In his book, Transforming Church in Rural America, Shannon O’Dell explains how he converted a tiny rural Arkansas church into a multi-site campus with added virtual followers from all over the world. O’Dell turned down several great positions at large urban churches to work at a poor church in the boonies. While his good intentions were often met with resistance, O’Dell continued and formed Brand New Church.
This book is geared towards helping rural pastors overcome the struggles of ministering to small churches. He explains the five most important “V.A.L.U.E’s” needed for a successful church: vision, attitude, leadership, understanding, and enduring excellence. For O’Dell, vision is the most important. Without a vision, growth is not possible because congregates are not willing to wholeheartedly contribute without direction.
Transforming Church in Rural America is motivational for pastors or average people with a project of their own. O’Dell’s advice can easily be applied to other situations. For example, O’Dell advises readers to realize they can do the impossible. “We do what seems logical,” O’Dell writes, “things the Church can do in its own strength, things in our comfort zones” (64). However, visions should be larger. They should require much prayer to be possible.
In addition to his wise message, O’Dell interweaves telling anecdotes that reveal the personalities found in some rural churches. He explains the stress he underwent as board members refused to fill a sandbox for children. And, the massive hatred he experienced because he proposed that the church pews be replaced with more efficient seating. Trivial things such as these honestly brought O’Dell to tears.
Overall, O’Dell’s book is a great motivational read. I highly recommend this book to others whether they are pastors or not.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”