Every now and then something comes along from a source that would be less than a recommendation and something to avoid rather than actually being a blessing. When I first saw the title of this book I was intrigued. I discovered I did not know the author nor was I impressed by some of the names who recommended this book. By virtue of their name attached I normally would have simply passed on this book.
However, having a growing personal interest in rural America I decided to give it a chance, after all it was free. I only had to read it and write a review. I am glad I selected this book. After all, I can ignore the names of those who recommended this book and some of the methodology described and still find tremendous value. And that is what I did.
Transforming Church in Rural America is really not another book on methodology. Although, O’Dell describes much of what he did and is doing in his church located in a town with a population of 81. The value of Transforming Church in Rural America lies in the fact that it drives the reader to develop a vision for God and to trust God to direct him in that vision.
This book is very easy to read. It is not technical nor does it bog down at any point. This book keeps your attention as you eagerly turn each page to discover the problems and provision of God as O’Dell and his church submitted to God’s vision for their lives and church.
O’Dell takes the reader on a journey through ten chapters, two hundred pages concluding with an appendix exhorting and encouraging the reader to develop God’s vision. This book is unique in the sense that O’Dell includes website address for videos on certain issues contained within the book at various and strategic places. Through this journey the reader is transformed into a “cheer-leader” standing on the sidelines energetically urging the “team” onward to success and God’s glory. Of course, the disclaimer should be given that you shouldn’t try everything in this book at home. What worked in South Lead Hill, Arkansas may not work in Scappoose, Oregon or Deary, Idaho. But God is the same in South Lead Hill, Scappoose or Deary! People are the same – they are sinners who need the Lord’s salvation, forgiveness, and for someone to love and shepherd them.
The value of this book does not lie in all that Shannon O’Dell experienced, implemented, and developed. The value lies in the fact that O’Dell has a way of asking tough questions, bringing the reader face to face with himself and with God. This book comes from the heart of one who has been given the gift of pastor (shepherd) and is writing to those who have the same gift. Reading Transforming Church in Rural America will challenge any God gifted shepherd’s passion, values, vision, and commitment.
I agree with Geoff Surratt who stated that “Transforming Church in Rural America should be on the must read list of anyone who is serious about going into the highways and byways and compelling them to come in.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze program.