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Leadership, Leadership, Start Here
In his book Transforming Church in Rural America, Shannon O’Dell shares his heart and passion for small-town America’s thousands of churches, and the pastors who lead them. Shannon shares a powerful vision of relevance, possibility, and excellence for small churches across the country, and it’s a great read if you find yourself pastoring a small church in a tiny community. In the book, Shannon lists what he thinks are the Four Most Difficult Decisions for a Rural Pastor:
  1. To Pastor in Rural America… with low incomes, low resources, and low expectations.
  2. 2. To reach the lost and unchurched. Most people say they want to reach the lost… until they do and then the church starts changing.
  3. 3. To equip the church with accurate and healthy structure… change bylaws, constitutions, and church policy as necessary.
  4. 4. To remove “Holy Cows” to be more effective… such as pews, property, and people.
I’ve served in my share of small, rural churches. I think Shannon is right on.  Many small churches are stuck. Many are stuck in a structure that is literally a hundred years old.  Many small churches say they want to reach the lost, but when people start coming to Christ and the status quo of the church changes, all of a sudden they’re not quite as excited about it. If you’re the pastor of a rural church, what do you think is the HARDEST part of the job? todd

I love what Shannon O’Dell is doing at Brand New Church.  Shannon is in the smack-dab center of rural America (I mean rural), effectively changing what the rural church can look like.  In this video he shares about Brand New Church’s Hummer jam-packed with video satellite technology.  And he shares how Brand New Church has broken barriers that even larger, better funded churches have been unable to do (or scared to try)… Don’t get me wrong… satellite technology is not for every church.  Neither is multi-site ministry.  However, I love the way that Shannon and Brand New Church are re-inventing how they will reach their rural area; bringing a vital church to dozens of communities that really, truly, need one. You can grab a copy of Shannon’s book here at Amazon.

Shannon O’Dell shares five things that he thinks they don’t teach in seminary, but they should.  See if you agree: #1 How to Communicate Vision #2 How to Lead a Staff #3 How to “Exhort” the Church Bully #4 How to Handle membership Loss #5 How to Love Your Wife as Christ Loved the Church What do you think?  How did seminary best prepare you for day-to-day ministry?  How did seminary fail to prepare you for day-to-day ministry? Todd —Read more here at Shannon’s blog; as well as see a video with Ed Youg & Ed Young Sr. addressing these issues.

Shannon O’Dell writes:  Momentum is a powerful adversary for any organization. As a leader you will either FEEL momentum or FUEL momentum. You have only a moment with momentum, unless you can learn to sustain it. Every opportunity in life (notice there is an IF in the middle of Life) is a moment for potential growth, energy, winning and excitement. You must attack the opportunity, then go 100% after sustaining it. Shannon suggests 5 things to help sustain momentum… #1 Character Who you are in the dark is what will kill or fuel your momentum. As a leader you will be hammered during momentum. Derailment is found when the leader bombs morally, maritally or mentally. So put up the guard against secret sin. Character defects HALT momentum. By the way there is no “secret sin”, God is watching (ouch). It is not how high you can jump that really matters, it’s how you land. Acts 9:22 “His momentum was up now and he plowed straight into the opposition” #2 Consistency Stick with what brought you the momentum. For Brand New Church, it is reaching the lost, the last and the least…not reaching the saved. Many churches do a great job reaching the saved and we need them, but within our local body momentum is built in reaching the lost. Matthew 4:23 “People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them, one and all. More and more people came, the momentum gathering.” Everything we do must be consistently around developing moments of significant life change. Things won’t look the same and you will not use the same methods every time, but the purpose and goal must be the same. #3 Catch It Your best friend is Momentum, but it can be your worst enemy. You can ride it like a wave, but you must know how to catch the wave or it will pummel you into the reef. There are two more than Shannon writes about.  To read about them, you’ll need to visit his blog, Breaking all the Rurals, right here! What do you think?  What have you done in YOUR ministry that enabled you to KEEP momentum going?

I started doing something new this year.  Beginning January 1, I decided that I was going to capture quotes that I find interesting throughout this year.  The quotes could be motivational.  They could be something that made me think.  They could be just provocative statements that would cause me to ponder.  Regardless… I decided that I would write all these down. It’s been a fun experience.  And I’m finding some great things.  Below are some that I think you might enjoy.  I’m not saying that I even agree with all of these… but they are great to read and ‘chew on’. See what you think: “The church that is content with not growing is saying to the rest of the world “You can go to hell” –Rick Warren “It’s much easier to act like a Christian than to react like one. Anyone can put on an act. But your reactions reveal what is really in your heart.” –Mark Batterson “I do not want to be guilty of leading a church passionate about reaching the saved, but fanatics reaching the lost. I have noticed, that every Christian wants to see the lost saved, but not every Christian wants their church to cater to the lost.” –Shannon O’Dell “I can’t Christianize this culture. The god of this world is Satan – this is his culture. He is the god of this age. I’m to preach the gospel. …. God is calling a people for Himself. I don’t know whom He’s calling, I just have to be faithful and preach.” –Franklin Graham “Being a leader does not mean that we will never be in situations that make us shake in our shoes; in fact, it means quite the opposite. When a leader allows the fear of a circumstance to trump the fear of God in his life…he ceases to lead.” –Perry Noble “A leader is a person who is always on the lookout for other potential leaders to discover, develop, and deploy. But if we are not careful, all our energy can leak out to passion stealers, stranding us on a sandbar of mediocrity and ineffectiveness.” –Dave Kraft “After wrestling with this for years, I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that a church building may not be the best location for church employees to do their work.” –Erik Ullestad “Have we created a theological ideology that eliminates any discomfort and marginalizes any element that would cause us pain or even death?” –Brady Boyd “Is the seductive, deceptive lure of some sin such as anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and sexual immorality, creeping into your heart? Is there anyone you’ve been withholding forgiveness from? Do you secretly celebrate the failures of people around you? Have any secrets that you’re working hard to keep from some of your closest friends?” –Pete Wilson “In my experience, once it’s clear you’re willing (not just willing, but itching, moving, and yes, implementing) without them, things start to happen. People are rarely willing to step up and stop you, and often just waiting to follow someone crazy enough to actually do something.” –Seth Godin Maybe as the year goes on, I’ll share more.  Have a favorite ministry or motivational quote that you’d like to share with me?  Pop me an email at Have a great 2010! Todd