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Viral Paperback – 13 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Waterbrook (13 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307459152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307459152
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 536,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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., University of Rochester), is founder and president of SpiritVenture Ministries and serves as the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew Theological School in Madison, New Jersey. He also is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, and the chief writer for, a resource for pastors and other Christian speakers. A popular speaker himself, Sweet has written more than twenty books, including The Three Hardest Words, Out of the Question Into the Mystery, AquaChurch, SoulTsunami, and SoulSalsa.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter Mcmurray on 9 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
Viral is a pretty new book from Leonard Sweet all about the impact modern social media and technology can have on helping us as a Church to spread the gospel. Leonard splits society into two groups - Gutenbergers who grew up before the introduction of Facebook/Twitter etc, and Googlers who are native to the use of social networking sites. He looks in depth at the differences in these two groups, and I felt that he spent too much time looking at this and drawing too many generalisations by splitting all current Western society into just two groups.

Once the book moves on to looking at different sites and technologies - Twitter, Facebook, iPhones and Google and how we can use them to connect with God and to connect with those we need to reach out with. The Twitter section has some very good practical applicable sections about how we can just Twitter to help our relationship with God, and how to be a source of light shining bright in the darkness not hidden under a stand in the twittersphere. Unfortunately the other sections don't match up to this and I found them to be less applicable, and more just theory based.

In general this book seems to be aimed more at those who are a bit older and less used to social networking, and as such spends a lot of time explaining those networks, and also relates them to some quite deep church history and theology that makes this a tough read, but one that would be good for those who are in leadership positions in the church and need to learn how to embrace modern outreach techniques.

Legal disclaimer - I was provided with a free e-copy of this book by Waterbrook Multnomah in return for a fair review. I was not obliged to post a positive review
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Format: Paperback
I was excited by the title of this Leonard Sweet book. Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival has a real sense of promise about it. But I have to confess that I was disappointed, much as I was with another of his books, I am a Follower. I think at this point I need to admit that I am probably just not a Leonard Sweet fan. I find too much of his writing to be disjointed and circular; I also feel it slips into repetition.

Yet this is not to take away from the fact that there are some good ideas in the book, as he questions what it means to understand the Google culture now pervasive in the West. He suggests that this technological change, and its resulting cultural impact, is as significant as the introduction of the Gutenberg press in terms of how Christians might reach the world with the gospel. Thus, he claims, the key is for Christians to adapt to these changes, to learn from the `digital natives' who are confident in this new world of iPhones, twitter and Facebook, as they leverage networks as a means of relationship-building over the individualism inherent in the Gutenberg culture.

Honestly...? I think this is articulated better and, perhaps, with fewer generalisations by other writers I have been reading lately. It's a shame because I really want to like Leonard Sweet's work and I certainly am fascinated by the same kind of topics as he writes about, but I just can't get past his writing style. However, if you love Sweet's work and are unfamiliar with this kind of categorisation of culture within the liminality in which we currently find ourselves, then this might be one for you!

I received a free e-copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in return for a fair review.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 63 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great concepts 17 Mar. 2012
By J. Johnson - Published on
Format: Paperback
There are two disclaimers that I have to put at the beginning of this review.

The first is an official one. I received this book free for review from Blogging for Books by WaterBrook Multnomah. This does not mean that the review has to be favorable, so the review is my honest opinion, but I do have to notify that it was a review copy. Consider yourself notified.

The second is unofficial. I am a huge fan of Leonard Sweet's books. I have read almost every single one of his books, so the fact that this one came up for review was awesome! The fact that two came out in one month is even better (the second Sweet book is I Am a Follower which I am also reading for fun). So, I am a little biased when it comes to Sweet's stuff.

With both of those disclaimers typed, onto the review. In Viral, Sweet introduces two concepts namely the Gutenberger culture and the Googlers culture. The Gutenberger culture is defined by Sweet as those who were raised with type and paper while the Googlers are defined by Sweet as those who were raised in the computer age. I am going to stop there before going on since this was one of the sticking points that kept nagging at me as I was reading this book. Dividing people into two groups is going to be problematic since people tend not to fit neatly into categories. I understood what Sweet was doing and even he acknowledges the difficulty of dividing at the very end of the book, but there are whole groups of Gutenbergers who are very comfortable in the Googler world. As I wrote, that was just a sticking point, but throughout the book his point isn't to divide the groups to define them, but rather to talk about how each group views God, Jesus, the church, etc. His point is that both groups come to know Jesus in very different ways and the church will need to embrace both ways eventually moving to the Googler world, but tends to reside in the Gutenberger world.

