Transforming Church in Rural America is part autobiography, part advice, written to encourage and inspire pastors of churches in small towns. In the book, Shannon O’Dell tells of his calling to rural America and how God turned a struggling church into a multi-campus ministry with services also available via satellite and the internet. Using this story and the acrostic, VALUE, O’Dell provides principles for evangelism, discipleship, and mentoring to help pastors grow congregants who can in turn reach others for Christ.
My husband and I pastured a rural church before entering military ministry. Everything O’Dell says about the blessings and challenges of such a church is on target. He brought back a lot of memories for me. From that point of view, the book was fun to read.
But O’Dell’s ideas for reaching people in this setting are impressively innovative. Some of them concerned me a little, but every church, every minister is unique. I recommend this book to pastors of rural churches as a source of inspiration—a catalyst for fresh ideas. Yet I would encourage them to prayerfully consider how they can best integrate these ideas or others triggered through the book into their church’s own situation.
Thank you, Thomas Nelson Publishers, for sending this book for my review. It was an interesting and worthwhile read.