Sailboat Church: Helping Your Church Rethink Its Mission and Practice (bookmark)

sailboat churchby Joan S. Gray
WJK Press, Louisville, Ky. 158 pages

In her book, “Spiritual Leadership for Church Officers,” Joan Gray introduced the metaphor of a sailboat church that has its sails fully open to the wind of the Holy Spirit and whose officers were committed to be led by the same Spirit. Gray proceeded to outline some of the implications of such leadership in a Spirit-led church. The alternative, she argues, is a rowboat church that relies primarily on its own efforts and finds itself riddled by disappointment, anxiety and fear of the future.

In this sequel, Gray, who is a teaching elder and former moderator of the PC(USA), continues to describe ways that churches can flourish by opening their lives to the Holy Spirit, risking new ways of ministry in response to God’s purpose and refusing to be paralyzed by the usual burdens that hinder faithfulness. She knows the real church, having served as a pastor and now serving as an interim pastor. That knowledge gives her credibility as she focuses on the practices that accompany sailboat churches such as prayer, risky obedience to God and tithing. Everything about this book is practical and grounded in the deep conviction that the Holy Spirit is capable of leading a people. It includes a 40-day prayer exercise for congregations as well as an extensive reading list to help people become sailors in sailing congregations. This is essential reading for church leaders.