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Transforming Church in Rural America by Shannon O’Dell

May 28, 2010

Shannon O’Dell pastors Southside Baptist Church in South Lead Hill, Arkansas. Or at least he used to. Now he pastors Brand New Church. It is still in South Lead Hill. It is also in Bergman. It is also in several other places. He has turned a church of 31 into a multi-campus mega church, and he can show you can transform your church too. That is the message I suspected I would get. I was so sure O’Dell would come across as a Tony Robbins/Joel Osteen mix of slick salesman/slick preacher (defined loosely). I am so glad I was wrong!

The author does a really good job of describing what he did and how God has used him while stressing the bigger principles rather than the specific details. He understands that not all the details will work in all locations, but the principles will. He understands the unique needs and situations that arise in a rural setting.

I would highly recommend this book for any pastor or church leader, especially those in rural settings. I recommend it highly enough that I am about to loan my copy to a pastor I know who works in that setting. I pray he finds it both inspirational and practical. I did.

The author’s position is that building and growing a church in a rural area is different than in an urban or suburban area. What do you think? What do you think some of the differences are?

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