In his book Transforming Church in Rural America, Shannon O'Dell gives a glimpse of life as a rural pastor. He began his pastoral duties in a large church, but after several years, felt God calling him to a small rural church. When he arrived, things were very different than his past experiences. However, he felt called to stay. This book is the story of his journey with Brand New Church.
But the book is more than a personal biography. O'Dell also gives insight into his beliefs regarding leadership and church growth. He says leaders are people who do not settle. They are always striving for more, looking for potential. And above all, leaders have vision that they can share with others, and make others believe in the vision too. O'Dell says all leaders must deal with the cycle of change, conflict, and growth. He shares personal stories about the beginning days in his church when he had the vision, but needed changes to see that vision come about. When proposing changes, he struggled with conflict within the church. However, moving forward led to growth. As of today, Brand New Church has multiple sites and delivers its message to most of the world via satellite and internet.
O'Dell gives rural churches biblical advice, as well as advice from his own experiences. His purpose in this book is to show churches that it is not about the number of people in the congregation, but it is about growing congregants. There are members in every church ready to step up when they have a leader with vision.
Overall, the book is an easy read, with many personal stories and humorous quips. It is geared more toward pastors and leaders in the church, but any member of the congregation could benefit from the information in this book. I think it would offer people from differing backgrounds a good glimpse of life in a rural church setting.
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.”