Transforming Church in Rural America

by Shannon O’Dell. New Leaf Press, 2010.

Before serving as a rural pastor, Shannon O’Dell believed several of the common negative comments about rural congregation: insignificant ministry, unskilled pastors, and a dead-end street for pastors. Yet before long, O’Dell rejects the rules, and here he shares the story of how his once-stagnant congregation became alive and well and full of growth. Ultimately, the congregation embraced five goals: “Vision, Attitude, Leadership, Understanding, and Enduring Excellence” or “V.A.L.U.E.” O’Dell discusses each of the goals in the middle section of the book. He also relays some of his faith story and looks to the future of rural congregations and ministry. An appendix offers internet addresses for thirteen videos that accompany the book. O’Dell’s affection, enthusiasm, and hope for rural communities and the congregations that reside in them is strong. His user-friendly and inspiring work is most appropriate for Christians, including those in urban settings.