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I Am a Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus Paperback – January 2, 2012

4 out of 5 stars 162 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“At times I felt like I was reading Jeremiah, challenging the shepherds of Israel. This is a much needed and long overdue book.”
-Bob Roberts, senior pastor, Northwood Church


“If there was ever a leader who could convince me that it’s really never been about leading, that would have to be Len Sweet. May we all, like Len, become followers.”
-Mark Batterson, lead pastor, National Community Church --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Leonard Sweet is an author of many books, professor (Drew University, George Fox University, Tabor College), creator of preachthestory.com, and a popular speaker throughout North America and the world. His “Napkin Scribbles” podcasts are available on leonardsweet.com  

 

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0849946387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0849946387
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #571,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Len Sweet (www.leonardsweet.com) was born of a mixed marriage: his mother was a fiery Pilgrim Holiness-ordained preacher from the mountains of West Virginia and his quiet father a Free Methodist lay leader from the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York. After a deconversion at 17, when Len set about less sowing wild oats than planting prairies, he became an atheist intellectual and scholar dedicated to exposing the nincompoopery and poppycockery, if not tomfoolery and skullduggery of all religions. After this seven-year period of liminality, Len came back to the faith of his ancestors, where he has been ever since, exploring the "insterstices" and "semiotics" of religion, culture and history. He uses two words to describe himself: semiotician and interstitial. In other words, he is obsessed with two questions: "Where have you been?" and "Where are you going?"

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am a Len Sweet fan. In my opinion, Sweet, the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University (as well as Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Fox University), is one of the most innovative and influential thinkers in the Church today.

So I was excited to read his newest book, I Am a Follower (The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus). I was not disappointed. The book skewers the modern church's success-worshiping, corporate-obsessed "leadership" fixation, and contrasts it with the example and message of Jesus--what Sweet calls "followership culture." He says, "Leadership is an alien template that we have laid on the Bible." And then he goes about showing us the more excellent way of Jesus, in his typically colorful, thoughtful, biblical, and entertaining style.

After the prologue (don't skip it), the book is divided into three sections, characterized by four Latin words: Vece (the place), Via (the way), Verita (the truth), and Vita (the life). It features "Interactives," suitable for individual and group use, in which the author offers questions for discussion and more content for further application. The text is enriched with quotes from a diverse spectrum of voices--from Wendell Berry and Dietrich Bonhoeffer to Hunter S. Thompson and Tom T. Hall. It is a delight to read and a spur to thought.
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By Kevin Hite on January 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic book that I plan on reading many times in the years to come! I say this with the utmost confidence because Leonard Sweet does a fantastic job of shining a bright spotlight on one of the major issues in the church today. It seems that everywhere you look, there is a major Christian conference going on that is expressing the need to develop more and more leaders in the faith. But, as the author points out in I Am a Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus, Christ never called us to be leaders, He called us to follow. Nothing more, nothing less. We are to serve, and when we are placed into a leadership position, we are to serve even more! There are no leaders except Jesus, and all who are followers of Christ should take the time to sit down and read this book. The author shows how many churches are taking on the mindset of the world, using business principles to grow churches and leaders, instead of relying on God to sort it out. This is a huge problem for Christians, and the devil loves to play to our egos! Please do yourself a favor and pick up this book!
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Format: Paperback
I have long loved Len Sweet's work. On the cover of "I Am A Follower" Shane Claiborne calls Sweet "a theological poet," and I totally agree. "I Am A Follower" (I'll just refer to it as "Follower" from here on out) is a great read for our current Christian climate, given our focus on leadership. As I pulled out the book to write this review, I noticed (maybe for the first time) this quote at the bottom of the cover:

(It's never been about leading)

And Sweet makes that point very well. The Christian life is not about heroic leadership, but about servant-followership. "We don't take Jesus into the world. We discern where he's dancing and join in the dance." (p. 9) Jesus is THE leader. He is our leader. We don't lead, we follow.

First Sweet looks at the Way of a follower. Life isn't a set of rules to follow, it's a walk, a journey. "Parking-lot churches are drive-to places where people get their needs met in a minimum amount of time with a maximum of return in religious exaltation. Pedestrian churches consist of people who walk with Jesus in his journeys on earth." (p. 82) We walk along, following Jesus, casting the fruit of the Spirit into a world that is broken and thirsty.

Then there is the Truth: following Jesus does not happen at a distance. We're not some secret spy tailing someone, trying to blend into the crowd when he turns around. We're not trying to find his tracks in the dirt. We're right there with him. We follow close, so close that we smell the things Jesus smells, eat what he eats, hear what he hears. We don't follow a cause, we follow a real person, who is alive and well today. This means that instead of becoming "expert-witnesses for Christ" we are "actual-event witnesses to what we have seen and experienced in our own lives." (p.
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Format: Paperback
"I Am A Follower" has been reviewed a number of times on Amazon and I've read most of them with interest. I've looked to these reviews for insights from the book that I may have missed and to see how others feel about Sweet's proposals. I've come to the conclusion that I'll leave the technical reviews to the professional reviewers who receive 10 new books a day to review and promote on their blogs. I'm no professional reviewer. I'm a professor-practitioner. Ironically, I'm the Director of The Oaks School of Leadership ([...]), which puts me in the line of fire for many of Sweet's critical remarks concerning the current leadership culture in the church. And I felt some of the comments because they stung pretty bad. BUT...as I read, I realized I was feeling more conviction than condemnation. And much of what was said was what I had already been feeling anyway.

In my training of future pastors, missionaries and ministers of various kinds, I've always emphasized the need for every individual to be a good follower and servant-leader. But I've also emphasized a good bit of leadership training, which I still think is important. Some have criticized Sweet for taking an anti-leadership tone, but I don't take his comments to that extreme. I think he's taking a hard line approach in an attempt to swing the pendulum back to center (at least) on the follower-leader spectrum. Balance is needed.

But for me there's a bigger issue on display in Sweet's book that few people are really addressing. It's the matter of supreme importance--discipleship. At the end of the day you can call it followership, servant-leadership, or whatever you want, but if you're not a disciple...and if you're not making disciples, you're wasting your time.
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