Book Review: Transforming Church in Rural America

Transforming Church in Rural America
by Shannon O’Dell

(Note: This book was provided free for review by Shannon O’Dell and New Leaf Publishing. This did not affect my review in any way.)

I’m trying to get back onto a regular blogging schedule, and a book review is a place to start.

Shannon O’Dell is the Senior Pastor at Brand New Church in Bergman, Arkansas. Not exactly what most people would consider a place to find a growing, thriving church. But God grew an unexpected passion in Shannon for “Rural America” and grew Brand New Church to “2000 members with 5 campuses, 3 satellite house churches, 4 start-up/initiating remotes, and an online campus”.

Shannon made several statements throughout his book that I found worth highlighting on the page and on my blog. Here is a sample:

  • “When you desire to grow a congregation, you will never get it. But if you grow congregants, then you are going to see transformation in their lives and within the church.” (page 39)
  • “If you do not have defined vision for your church, the loudest member will define it for you.” (page 55)
  • “Leadership is resisting the urge to SETTLE.” (page 88)
  • “The minute you say it’s not relevant for every detail of your life, then the Bible becomes a fable and a fairy tale.” (page 130)
  • “[The early church] was a top-down structure that started with the authority of Christ, transferred by the Word of God, through pastors who mobilized and equipped servant-leaders, who matured to become pastors and mobilizers who did the same.” (page 132)
  • “Excellence does not cost a lot of money: it costs in time and vision.” (page 148)
  • “It doesn’t really matter what building you are in; your church can grow if it has vision, attitude, leadership, and understanding.” (page 151 – these characteristics are defined through the book)
  • “When you have a dream, people are always in the wings ready to destroy it. … The loudest boos usually come from those in the cheapest seats.” (pages 191, 195)

Even though it’s written primarily to encourage rural pastors and church leaders, every church member can learn from Shannon’s experience and help grow the church wherever they are.

You can get your copy from Amazon (and many others, I’m sure).

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