“Real Church in a Social-Network World” by Leonard Sweet

Sweet is a semiotician, which means he studies not just events, but the signs behind them. Such a technique can allow one to understand the full impact of marketing, as well as the behind-the-scenes of Scripture that Sweet continually writes about. This time? Moving from a Facebook-style faith to a face-to-face faith.

“Traditional Christian teaching says we learn about human nature and identity by studying [G-d].”

“We can’t deny our need for oxygen, food, and water. Likewise, there are spiritual and relational absolutes that cannot be denied.”

“Faith moves. In contrast, belief can be settled. Faith requires full commitment, whereas belief implies intellectual assent to a set of required teachings. Faith demands all of you; belief might claim no more than your careful consideration.”

Usually with reviews, I tend to summarize the book in my own words, or a synopsis of the publisher, and then give my own take on the book. There are some writers, however, that write so brilliantly that a different approach is sometimes required. In this case, I believe the above quotes correctly and accurately summarize the purpose of this book, and to me, it’s a difficult challenge to approach. He brings up excellent questions, such as challenging whether Sunday church in person, or Lifechurch online, is more real. And it comes down to faith versus belief.

Sweet has his way with words. I have found at times that his writing can be rather condensed or overwhelming for the average reader, but at other times he does really well. It typically has to do with whom he partners in his writing endeavor with. I have previously reviewed a few other works by him, and all of them have this in common: they are detail-oriented, and those details tend to make all the difference, especially in his fiction works. In this case, Sweet doesn’t spare readers the details, and takes those interested in a history of every potential impact of what he has to say on the matter. As a result, to me this is not the casual read during a quick break or lunchtime ritual: it is definitely for the purpose of study.

As for study, Sweet challenges readers to assert themselves and find out what’s true, without forcing them to blindly accept his personal doctrine. As a result, I’d give this title four stars. It could be a bit easier for most folks, but Sweet did just fine overall.

Disclosure: I have received a reviewer copy and/or payment in exchange for an honest review of the product mentioned in this post.