Ever tempted to think “we’re just a country church of 30 souls, we’ll never grow much larger”? Or you’ve thought, “There’s no way we will ever see our church at 3,000 people.” Don’t tell that to Shannon O’Dell, senior pastor of Brand New Church in the small, rural church of Bergman, AR. O’Dell tells about his experience of raising up a church of 30 to 3,000 over just six years in Transforming Church in Rural America: Breaking All the Rurals (New Leaf Press, 2010). He talks about “the rules” about the rurals — “the unspoken but clearly understood values that permeate American Christianity’s beliefs about churches in the boonies.” Bottom line, he says, is “forget the rules.”
Church Executive shared some questions with Pastor O’Dell:
Describe the area in which the church is located; what is “rural” about the area? Bergman, AR, population 407, just got a Dollar General! There are no major employers in this town, but a great school and wonderful people. The Klu Klux Klan is headquartered just a few miles from our campus, but has no impact on slowing down the love of God to every race in our community.
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