The Sticks: Shannon O’Dell

Fourteen years ago I met Shannon O’Dell as I was leaving Life Action and he was arriving. I was stunned by his passion for people. A few years later I tried to hire him to do youth ministry in Granger. He declined, but we’ve stayed in touch.

He helped relaunch Brand New Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Eighteen months ago they were a small church with one campus. Now they have 5 campuses throughout north-central Arkansas.

I loved Shannon’s talk on day two at the Sticks Conference. Some quotes…

  • The greatest mission-field in the world is rural America. It is the most churched and unchurched area in the world.
  • The moment you decide to grow a congregation before reaching congregants, you have lost God’s heart for the church. I don’t want to grow a congregation, I want to grow congregants.
  • Rural church leaders are crippled by the “seemed to be leaders” in your church instead of getting a vision and communicating the vision.
  • We have made the large church into the glamorous thing to achieve.
  • I cried when I knew God wanted me to go to this rural church. There were 33 people in attendance the first weekend. One year later we were running 90.
  • A dying church asked us to take over their church, and soon we were running 300. We combined into a gym, began with 600. Now we have 5 campuses plus an internet campus. People from more than 60 countries now attend our internet campus which comes from a town of 407 in northern Arkansas.
  • If you have a vision, God is ready to meet you there.
  • If you want a healthy church, you need a healthy system/structure.
  • The only one called to the church is the pastor (or other staff). Deacons are not called. Lay elders are not called. Pastors are called.
  • If you are a pastor, and your marriage isn’t red-hot…then your salvation isn’t red-hot.
  • I know pastors who don’t believe God can change their church. They believe Jesus was born of a virgin—even though they weren’t there. They believe the Bible is inerrant—even though they never met the authors. Yet they’ve stopped believing God can change their church.
  • The math at Brand New Church: 31 minus 12 now equals 2,000. It’s all about God.
Tim StevensComment