Transforming Church in Rural America

Transforming Church in Rural America is an awesome book written by Shannon O’Dell, a former youth pastor in Texas who took a huge step of faith to answer God’s call.  This is a book that challenges pastors and lay leaders to break all of what Shannon calls the rurals.  In this book you will learn how to generate growth through transformed lives, engage your community through active evangelism, enhance your worship experience, inspire volunteers, and transform your church.  This book is also accompanied by creative online videos that reveal significant factors in the development of Shannon’s church Brand New Church.

Discover the possibilities and value that lies within your church, and reach for a new horizon by reading Shannon’s book.  You will gain a clear and concise understanding to what V.A.L.U.E. truly is. 

The last part of the book description reads: “Experience the blueprint for transforming into effective, dynamic, and thriving churches – no matter where the location or how small it may be”  reading this book was exactly that, a life changing experience.  I don’t think I will ever look at ministry the same again.

Just reading this book made me want to go find the most countryfied hickville rural church I could find, and see if they would let me Pastor, but the Holy Spirit reminded me that He has me right where he wants me, and I am to implement some of these things right where I am serving NOW!  Now, is correct.  And if God is leading you to get this book, get it NOW!, go sacred cow tipping, and start experiencing transformed lives.

Message to Shannon: Dude, if you ever read this blog post I want you to know that God has done a wonderful work through you, this book, and Lead Hill/Bergman.  My wife’s family was some of the last members of Elixer Baptist Church, and I know how set in their ways Southside and Elixer was.  Only a miracle by the Grace of God could do what you and your team have done.  You are a true inspiration.  May God bless you for your endeavors, and may His kingdom be richly multiplied because of it.  I look forward to meeting you at the Transforming Church in Rural America Conference May 25th.

As part of my review I’m going to be giving away a FREE copy of Transforming Church In Rural America.  One out of every ten comments will win a copy.  Read carefully; here is how you get your FREE copy.  Take these three steps:

1. Leave a comment below. State that you would like a copy of this book in your own words of course and share why you would like one.

2. Fill out the form to enter HERE. New Leaf Publishing will send you a free copy if you win and they will need your address. Click this link and fill in your information, so New Leaf Publishing Group will know where to send your FREE copy in the mail.

3. Send a link to this post through Twitter or Facebook.  If you aren’t on either, just say so in the comments.   Use this status update:   Get a FREE Copy of @shannonodell’s new book, Transforming Church in Rural America, from @justinsrefuge at #TCIRA

If you win a copy of this book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it, and what steps you learned that you are planning on implementing.

Good Luck!!

Haiti 2010 Day 12

Day 12: Monday, March 22nd 2010

I said farewell to Haiti today.  I am very sad that more has not been done here.  In a lot of ways it is very sad.  I said goodbye to my team whom I developed some form of bond with each of them.  I also drove down the chaotic streets one last time.  I looked at the pain and sorrow in their eyes knowing that in the morning I will wake up in the comfort of my home, while they are still suffering.  95% of me is dying to get home, but out of it all that 5% of me that wanted to stay spoke the loudest.

“Dear Oh God, you are sovereign and magnificent.  Only you could create something so beautiful only to be destroyed by the sin of man.  May we find comfort in your arms knowing that this life is just a passing through.  I pray that you will bring spiritual renewal in our lands, and be the springboard that restores our countries.  Amen.”

Haiti is a land with much potential and opportunity if only it had the leadership to take it in the right direction.  “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” – John Maxwell

The trip home was rather tiring.  We went from Haiti to San Domingo Dominican Republic to San Juan Porto Rico on to Chicago IL USA.    It felt good to arrive back home, as we left the plane for the last time.  Arkansas never felt more like home.  It was extremely good to see my pastors face (Brandon Cox),  once we stepped out into the snowy arctic air where he had a van waiting for us.  I arrived at my home a little after midnight.  My bed is calling my name.

Sleep safely Haiti, knowing that there is a mighty God who knows your pains, and feels your hurt.



Recently Northwest Arkansas (NWA) was hit with one of the worst ice storms in its history.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen.  You couldn’t even walk outside without the fear of a tree or power line falling on you.  A Federal State of Emergency was issued Thursday January 29th 2009 by President Barack Obama declaring NWA a disaster area.  This storm devastated the area by destroying thousands of trees, causing millions of dollars worth of property damage, leaving over 200,000 homes without power for days, and it has even taken the lives of many residents.  With temperatures in the lower teens and windshields in the single digits, NWA became a treacherous ice trap.  Friday afternoon Governor Mike Beebe toured the area, and got a firsthand look at the ice storm damage.

“It’ll be tough for some for the next few days, but we’ll get through it. We’ll get through it together as Arkansans working together. We will solve this problem just like we solved other problems.” – Gov. Mike Beebe

My family was very fortunate because we were able to keep power throughout the whole storm, however many of our friends and relatives suffered and found themselves left in the dark frozen obscurity.   Even with power this storm has been extremely inconvenient leaving many confined to their homes, however in spite of it all we have kept our spirits high and have found comfort in God’s provision.  With disasters such as the 2009 Ice Storm the aftermath leaves you with a since of gratitude for the luxuries that God so graciously has provided to my family, Arkansas, and the United States.  Yesterday, my family and I decided to drive around and see how severe the damage truly was.  I am still burdened over the great loss that many of the NWA residents and businesses have incurred.  As I reflect upon these things it is a reminder that we should be there for one another.  Be praying for all those who were devastated by the storm.

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” – Matt. 22:39 (KJV)

Below are some pictures of the 2009 Ice Storm that will be left in our hearts for years to come.