Review of Shannon O’Dell’s Transforming Church in Rural America

When you think of rural America, what do you think of? Endless miles of farms? Small towns whose glory days were 50 to 100 years ago? Boredom? The last place on earth a pastor would want to be? Shannon O’Dell reminds us that God thinks highly, very highly of rural and small town America because His mercy and forgiveness extends to it as well as urban and suburban America. In fact, O’Dell, with great passion and joy, reminds readers of this book that rural America is a mission field that needs pastors and congregations engaged in helping people come to Christ and grow in their relationship with Him. Published by New Leaf Press, Transforming Church in Rural America is the story of a pastor’s passionate efforts to bring new life in Christ and new life to a rural church and community. Efforts that document the often painful challenges of turning a church in the right direction as well as the joy and excitement of seeing people encounter the powerful grace and forgiveness of God through Christ. Efforts that are also 3-D. 3-D as in using technology to reach people via satellite, the Internet, and through multi-site efforts. As a small town pastor, I value Shannon’s insights and passion for helping people come to faith in Christ and then finding their place in ministry. Of help and challenge, was chapter 6, Leadership: Resisting the Urge to Settle. It challenged me to not give up and settle for less than what God desires for me and the congregation I serve. It also served notice to help me see those in the pews as potential leaders who understand the ministry setting. (However, I think that bringing someone “in” to a rural/small town setting also provides some vital new perspective to a staff and congregation.) I also valued his take on an effective structure because it is vital to helping a congregation be more effective without being hung up in its decision making process. (Simplifying it will be very beneficial.) A book that stirred me and reminded me of some very important things, Transforming Church in Rural America, is a book that reminds us God is still reaching out to those in rural and small town America and that the church is still active in and to that environment. New Leaf Press, the publisher of Transforming Church in Rural America, is offering a one of every ten people who comment to this review post a free copy of the book!  Just comment and complete this form to qualify after you leave a comment. For more information and resources that O’Dell mentions in his book, go tohttp://www.nlpg.com/bnc (Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from New Leaf Press in exchange for reviewing it and posting it to my blog.  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.”)

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