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Transforming Church in Rural America Paperback – February 15, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
As for me, I love rural churches. As much as I love my decidedly not rural church now, it's a comfortable fit whenever I return to the little Baptist church where our wedding was held and where I was baptized. That's why I was interested in reading this. I found myself nodding in affirmation at points and furrowing my brow in others.
I think this could be worth reading for nothing but his family-focused advice to those in ministry. He stresses the importance of marriage and of a family vision. The best line of the book was "...a red-hot marriage and a functional family is the most powerful evangelistic tool in rural America" (or anywhere, I would add). Other spots were solid too, and I plan to send this book to the pastor who married us as an encouragement to him.
I found three bothersome spots, though:
1. One section frustrated me so much that I had to put down the book and walk away for a bit. It was only page 24, and it may have affected my view of him through the rest of the book.Read more ›
I serve in a church under a pastor that is all about breaking all the stereotypes and "rules" that man has put on the rural church, so the breaking away from the "rurals," as Shannon calls it, has already been done here. In my situation, this re-affirms to me how to support his leadership and keep the rest of our volunteer lay-ministry staff on track.
Shannon doesn't merely teach you in this book how grow a big church in a small community. He doesn't give you step by step, "here's how you do exactly what we are doing." Those kind of books are on my bookshelf - unread. I've grown tired of those. Instead, Shannon shares how to hear from God, how to stick to His vision, how to pursue the vision, and how to maintain it.
This book will show you, not only through experience, but from scriptural examples as well, how to tranform a church in a rural community to leave the stale "we've done it this way before" model and move forward with a model of vision that sees that God has a plan for every community, every church, and ever person.
This book is not for the pastor who is too afraid to hear from God and move forward. This book is not for the lay ministers who are building their resumes serving under pastors like that. It is for visionaries and those who support a visionary.
Shannon O'Dell breaks this mold and writes about it in Transforming Church in Rural America: Breaking All the Rurals. Though doubtful at first, he left the staff of a large, established suburban church following the call of God to a small congregation in South Lead Hill Arkansas, population 88 (the city, not the church!).
Through the early chapters, O'Dell recounts, often humorously, the early challenges of ministering in a country church. Easily recognizable to any rural pastor, these people and experiences helped to fashion and establish his leadership and pastoral direction.
The central portion of the book is dedicated to the core V.A.L.U.E. that developed in Pastor O'Dell's philosophy of ministry. Vision - Attitude - Leadership - Understanding - Enduring Excellence. He closes the book with a challenge to other rural congregations to see beyond the limits that have been self-imposed over the years - to change their concept of success and the boundaries of it.
My first impression of this book was less than enthusiastic. As I began reading the story of his church's transformation, my cynicism began to grow. My thought was, "Great. Another book on how `bigger is better,' and how if you do it like we do it, you'll be a `success' as a church." As a rural pastor, I've heard enough such typical church growth tripe from conferences, lectures, books, etc. This mentality does not suit well with my personal philosophy of ministry.
Before I finished, my perception had changed completely.Read more ›
I was a member of his 'rural' church he tried to transform. Please believe me, that he did not TRANSFORM any church. He destroyed a rural Southern Baptist church, changed its name, and moved it to a community that was closer to a much larger town full of doctors and business owners. Half of his preachings were money, money, money, money to fund his new toys and new building. I read this book to try to understand his point of view, why he did what he did. And now I do.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Shannon shares his struggles and victories as a successful rural pastor. Sometimes as a rural pastor it is great reading a book from someone who knows what life is like for you... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Joshua Hagan
Great read! Really defines where our focus needs to be as the church.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I've been a part of planting massive outreach ministries in Los Angeles and I've sat in the middle row of the all but forgotten rural church. Read morePublished 6 months ago by John Andrews
Great book for those interested in the rural church of America. Shannon also shares his own personal story of changing the church. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Jon Noto
Too often church leaders are looking for a program or guaranteed strategy for growth. Shannon O'Dell instead delivers a hear the book that focuses on health. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Larry Davis
I read this book as I was transitioning into pastoring a small rural church. The author is so right on several levels. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Bryan T.
Being a pastor in rural KS I'm looking for resources on how to "do" ministry in an atmosphere where the local church has a long history, complete visibility, and near-total... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Kyle and Rachel Borg
Great book, easy read. With so many books and philosophies about planting churches in metropolitan areas it was time for a balanced God honoring book about planting in rural... Read morePublished 20 months ago by John