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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.
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.
Pastor Shannon O’Dell’s 2010 book, Transforming Church in Rural America picks up this chestnut uncritically and applies it to our worst stereotypes of rural life with a vengeance.
Leaving behind a self-described “cushy” youth position at a megachurch in suburban Oklahoma City, O’Dell took a leap of faith to serve a small, family congregation in rural Arkansas. O’Dell tells his story at the beginning and end of the book. However, the bulk of the book is sandwiched in the middle: his V.A.L.U.E. formula for rural revival--a reflection on his core leadership principles. Sprinkled throughout are rants, disparagements, and defensive explanations aimed at readers from the original South Lead Hill congregation. He also throws in some marriage advice along the way. As O’Dell explains: “You must be dedicated to a red-hot marriage or your ministry will not survive” (91). Be ready for more zingers like this. Pastor O’Dell refers to his “red-hot marriage” eight times too many in this book, just as he speaks of his “hot wife” in his Amazon author profile.
Pastor O’Dell stumbles at a number of places. He has limited experience in small and/or rural congregations. I wonder if many of the struggles he faced in leading the South Lead Hill Baptist congregation had more to do with the dynamics of the size of the church and less to do with its rural location.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For years the whole world moved with technology while I sat on the sidelines. Everyone I knew had a smartphone. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jeff Lawson
Quite a few things just would not apply to a church of our size but there were a lot of great ideas to apply.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
an excellent resource for strengthening you church presence in a rural setting.Published 5 months ago by Peggy A. Williams
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 7 months ago by Joshua Hagan
Great read! Really defines where our focus needs to be as the church.Published 8 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 12 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 13 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 13 months ago by Larry Davis