At first, I was skeptical. How could anyone understand rural America if he didn't grow up in rural America? In fact, the blurbs about it didn't sound very interesting, either. However, the subject is dear to my heart so I ordered it. You can check it out at Brand New Church.
As I read this book, I kept thinking, “This is exactly the kind of church I want to belong to!” Pastor Shannon O'Dell is the Paul of the 21st Century. He recognizes exactly how God gives talents and gifts and then as a pastor, he taps into those talents and gifts just as God intended.
This should be required reading for every seminary student whether a pastoral student or not, and for every church leader in the world. Especially, for rural pastors. It is high time rural pastors double check to make sure they are called by God and not on some resume building mission.
One thing that stands out is churches are the human hearts not brick and mortar. No one can change a heart, only Jesus can. With the Holy Spirit at work within God's people lives (and hearts) can be transformed therefore churches are transformed. Jesus pointed out that man's traditions were strangling the people, and putting a millstone around their necks which was impossible to throw off. Our traditions have become the same thing for the most part. Becoming radical for Jesus means shaking off the chains of traditions while embracing Biblical principles in every aspect of life both at church and during the week. O'Dell does a great job in shining a light on things that work for a metamorphosed church that is reaching the lost and is pleasing to God.
There are many interactive links to the Brand New Church's Web site and to Pastor O'Dell's blog. Check those out to expand your learning experience.