Now Available!

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!

Jim

9 thoughts on “Now Available!

  1. Thank you for your new book!
    Coming from a “megachurch,” I have just begun serving as worship pastor of a church where there is a palpable expectation for me to “entertain” the Sunday morning crowd- where there is a general sense that pastors are hired to do the work and babysit the congregation. In the two occasions I have been given opportunity to preach, I addressed the issue of becoming missional people. Even that was an issue– the last time I preached someone commented to my face afterwards, “Why do you preach, I know we hired you to be our music man!” Intentional disciple-making is the missing gem in the North American church.

  2. Jim,
    There is a lot of truth in your “little” book. I would hope that our entire congregation could read it or hear it, and ponder it for a while. After all, the bottom line is what you are doing and have been doing. I hope this book will be in print and in our church library.
    Thank you,
    Beverley Massey

  3. Just found time to read your “little book” — and it’s anything but little! A lot of truth that many of us need to hear and take to heart — especially those of us at FBC from the Ted Adams era who still love the church and have seen it change, and happily in FBC’s instance, in my belief, has stayed relevant to the world in which it exists. Transitions never come easily, in my opinion, but I do believe that your leadership in moving us from “attractional” to “missional” will eventually be understood and embraced by the majority of the congregation. There will always be those who long for the “good ole days” but one learns to live in Today, and look forward to Tomorrow and the possibilities that it may bring. Thank you for helping us see this!

  4. Jim: I really appreciated the insights you shared in the book. I’ve been involved in local church ministry for over 30 years and I think you are right on target. Your book offers a word of hope & encouragement for those of us who have seen so many changes in the church during the recent years. Will the book be available in published form? If not, is it permissible to make copies to share with the leadership team in our church? Thank you again for this outstanding ministry resource.

  5. Jim, have you read Carol Howard Merritt’s new book, Reframing Hope? Give it a go. Alban publishes it and I just reviewed it. It’s like yours in many ways. Good stuff abounds right now. I’m so glad people are writing about how to move forward and not just proclaiming that the sky is falling. I know it’s falling! So, now what?

    Thanks again. Great stuff.

  6. I am convinced that the future universal church will be like the first century church(es); (underground) house congregations. May God forgive me, but I also believe, because of the global growth of Islam, that the West is becoming an Islamic world. I understand that Western Europe already is Muslim. Our biggest challenge and opportunity is that Christian churches would not become mosques.

    Thanks be to God that many Muslims are coming to faith in Jesus at the risk of their lives as a result of sharing the Gospel with them!

  7. Steve: feel free to use the book in any way that would be helpful to you. That’s what’s it there for. And thank you for your kind words! Jim

  8. Dr. Somerville:

    You are very insightful! I remember the “Million More in ’54” Southern Baptist Sunday School enrollment campaign. There was actually a song composed with that title. Allen Brown, I know that you remember!

    Yes, it’s a different world indeed. “Ozzie & Harriet” and “Father Knows Best” were White, Anglo-Saxon Protesant (WASP) myths, anyway.

    There was Billy Graham, Bishop Fulton Sheen and others who left a legacy on which to build for this “millennial” generation of Christians.

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