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Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival Paperback – March 13, 2012
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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
About the Author
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 sermons.com 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.
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Western Christianity from the Enlightenment forward has been dominated by Gutenberg Christians: people who sought to order and make sense of all of life, including the life of faith. Gutenberg Christians are big on theology, individualism, and being right. They value rationality, and inhabit a world filled with printed pages. The world of today and that of tomorrow belongs to the Googlers: people who make relationship and connection primary in all of life, including the life of faith. Google Christians are big on Jesus, community, and being in relationship. They value relationality, and inhabit a world of endless data. In recent years the baton has been passed from the Gutenbergers to the Googlers; the future of the church is now firmly in the hands of Googler Christians.
Googlers have crafted a new culture that has displaced many experts, and ensured that everyone has a voice. While we are living in the early years of this new era, it is important to understand this is a TGIF culture: Twitter, Google, iPhone, and Facebook. With this new landscape in mind, Sweet devotes chapters to each area before suggesting that together these new technologies offer previously unimaginable possibilities for the viral expansion of the Christian faith.
TGIF represents the most "visible and relied-upon tools of relationship and life" (p.15). The Reformation enabled Gutenberg thinking that led most Christians to read the words of the biblical text on printed pages. The digital reformation is enabling Googler thinking that is leading most Christians to see "the Word of God is primarily Jesus Christ, not the Bible. It is Person, not print" (p.196).