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So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life and the Church Paperback – April 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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From the Inside Flap
Using the poignant life of John Newton as a touchstone, Sweet calls for the re-union of these three essential, complementary strands of the Christian life. Far from a novel idea, Sweet shows how this structure is God's original intent and shares the simply beautiful design for His church. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
In the book, Len talks about the implications of practicing APC Churches: Attractional, Propositional and Colonial churches. APC churches create members, believers and consumers. However, the MRI Church (Missional, Relational and Incarnational) creates missionaries, disciples, and world changers.
The book is quite thick at over 300 pages. In addition, there are only five chapters, including the introduction. Each of the MRI topics are covered in an individual chapter, along with an introduction and epilogue. Each chapter, however, is broken up into sections that make it easy to take a break in the midst of 40-70 page chapters. I knew this book would be big back in September as Len told me at dinner that each of the topics were 100 pages each and his editor would have to get it down to a manageable size.
Despite it's size, however, it is not a difficult read. But you do have to put your thinking cap on. Len's verbal imagery is very real. He reframes word meanings based on origin and use quite a bit. It is will cause you to pause and consider how you use language yourself. In addition, this a book that draws from a great myriad of sources, as most all of Len's books do. You get a true education by reading Len's book, not just in ministry and life topics, but in science, literature, history, etc.
In the book, Len calls on people and churches to blend together the three MRI strands into one beautiful life.
In Part 1: The Missional Life, Len speaks of God's "going".Read more ›
To summarize the book with one quote from page 162, "When the one lung breathes in the Missional (God's Power) and the other lung breathes in Relational (God's Presence), the body comes alive and exhales the risen incarnate life of Christ."
Leonard paints a picture throughout the book of this DNA of MRI or Missional, Relational, and Incarnational. Nothing new, right?
Some think that this is a new way to look at the church or an old way recently discovered. Many people are searching for a meaningful body of Christ that not only worships on Sunday morning, but breathes with a mission, that extends to relational communities, and takes the message of Christ out into their everyday life or what Sweet calls MRI.
This is a very wordy book. I am not into repeating oneself. Sweet early on even mentions that if "you have not noticed I am saying the same thing in a different way (paraphrased)". One can simply turn to the book of Acts and read about this Missional, Relational, Incarnational way of the church. Sweet is humbly putting modern words into a language that some seem to have forgotten.
Keeping with the Sweet writing pattern he weaves multiple quotes throughout the book that unites everything together in a seamless manner. If you desire to have a renewed vision of the church reread Acts first and then read So Beautiful by Len Sweet. If you have not begin to ponder a deeper meaning for the body of Christ this may jump start your engine. Enjoy Len's words as he casts a vision that needs to be renewed for the body of Christ so others will begin to know, see, and hear that God is really among us (I Cor 14:25).
Sweet opens his text with an introduction to acronyms...and very cunningly leads into his own, which describes the So Beautiful, or MRI, church on which this text is focused: "M" = Missional, "R" = Relational and "I" = Incarnational. Formerly (currently?), many churches operate under the APC Christianity style, or the ABC Church: Attendance, Buildings and Cash. As Sweet notes, "[S]ome things can be good for you for a short time but bad for you over the long haul." He spends the next couple hundred pages helping fellow Christ followers understand, define and take a much closer look at their faith lives and how it works itself both within and without the confines of a church setting.
The author quite engagingly admits that, through his travels he is finding, "God is 'up to something,' stirring part of the body very slowly to rouse the rest." Exciting. Daunting. Challenging. Eye-opening. Yes, to all of these adjectives.
Beginning with a description and overview of the Missional Life: God's "GO," Sweet tells believers that as soon as they become Christians and tell Jesus they're "in," he turns right around and tells them you're "out." This means to go OUT into the world, don't stay clustered inside a stuffy church building where members only congregate and bewail the woes of the larger world.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you wish to move from a church mentality of Aches, Pains and Complaints, to Mission, Relational and Incarnational this book is for you! Read morePublished 10 months ago by Roger
There are wonderful quotes and insights in this book but it is tough going. Sweet has a writing style that can drive you to distractions. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Prudence A. Cole
I have several books by Sweet that I have intended to read ever since I got them, but have not. There will come a time when the opportunity will present itself and I will be better... Read morePublished on June 23, 2014 by Phil Gilliland
This book does the best job of any I have read in my 20 plus years of ministry in laying out the misguided way in which we often measure the church, and more importantly offers a... Read morePublished on April 8, 2014 by Carey Akin
If you're looking for sound bites, I s'pose this guy will be perfect. If you're looking for transformation, change, fire and newness, keep looking, because there are beautiful... Read morePublished on February 18, 2014 by JennyBee
Do you want to be challenged out of complacency? Find out what Mr. Sweet has to say. This is worth your consideration, to be sure!Published on March 23, 2012 by Rodney