Title: Transforming a Church in Rural America
Author: Shannon O'Dell
Publisher: New Leaf Press
Published Date: Febrauary 15, 2011
I received a free copy of this book from Book Sneeze for my honest review.
Synopsis from Publishers Weekly:
O'Dell, a pastor, explains how he led a small rural Arkansas church from a handful of members to a multi-site church of thousands. A unique feature of the book is inclusion of photos and perky illustrations and rich graphics to move readers through important points. O'Dell's is a fresh, no-holds-barred voice in Christian nonfiction, and he makes the case for a strong connection between marriage and ministry: "Now this book is primarily about growing the rural church, and I feel that having a red-hot marriage and a functional family is an extremely important element of that." He advocates V.A.L.U.E.: vision, attitude, leadership, understanding, enduring excellence. For all the crisp selling and innovation in the book itself, it doesn't break all the rules. Instead, it uses some of the tired phrases found in many books on church growth; and, for all the good pictures and talk of transformation of lives, the majority of the photos are of buildings and illustrations for the pastor's sermons.
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As someone that lives in a small, rural area, I wanted to read more about what a church leader had to say about how to transform the church in these areas of America. There is the occasional larger church but for the most part, the community is made up of very small congregations.
I found the book to offer some good insight but I am not sure it would all be relevant to rural churches, as it seems the author has focused on bringing the mega church philosophy to rural areas and they often do not have the members or the money to instill programs that might be transforming. I thought the idea of transforming those that haven't hear the gospel is great, however, I am a little put off that he didn't recommend starting with the "ten families that have been there forever." It seems a transformation of those members already in the congregation could only produce growth and bring about a way to engage those that hadn't heard the gospel and get them involved in church. Overall, the book was just mediocre due to a few items such as what I have listed here.