Monday, October 11, 2010

Transforming Church in Rural America by Shannon O'Dell (review)

Transforming Church in Rural AmericaProduct Description

Small church buildings dotting the countryside are home to ministries that often struggle with limited attendance, no money, and little expectation that change can revitalize their future. In Transforming Church in Rural America, Pastor Shannon O'Dell shares a powerful vision of relevance, possibility, and excellence for these small churches, or for any ministry that is stuck in a rural state of mind. The book reveals: how to generate growth through transformed lives; ways to create active evangelism in your community; no-cost solutions for staffing challenges, enhancing the worship experience, and inspiring volunteers. Focusing on vision, attitude, leadership, and innovation, you can learn the practical strategies and biblical guidance that helped to grow a church of 31 into a multi-campus church of several thousand, with a national and global outreach. Discover effective structure and ways to cast God-given vision so others can follow and make an impact. Experience the blueprint for transforming into effective, dynamic, and thriving churches - no matter where the location or how small it may be. What Church Leaders are saying . . . I'm captivated by Shannon's story, challenged by his witness, and moved by his resolve. As I read, I found myself turning the pages quickly and anticipating what was coming next. Shannon sounds a clear call for leaders of the church in rural America - but the principles translate to any leader trying to move a congregation toward life change in communities of all sizes. This is a rare book . . . one that I'll be buying several copies of to hand out to encourage pastors every chance I get. Tim Stevens, Executive Pastor at Granger Community Church Shannon O'Dell's passions for the rural church in America is contagious. The vision to see the small church reach multitudes through partnerships with other churches is a move of God, and Transforming Church in Rural America, is right on the wave of God's plan. Craig Groeschel, Senior Pastor of The lies about churches in the boonies echo loudly throughout the landscape of our culture. And too often, leaders believe them thinking success is reserved for places with big populations and bigger budgets. But in Transforming Church in Rural America, Shannon O'Dell confronts some of the most powerful and prominent of these lies head on . . . No matter what size church you are a part of, this book will challenge your traditional thinking, force you to look beyond the status quo and enable you to grasp a bigger vision of what God has in store for you ministry and your leadership. Ed Young, Pastor, Fellowship Church

About the Author

Shannon O'Dell passionately seeks to inspire his growing multicampus church to give God only the very best. Innovative, inspiring, and committed to reaching out to struggling churches in rural areas around the country and the world, he has served as senior pastor for Brand New Church in the small community of Bergman, AR for over six years. He is a former youth pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, OK. He is married to wife Cindy, and the couple have four children.
My take on this book:
I was anxious to receive and read this book. I have lived all my life in rural America. I have always attended tiny community churches so I was anxious to read Mr. Odell's ideas on how to grow a rural church.
It only took me reading this book for a few pages to realize that while Mr. O'Dell has some good ideas, some of the ways that he gets his ideas across really didn't appeal to me. One thing in particular he mentioned on page 24 was aging out of youth ministry, I really didn't understand that statement at all. I don't really think there is an age limit when it comes to youth ministers, as long as the youth of the church are learning from the leadership of the youth minister to me it wouldn't matter the age.
Another area of the book that really was off putting to me was when he was discussing the little memorial plaques on the pews, and then went on to mention that there was even one of those memorial plaques on a seven dollar clock, my thinking was that perhaps the family that wanted a memorial to a loved on could only afford seven dollars for a clock. I honestly think it is great to grow a church and get new members but not at the expense of alienating or hurting the members you already have. I for one love attending my tiny church, I love that fact that everybody knows each other, and I love the history of those tiny memorial plaques attached to our pews, its the history of our church, the people who worshipped before us.
I always like to say something positive about every book I read, and for this book, I do believe that Mr. O'Dell is very passionate about what he is writing, and I feel he does want to make rural churches become more relevant. I also think that rural pastors may come away with a few ideas, but it would really depend on the church as to whether these ideas would work, and I would hope that pastors would try to build there churches in a way as to not alienate there members.
I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I enjoyed your review. I passed up this book because I thought it might be frustrating to be a member of a rural church and NOT to be in a position to put the ideas to work.

    Did he have any ideas that the average member could put into use or were they all directed toward pastors and the church leaders?

  2. Cynda, I really felt that the ideas were more for the leaders of the church, although I suppose a person could pass on a copy of the book to their pastor,and then discuss ways to implement them if you felt like they were a good fit. Thanks so much for dropping by my blog, I really appreciate it.

  3. I suspected as much. It would frustrate me to have ideas and not put them to use. Thanks for the review. I'm enjoying your blog. I'm currently reading Andy Stanley's The Grace of God and will post the review on Tuesday.


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