The gospel is nothing without relationship. And no one gets it like the Google Generation.
God came to earth to invite us, personally, into a relationship. And while Christians at times downplay relationships, the social-media generation is completely sold on the idea. In Viral, Leonard Sweet says Christians need to learn about connecting with others from the experts—those who can’t seem to stop texting, IM-ing, tweeting, and updating their Facebook statuses. What would happen, he asks, if Christians devoted less attention to strategies and statistics and paid more attention to pursuing relationships?
The current generation is driven by a God-given desire to know others and to be known by others. Most of them, in seeking to connect in meaningful ways, have found a place of belonging that is outside the organized church. Why not bring the two together?
Those who are sold out to relationships can teach Christians how to be better friends to people who need God. At the same time, members of the social-media generation can learn how to follow their desire for belonging, straight into the arms of God. It’s time for relationship to be restored to the heart of the gospel. And when that happens, can revival be far behind?
End-of-Chapter Interactives Included
About the Author
Sweet currently serves as the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew Theological School at Drew University, in Madison, New Jersey; and a visiting distinguished professor at George Fox University in Portland, Oregon. He is the founder and president of SpiritVenture Ministries. He is the bestselling author of more than sixty books including Soul Tsunami and hundreds of articles. He has over 1,000 published sermons, and currently is the chief weekly contributor to the lectionary-based sermons.com. Sweet has weekly podcasting on iTunesU entitled Napkin Scribbles. Sweet is an honors and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Richmond. He earned an MDiv from Colgate/Rochester/Bexley Hall/Crozer and a PhD from the University of Rochester. Sweet is the recipient of honorary Doctorates of Divinity from University of Richmond, Baker University, Lebanon Valley College, Coe College, and Otterbein College. He currently resides on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands, Washington.
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