Christ as their personal Savior when they “came of age,” secure in their faith, belief and understanding. Pastor T.E. Robinett baptized each in WBBC’s baptistry. What a three-time joy they have been!
    Hang on to your children, and give your wrecking ball bunches of Love and PATIENCE!
    God bless you in your journey.

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