Dirt Matters by Jim Powell

Dirt Matters addresses the importance of church culture and associates it with the practical and biblical metaphor of soil. Jesus used the analogy of soil to state that the key to fruit-bearing is the ground in which the seed is planted. It really doesn’t matter how you plant the seed; the main thing is the dirt it falls on. Without good soil, the harvest is limited.

Just as soil is a key variable that influences the outcomes of a field, the culture of a congregation establishes the environment that often predetermines the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of God’s Word in that body of believers. More so than issues of style, presentation, or methodology, the culture of a congregation has a direct influence on its health, vibrancy, and effectiveness.

As the foundational text for all we do at 95network, Dirt Matters explains and illustrates the importance of church culture, connecting it to a simple analogy that anyone can understand. It also shares how it is possible to cultivate and nurture a healthier environment that can put you and your church in a better position to bear fruit for God’s glory.



Jim knows what he’s talking about. His ideas and insights aren’t mere theory. He’s put them into practice and has the fruit to prove they work. Called to pastor a church with 65 members and a long history of treading water and slow decline, he focused on changing the culture rather than merely changing the programs. Today, that church has grown from 65 to over 1,400.

“And I know its health and culture firsthand. My son and daughter-in-law attended and served in the ministry while they lived in the region. I’ve had the privilege of visiting the church, teaching the staff, and interacting with leaders and members. That is why I applaud Jim’s insights and commend them to you.
— Larry Osborne, Author and Pastor, North Coast Church, Vista, CA
Jim Powell is the kind of man I would gladly sit under as my pastor. His humble brokenness not always seen among successful Christian leaders releases Jim to live for a vision bigger than himself. His burden to see church become an authentic, repenting, connected community of Jesus followers is Spirit-inspired and God-honoring. Jim Powell is a man worth listening to.
— Larry Crabb, Author and Founder of New Way Ministries, Silverthorne, CO
Jim Powell is one of those outstanding type of leaders who is able to quickly figure out what a given situation needs while patiently bringing people along to see his vision. He definitely has a story to tell that includes lots of learning that many of us need to glean.
— Dave Ferguson, Author and Pastor, Community Christian Church, Naperville, IL

About the Author


Jim Powell is the Founding Director of 95Network, a nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and equipping the 95% of congregations in America that would qualify as small or mid-size.

Both a strategic and a visionary leader, Jim has a heart for helping small and medium size churches and their leadership move toward their redemptive potential. He has a passion to see the Church grow, not just in numbers, but also in maturity. As a result, he coaches, mentors, and consults with pastors and church leaders through 95Network, often focusing on the priority of establishing a healthy church culture – a change-friendly environment where spiritual formation and spiritual direction can take place.

Though he has a calling to help other churches, Jim’s church home is Richwoods Christian Church in Peoria where, as its lead pastor, he has learned firsthand the principles he now teaches. When he came to Richwoods in 1997, the church’s weekly attendance was 65. Today, it is a growing multi-site congregation with four weekend services.

Jim went to Columbia International University in South Carolina for one year before graduating with his B.A. in Theology and Religious Studies from Quincy University. He received his M.A. in Theology and Philosophy from Lincoln Christian Seminary. He and his wife, Stephanie, have two boys, Timothy and Trevor. They enjoy life in Peoria with their English Mastiff (Thor). Jim is a big fan of the Fighting Illini, Kansas City Chiefs, and the St. Louis Cardinals.

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We think the contents of this book have the potential to have real and lasting impact on the health of your church.

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