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AquaChurch: Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today's Fluid Culture Hardcover – June 1, 1999
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"AquaChurch is worth taking the time to read. Len Sweet is someone I greatly respect and appreciate. You will agree when you have navigated through AquaChurch. Thanks, Len." -- Dr. Walt Kallestad, Sr. Pastor, Community Church of Joy
"Len Sweet is a master of the apt metaphor. He discerns today's invisible forces that make leadership more like a voyage than a march. His navigational aids help keep us on course." -- Marshall Shelley, Editor, Leadership magazine
"Len Sweet is an ancient-future leader who navigates by God's North Star. This book is a must read for Jesus leaders who risk navigating uncharted, postmodern seas." -- Mike Slaughter, Pastor, Ginghamsburg Church
"Len Sweet offers us a 'learning' manual on self-navigating the 'watery' world of Postmodernism. Instead of describing a one-size-fits-all type of instruction manual on leadership, he shares with us the 'leadership arts' that can help guide us through the turbulent currents of today." -- Bill Easum, President, 21st Century Strategies, Inc.
From the Inside Flap
"It's time to get the church seaworthy and seagoing again. It's time for the church to rediscover the vocation of voyaging."---Leonard Sweet
Wondering how to guide your congregation in this unstable, unsteady and turbulent postmodern world? In this latest work from church historian, futurist, and best-selling author Leonard Sweet, church leaders will discover leadership arts essential for thriving in today's culture.
In this provocative, yet practical book, Sweet identifies 11 1/3 Leadership Arts including:
Orienting by the North Star: Jesus the Christ Casting the Anchor: Tradition Studying Our Compass: The Scriptures Seeing Through Scopes: Vision Taking Shore Leave: Sabbaticals, and more.
The discussion of each Leadership Art is followed by these practical applications... Captain's Logbook---ideas to stimulate you to become a better leader in today's culture, Ship's Log---activities to help your church leadership examine and apply the chapter's principles.
You'll discover how churches like Community Church of Joy, Flamingo Road Church, Saddleback Valley Community Church and nine others are thriving while applying these leadership arts. Find out how to energize tradition...communicate effectively...to see what's really happening in your church. Plus more!
AquaChurch is essential reading for every church leader wanting to impact their congregation, and respond to its changing needs.
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Not so, however, his grasp of Scripture and this is what makes the book disturbing. While he acknowledges the authority of Scripture, he fails to demonstrate proper exegesis. He calls himself almost a fundamentalist when it comes to the content of the gospel, but almost a libertine when it comes to the containers in which the gospel is presented, which sounds a lot like "the end justifies the means." When it comes to methods, anything goes. I fear that such looseness with methods cannot help but compromise the message. A dirty container will pollute the content that is placed within it, and too much adaptation to culture will adversely affect our understanding of the gospel. Sweet walks too close to the line, I think.
There is more emphasis on giftedness and innovation in leadership than on character and godliness. In fact, I remember absolutely no discussion on the qualifcations for leadership stipulated in the Pastoral Epistles. Troubling, for a book on church leadership. Creativity is given more weight than fidelity to Scripture. The pulpit is considered a prison, not the primary platform for disseminating truth. These all make the book disturbing to me, and not one that I would quickly recommend to
A few positives, though: his chapter on taking shore leave (Sabbaths) was needed and helpful. Also, his many, many colorful illustrations and quotations. The book is worth periodic revisiting for the illustrations alone. I also see value in Sweet's emphasis on utilizing technology, particularly the Internet, in the church - but not to the neglect of more traditional forms like preaching and teaching.
So, in summary, this book is a mixed bag. In Sweet's attempt to help the ship of the church navigate the seas of postmodern culture, Aquachurch is in danger of getting too much water into the boat.
This is another classic contribution by church historian and futurist Leonard Sweet. Advocating the image of "AquaChurch", Sweet guides the reader on an enjoyable voyage exploring leadership arts for navigating the watery world of postmodernism and leading it to the gospel. Sadly churches all too often are drifting around with maps from the 1950s or 1980s, when we need not just new maps and instruction manuals but fresh tools and learning manuals. So Sweet discusses essentials like Jesus, the Bible, tradition, vision, communication, creativity, risk-taking, teamwork, and sabbaticals. He challenges churches to overcome their imagination deficit, cultivate intuition, be creative and take out of the box risks. The book comes complete with examples and a wealth of practical ideas for leaders and churches.
Originally reviewed for D Cronshaw "The Emerging Church: Pioneering Leadership and Innovation Reading Guide", Zadok Paper (Forthcoming 2010).
One interesting point that did occur to me while I was reading "AquaChurch" was the fact that, since this book was written a couple of years ago and emphasized the fast-changing nature of society, that society had changed at such a rapid pace that parts of the book were obsolete by the time I read it! Maybe Sweet will update this volume every few years to keep it in print and relevant. Nonetheless, this is a very useful book for all who are in church leadership.