I've recently had the opportunity to connect with a fellow small town church advocate, Pastor Shannon O'Dell, of Brand New Church in the thriving metropolis of Harrison, Arkansas.
Under Shannon's leadership the congregation has grown from 31 attendees to a multi-campus church, reaching thousands.
I was delighted to receive a free copy of his new book, Transforming Church in Rural America via Booksneeze, and read the whole thing in two days.
As one who connects with a lot of rural pastors every year through my speaking and writing, I'm always on the lookout for good resources for them.
There aren't very many. Most conferences, magazine articles and ministry books are geared to the suburban minister and the megachurch mentality.
Books about small town and rural ministry are quite rare, and often depressing. Authors tend to pity to pastor who serves in a small place. We pastors in small communities don't want to be pitied -- we want to be challenged!
In this book, O'Dell breaks the mold and challenges us!
Although readily admitting the hardship that comes with bringing congregational renewal, he radiates optimism and hope for the rural church in America.
I love his candid stories from the front lines -- and would love to swap tales with him, when we get a chance to meet face to face.
His book outlines their five key ministry goals: V.A.L.U.E.
The last section of the book describes how they established satellite campuses -- absolutely outside the box for rural ministry -- but it's working for them, and made me stop and ponder. . . what if. . .?