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I Am a Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus Paperback – January 3, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0849946387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0849946387
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #689,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University (NJ), a distinguished visiting professor at George Fox University (OR), and a weekly contributor to Sermons.com and the podcast Napkin Scribbles. A pioneer in online learning with some of the highest "influence" rankings of any religious figure in the world of social media (Twitter, Facebook), he has authored numerous articles, sermons, and more than fifty 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

I recommend this book for all pastors and church leaders.
M. Lynn
Sweet at times can be a bit strong in his opinion and this book may not sit well with some.
S. E. Ussery
As always, I think Leonard Sweet writes very well and this book is easy to read.
Ian Watkins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robert R. Hostetler on December 28, 2011
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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful 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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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Keith R. Clark on February 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Leonard Sweet's I Am A Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus is another addition to the growing field of books pushing back against Western Christianity's leadership obsession. From the outset, however, one can't help wondering about Sweet's argument against leadership and for followership when he contends "following is the most underrated form of leadership in existence" (14). Is Sweet really challenging the leadership obsession, or is this little more than a game of semantics in which the real issue is a different way of or means to leadership? Sweet tries to distinguish between leadership and followership by suggesting "leadership is a function" and "followership is an identity" (34). Yet while the distinction between function and identity may seem plausible in writing, it seems much less plausible in reality.

As a means of exploring what it might look like to be a follower, Sweet shares extensive meditations on the three metaphors of Jesus in his well-known saying recorded in John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life." Unfortunately, these meditations read more like stream-of-consciousness ramblings than carefully thought-out ruminations on these metaphors. It is not uncommon for Sweet to make startling assertions for which he provides little if any warrant, such as his attack on the focus on spiritual giftedness (pp. 161-169), or his claim that "the new relationality of the localized and organic . . . is creating a web of strength and a fortress of freedom that won't be broken or pulled asunder" (176), or his discussion of New Testament notions of priesthood and church polity (174-178), or his baseless contention that "the major fruit of the Spirit is joy" (252). Really?
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Vickie Beth Morgan on August 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A provocative way to be. Sweet has helped me to look at my responsibility as an ordained elder from new and fresh perspectives. I truly want to be a follower and, if I allow the Spirit of God to be who I am, I will join others on a joyful journey.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T W Douglass on May 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I always find Dr Sweet stretches me. After attending some leadership conferences and reading many leadership books, I found this refreshing and thought provoking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Furbeck on February 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
Leonard Sweet turns the world of discipleship and ministry upside-down in his book, I Am a Follower. His premise is that grasping for leadership is contrary to the heart of God. Jesus didn't call any of us to be leaders. He called each and every one of us to be followers - His followers. Using the example of apostle Paul, Sweet demonstrates this idea. Paul didn't claim to be a leader; Paul asked others to join him as he follows Christ. Those in leadership positions should not really think of themselves as leaders, rather, they should see themselves as first-followers: people who follow Christ first, and then point the way so that others can do the same. This counter-culture book is great for anyone wishing to delve deeper into the realm of discipleship and following Christ.

I've always had a respect for Leonard Sweet, for his creativity, for his writing style, for his ability to get to the heart of the matter and simply tell the truth. I was a little surprised by the nature of this book. I didn't expect Sweet to dash our leadership hopes on the shores of discipleship. But he certainly has opened my eyes to a different way of doing discipleship and a different way of seeing the church. As I work my way through seminary, I am seeing my future in a new way. I don't have to strive for leadership, respect, or anything else. My focus needs to be, first and foremost, on following Jesus Christ and inviting others to follow Him along side of me.

This is a great book for anyone heading into ministry, already in ministry, or anyone looking to delve deeper into discipleship and knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. Sweet does a great job embracing this topic honestly and creatively.
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