Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite  Revival  -     By: Leonard Sweet
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Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival

WaterBrook / 2012 / Paperback

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Product Description

Why does Facebook have millions of young members but the average congregation has only a few? Perhaps the Google generation has something to teach the Gutenbergers! Contending that today's church reflects a 16th-century mindset, Sweet encourages us to practice the values of Jesus and the digital age---belonging, connecting, involvement, community, and relationship.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: WaterBrook
Publication Date: 2012
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0307459152
ISBN-13: 9780307459152

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Publisher's Description

The gospel is nothing without relationship. And no one gets it like the Google Generation.
God came to earth to invite us, personally, into a relationship. And while Christians at times downplay relationships, the social-media generation is completely sold on the idea. In Viral, Leonard Sweet says Christians need to learn about connecting with others from the experts—those who can’t seem to stop texting, IM-ing, tweeting, and updating their Facebook statuses. What would happen, he asks, if Christians devoted less attention to strategies and statistics and paid more attention to pursuing relationships?
The current generation is driven by a God-given desire to know others and to be known by others. Most of them, in seeking to connect in meaningful ways, have found a place of belonging that is outside the organized church. Why not bring the two together?
Those who are sold out to relationships can teach Christians how to be better friends to people who need God. At the same time, members of the social-media generation can learn how to follow their desire for belonging, straight into the arms of God. It’s time for relationship to be restored to the heart of the gospel. And when that happens, can revival be far behind?
End-of-Chapter Interactives Included

Author Bio

LEONARD SWEET, PhD, is founder and president of SpiritVenture Ministries and is a professor at Drew University and a visiting distinguished professor at George Fox University. A leading social critic and cultural observer, Sweet is considered one of the most influential Christians in North America. He is the chief writer for and has authored numerous books that have changed Christian thinking, including The Gospel According to Starbucks, Soul Tsunami, and Jesus Manifesto (with Frank Viola). Sweet lives in northern Washington.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Viral

"There are plenty of books on technology by writers who don’t understand Christianity. And there are plenty of books on Christianity by people who are lost in the world of technology. The genius of Leonard Sweet is that he navigates both worlds, and his insight into living as a believer in today’s media-driven culture is not just helpful, it’s critical.
Viral connects the dots between social media and our witness to the world."
—Phil Cooke, PhD, filmmaker, media consultant, and author of Jolt! Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing

"Viral is culturally astute, Christ centered, gospel focused, kingdom oriented. Tweet that! Leonard Sweet captures the zeitgeist of our age in a biblically subversive way that redeems our technoculture for Christ. He explores the promise and the peril of our brave new world of electronic connectivity, while showing Christians how to apply the gospel at the crossroads of modernity and postmodernity, individualism and community, rational and relational faith. If you are skeptical of TGIF (Twitter, Google, iPhone, Facebook) or want to learn more, you must read this book."
—Brian Godawa, screenwriter of To End All Wars and author of Hollywood Worldviews, Word Pictures, and Noah Primeval

"Leonard Sweet has always been Patient Zero for Spiritually Transmitted Dis-ease, and Viral transmits the pathogen of the Paraclete better than any other work I know. Sweet connects the incarnation to the web, taking readers beyond the vapid and introducing us to the layers of meaning behind the pixels on the screen."
—David McDonald, author of The Undwellable City

"In Viral, Leonard Sweet paints a fascinating picture of today’s highly creative TGIF culture, while inviting the Gutenberg Generation into a new experience of Jesus’s timeless campfire story. The Googler Generation’s passion for spreading the divine viral epidemic through their passion for social media and narratives, as well as their longing for connectivity and participation, provides fascinating challenges for all followers of Jesus. Christians need to become part of God’s viral revival. Sweet shows us how."
—Stephan Joubert, extraordinary professor in New Testament studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa; extraordinary professor of contemporary ecclesiology, University of the Free State, South Africa; research fellow at Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; and editor of Ekerk /Echurch

"The church has never been more equipped to reach people with the gospel. With that opportunity comes a tremendous responsibility to communicate the unchanging message of the gospel in an ever-changing, hyper-connected culture. Leonard Sweet shares how Christ-followers can spread this life-changing message and bring about a revival unlike any we have seen before. He provides practical ideas and pastoral insight into leveraging the exponential opportunities available to share our faith through social media."
—Tim Schraeder, co-director of the Center for Church Communication and editor of Outspoken: Conversations on Church Communication

Product Reviews

3.8 Stars Out Of 5
3.8 out of 5
3.8 out Of 5
(3.8 out of 5)
3.7 out Of 5
(3.7 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
3.5 out Of 5
(3.5 out of 5)
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Displaying items 1-5 of 12
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  1. Northern, VA
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    on Tweeting a Revival
    February 28, 2013
    Northern, VA
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 2
    It might just be me, but sometimes, when I'm reading a book, I feel like reaching through the pages and throttling the author. Or, perhaps something less violent, like shouting my arguments and wrestling in a debate akin to one of the many sports talk shows I frequently watch. Such is how I feel when I read books like Viral.

    It may be simply that Sweet comes across as arrogant by insisting to use words that cost significantly more than necessary. Or perhaps it's less personal. Perhaps my angst is driven by the faulty premise I see over and over, one that is also derived from arrogance, in a sense. It seems the thesis of Viral rests on the foundation of believing that modern society has surpassed all of history's previous generations in splendor and sophistication. It is the belief that our modern technology has advanced the human race is finally positioned to take its rightful place as sons and daughters of God. In truth, we've always been there.

