As a church planter and pastor in a rural area, I’m always looking for resources that relate to our unique setting. Frankly, these are few and far between. Most of the resources are geared more toward an urban setting. While some principles are universal, the urban church and the rural church are, in many ways, totally different animals. When I saw the book Transforming Church in Rural America, I got my hands on it as soon as I could.
Shannon O’Dell, the author of Transforming Church in Rural America, is the pastor of Brand New Church, near Harrison, Arkansas. In the book, he shares his story of transforming a small rural church of 30 into a large rural church of more than 2000. He shares both the positives and negatives of his adventure of transformation. As I read the book, I connected with so much that he wrote about. He wrote about many of the unique problems of the rural church, such as strong family influence, limited resources, and the resistance to change. Not only did he share these problems as they presented themselves, but he also shared how his church overcame them and reached more of his area for Christ. I immediately recognized how his principles might help rural churches overcome many of the barriers they face and become more effective in their ministry.
I highly recommend this book, especially for those pastors struggling in rural church settings. If that’s you, in this book you will find a brother who’s right where you’re at, facing the same problems and circumstances. Not only has he struggled as you have, he’s also found solutions to move forward. You’ll find inspiration to move forward, too. You should get this book to see what really is possible for rural churches.
In 2009, I personally experienced Brand New Church when I attended a Sticks Conference there. Believe me, the church is definitely in a rural setting. Here’s a couple of pictures I took there.
You wind along an Arkansas state highway up and around some hills, and this beautiful building pops out of nowhere. There’s chicken houses across the road and a few barns, as well. Rural. But I was so impressed with the excellence of everything about Brand New Church. The volunteers were all people from the church and all were contagious. There is something holy and exciting going on there. Something you’ll see in the book Transforming Church in Rural America. Rural pastors, grab this book and start dreaming again.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from New Leaf Publishing for my review. 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 Commissionâ€™s 16 CFR, Part 255: â€œGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.â€