I’ve published a book on the issuu.com web site. It’s called “When the Sand Castle Crumbles,” and it’s for pastors and members of churches that were thriving in the fifties but are now struggling to survive. It’s free, it’s online, and you can read the whole thing in less than an hour.
The book grew out of five sermons I delivered at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church during the 2010 Lenten Luncheon series, as I shared my thoughts about why so many churches in America seem to be dying and what can be done about it. My hope then (and now) is that these words would be an encouragement to those churches, and help them re-imagine their mission.
Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:
When my daughter, Ellie, was a little girl we built a magnificent sand castle at the beach. It had turrets and towers, and little flags sticking up on top. We were standing there admiring it when the first wave lapped up against the foundation. “Daddy!” she screamed. “Do something!” So I did. I started digging a moat around the castle and Ellie helped me pile up a big floodwall in front. But there was a whole ocean out there and the tide was coming in. In the end we watched helplessly as the waves washed our sand castle away.
“Now what?” Ellie asked, glumly.
I looked out over the clear blue ocean, felt the warm water swirling around my ankles.
“Let’s go swimming,” I said.
That story is a metaphor of what’s happening to the church in America today. The beautiful edifices we constructed during the “Christian Century” have been emptying out over the past few decades. Those of us in leadership positions are doing everything we can to shore up the foundations, dig moats around the church, and build floodwalls to save it. But maybe that’s not the answer. Maybe at a time when the tides of change threaten to destroy the church it’s time to go swimming, time to dive into a culture that no longer loves the church and learn a few new strokes.
To read the book, just click the link below. When you get to the web site, click on the “full screen” option at the top left for easy viewing, and then use those little arrows down at the bottom right corner of your keyboard to turn the pages.
When the Sand Castle Crumbles by Jim Somerville
Feel free to forward the link to others, especially those who might need a little encouragement. And, as always, thanks for reading!