    Sweet posits that the current tools of the digital age have unlocked the power to spark a revival among the next generation, dubbed Googlers. Unfortunately, (rather, what was particularly bothersome to me) this belief leads Sweet to villainize Gutenbergers and ignore the faults of Googlers. Though Sweet offers some interesting potentials for Twitter, Facebook, and the like, he fails to fully address motives, intentions, and practicalities.

    It's a rather one-sided glimpse at what the future may hold. And, though it also seems short-sighted, it's a provocative read, one that spurs on an inner debate dialogue, if you're into that sort of thing.

    - from trudatmusic[dot]com[slash]raw
  2. Williamston,MI
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: male
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Unique approach to ministry
    December 1, 2012
    pastor les
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 3
    I found this a unique approach to ministry. I must admit I have found it difficult to wade through the book,"Viral"

    It is probably because I am as he puts it,"a Gutenberger".For me the book was wordy and not up to what I had hoped I would find in reading the book. I am being hard on the author,but I found that it was not that applicable to me. Oh there were some good points and undoubtedly will be "great for the googlers of this age."

    You will have to read it and make your own decison.
  3. Denver
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Reviewing Viral (Leonard Sweet)
    October 9, 2012
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    I have been reading Leonard Sweet's new book Viral which talks about the developing world of Googlers (technology natives) over and against the Gutenbergers (print natives). I've had the privilege of hearing Sweet speak at the inauguration of my colleges last president and found him compelling and engaging then, so I was excited to read this book. In Viral he highlights the differences of Googlers and Gutenbergers and offers a compelling reason for Googlers to embrace who they are and for Gutenburgers to adopt Googler practices. While never explicitly saying so, his dividing seems to also be in line with the philosophical shift from modernity to post-modernity. He highlights the way truth is perceived and communicated by each group and offers solutions for moving forward in the world.

    Sweet clearly seems to be writing more for the Gutenberg audience, trying to persuade them to join a Google revolution in ministry and cultural engagement. For anyone wondering, he offers a helpful questionnaire at the beginning of the book so you know which camp to place yourself.

    Sweet's main points revolve around the acronym TGIF, which stands for Twitter, Google, iPhone and Facebook. He examines each one and shows how it has played a part in the sharing, distribution and perception of truth. He highlights things like community, openness and shared knowledge as the way the Googler culture works. It is defined not primarily because I (or anyone) is an expert but because we have access to knowledge and information.

    As a Google native I felt it a bit hard to keep reading. It was, in a very real sense, a book written about me. It is a book that is going to be more helpful to those that identify themselves as a child of Gutenberg in helping them transition into a Google world.

    His most helpful analogy in the book was his examination of the apple and the orange and how each relates to either a Gutenberger or a Googler. The observation is that an Apple is holistic in the way we eat it. You can get a little bit of every part of the apple. Googlers approach the world in the same mindset. They, at their center of their very identity, long to be an integrated and whole person. Oranges on the other hand (Gutenbergers) are segmented. You peel an orange and eat individual segments. Each part of the fruit is broken up and taken individually. He looks at things like the segmentation of the Bible (the introduction of chapters and verses) as an example. You don't get a PhD in Bible, you get a PhD in Pauline eschatology for example. This is a segmentation of the entire whole of the Bible. Googlers are seeking to reconnect what Gutenbergers have segmented and broken.

    It should also not go without note that each chapter concludes with a few group questions for discussions. This sets it up quite easily to be a good book for a small group to study, particularly a middle-aged (or slightly younger) group of people that are Gutenbergers but have Google children. It will explain some of the differences that each group has and ways to move forward.

    Quickly, a shorter review (my own categories):

    Level of readability: Easy (Sweet avoids overly complicated terms and ideas)

    Understanding of Arguments and Thesis: Easy (You can quickly pick up where he is going)

    Level of engagement: High (This is a book you want to keep reading)

    Overall: 3 1/2 or 4 stars out of 5. While it won't be on my list of must reads, it is a strong and enormously helpful book for those wondering where the future of ministry is heading in a technologically driven age.

    Disclaimer: I reviewed a free copy of this book through the BloggingForBooks program offered by WaterBrook Multnomah publishing. I was in no way compensated for this review and all views are expressly and entirely my own. I was not required to offer a positive review.
  4. Oklahoma City, OK
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Wonder why we're different?
    September 24, 2012
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Leonard Sweet's book Viral was a real help to me. I am a middle-aged pastor and much of communicating the gospel to this generation who sees Church as either unimportant or evil is quite mind-boggling to me. Sweet's breakdown between Gutenbergers (me) and Googlers (everyone younger than me) helped illuminate some of the fundamental differences in how differently the generations receive and process information and truth. I think this book would be equally helpful to a young person who is mystified by the older generation's attachment to things such as organizations and committee meetings.

    "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."
  5. Joplin, MO
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: male
    2 Stars Out Of 5
    Not so Viral
    September 15, 2012
    Joplin, MO
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: male
    Quality: 2
    Value: 2
    Meets Expectations: 1
    The author brings forth a unique and definitely relevant view of social media. His comparison between what he calls the Gutenbergers and the Googlers is spot on, especially of the difficulty of each group trying to relate to the other. But that is about it. He tries to explain how social media has the potential to stimulate revival. He is definitely a Gutenberger, because ironically he calls himself a Googler and yet takes so much time to say virtually nothing, or at least very little of interest to me. It took me six months to read the first half of the book, and I cringed at the thought of having to finish it. There is no doubt about the author's intent. He wants to share the gospel and get others to do so. Social media is definitely an avenue to be open and honest about our lives. But more than anything else, social media also has the potential to make everything superficial and impersonal.

    I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of a book review bloggers program. Clearly I was not under any obligation to write a positive review. Regardless of my feeble thoughts, I pray that this book will bring others to Christ.
Displaying items 1-5 of 12
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