The Book Every Young Pastor in a Small Church Needs to Read

Transforming Church in Rural America by Shannon O’Dell is a must read for any young pastor leading a congregation in rural America!  I was deeply blessed by almost every page in this book and even a little humbled.  Having grown up in rural churches and having many friends who are pastoring rural churches I can testify that Shannon has hit the mark.  What you will find with this book is a no-nonsense, practical, count-the-cost design for much needed change in many of our rural churches.  Shannon knows from first hand experience the cost of bringing change and leading a dying church back to vibrant health and he has a story to tell.

Throughout Transforming Church in Rural America, Shannon tells the story of how he was called by God from being on staff at a large church to pastoring a small South Side Baptist Church in an 88 resident town in Arkansas.  Over the last six years God has blessed Shannon to be at the forefront of change in rural America to reach people with the gospel.  Today Shannon’s church, now renamed, Brand New Church reaches out to thousands of people each week through multiple campuses. Shannon’s passion to reach rural America at any cost is contagious.  Note this quote from the book…

As far as too many soldiers have shown us, it takes great personal sacrifice to willingly enter a conflict.  But if we are to fulfill our vision, we have no other choice.  It’s change, conflict, growth; change, conflict, growth; and you have to walk through that process.  It happens on a personal level every time we see someone freed from a massive addiction. The person makes a change, then there is a major conflict, but then there is unbelievable growth. It’s the same with church; we must go through change and then conflict in order to see growth. Nobody told me that before I went to rural America.  but it’s part of the game – one of the rules you will have to abide by play after play. When conflict comes most rural pastors give up on change. It’s just too hard. What can we do? We must be resolved to conflict in its many forms; we must pick our battles carefully, and we must choose which hills we are willing to die on- just as Jesus chose Golgotha. (page 81-82).

I highly recommend Transforming Church in Rural America.  In fact if you are considering a call to pastor a small church or a church in rural America, its a must read.  You won’t find this kind of transparency and passion for rural churches anywhere else. The retail price is $12.99 (hardcover), and is available around the web in places like for $10.39. I gave it four stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson as part of the BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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