Since the Googler world is the main focus of the book, Sweet goes deeper into the world by calling them TGIF Christians. The TGIF Christian is the second concept and takes up the end of the book. TGIF stands for-Twitter, Google, iPhone, and Facebook. Googlers are comfortable in these social worlds. He uses each social network to not only show how the church should address the Googlers, but also how they see God. He uses each Social network to name to define certain views. For example, he uses Twitter to talk about Following and following Christ, iPhones for connectedness, etc. He not only shows the pluses of these, but also some of the difficulties that the Googlers will have with each of these especially around the idea of false communities.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. As I wrote, I had a stumbling block with the division in the beginning and I could not get "Thank God It's Friday" out of my head while reading the acronym in the beginning of the book. I will also say that on some points I felt that Sweet was trying to wedge Jesus into a great concept and Jesus could have been left out of that concept and it would still have been valid. Other times I think he pulled back too quickly when he could have connected the concept to Jesus easily. For example, during the Facebook discussion, he talks about the desire of Googlers to be face to face with people. I felt that he could have talked about the connectedness that Jesus had to people, but the concept never made it. I would say the book is worth reading though and it has some absolutely wonderful concepts.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Finally! Someone who critically engages digital culture rather than just loving or loathing it. 13 Mar. 2012
By david mcdonald - Published on
Format: Paperback
Typically those who write on the digital intersection between gospel + culture want to either abandon everything prior to the apple IIC or decry everything since the death of Billy Sunday.

But not Sweet - he may be the one honest participant observer left within the confines of Western Christianity. He knows his gospel, and he knows his google, and he knows how the two can be made to play well together.

Viral teaches us how to incarnate the gospel in the digital era. Sweet doesn't just tell us we should (though, we should), he also tells us the "rules of enagement." And it's not all theoretical; he's a guy who practices what he tweets.

This book will stretch your thinking in two directions: first, you'll have a new appreciation for the movement of God's Spirit within our contemporary world; second, you'll feel prompted to follow suite, to continue the incarnation as part of the body.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
One of the most well-written books on the subject of the cultural significance of social networking and it’s affect on the Gospe 30 Dec. 2012
By Steve Gagne - Published on
Format: Paperback
Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival was my first introduction to Dr. Leonard Sweet, and man was a I blown away!

In this book, Sweet works on breaking down two main topics and explains their impact on culture, relationships and communication; and then relates that information to how it has affected the spread of the Gospel. The first topic is that of the two generations we see in USAmerica—”Gutenberger” and “Googler”— and weaves the comparison of these generations through each main category of the second topic—the “TGIF culture.”

Sweet goes through a great effort early in the book to help the reader understand the difference between the “Gutenbergers” and “Googlers.” This greatly solidifies the significance of the message, as it enables you to put his argument into proper context, how social networking is poised to ignite revival. If you don’t grasp the generational differences from the beginning, then it would be difficult to follow the rest of the book, as it leans heavily on understanding the differences. He then builds on this foundation with a great teaching on the significance of the “TGIF culture”—Twitter, Google, iPhone, Facebook.

I have the privilege of approaching this book from a unique position—I have my degree in Youth Ministry and have been a Youth Pastor at 2 churches, am currently starting a new church, and also work full time as the Social Media Manager for an international non-profit organization. So to see the significance and importance of Sweets proposal is an understatement. I live what he is teaching here on a daily basis beyond being an early adopter of Facebook, Twitter, and the iPhone.

This book is highly recommended!

Since I began reading this book, every person I have come in contact with that works with youth in any fashion, as well as anyone involved in church ministry, has heard me rant about how important it is for them to read this book. To date, I believe it is one of the most well-written books on the subject of the cultural significance of social networking and it’s affect on the Gospel.

So, are you a Gutenburger or a Googler? Are you a catalyst for sparking revival, or have you become irrelevant to this evolving culture? Get your copy today and find out!
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"Viral" by Leonard Sweet 16 Aug. 2012
By Andrew Demoline - Published on
Format: Paperback
"The Gospel is nothing without relationship. And no one gets it like the google generation." So begins the copy for Viral by Leonard Sweet. What follows, once you get into the book, is 4 chapters distinguishing the "Google generation" from the "Gutenberg generation." Once Sweet has set up this division, he proceeds to examine Twitter, Google, iPhones, and Facebook and how each of these lends itself to relationship and, thus, the gospel. Sweet concludes by saying that we need to be able to deal with both cultures with love and hospitality.

I have enjoyed some of Sweet's books in the past. I did not enjoy this. The problems with this book are numerous. Sweet acknowledges, in the final pages of his book, that he has "grievously simplified the two cultures" of 'googler' and 'gutenberger.' He is almost right. I would go so far as to say that he has invented these two cultures. People, at least the people I know, do not divide along these lines much at all. What you get, then, is a shallow analysis of a non-existent phenomenon based on exaggerated pop-cultural cliches. Unfortunately, most of the chapters follow suit. The "analysis" (if you can call it that) of each pop trend is also entirely based on stereotyping. Sweet's conclusion is, of course, absolutely true: we do need to embrace people regardless of their culture. Of course, when the entire book has failed to get below the surface it is not difficult to find a general Christian principle with which to conclude.

Conclusion: 1 Star. Not Recommended. You won't find anything worth your time here.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Viral Revival 21 Dec. 2012
By Taek04 - Published on
Format: Paperback
In Viral, Leonard Sweet takes the time to look at two prominent groups of individuals. He terms them Gutenbergers and Googlers and the difference between them is how they relate to one another.

While Gutenbergers primarily work with understanding words and their meaning via academic means, Googlers work with others to decipher meaning. Googlers are more in motion as opposed to static.

I found it a bit difficult at first to get into Sweet's writing, however as the book progressed, I found it easier as the flow picked up. Within the Christian church, as culture has evolved, we've often been left 'behind the times.' It's important to be with the times as culture evolves in order to reach out and touch others more.

I find it important to mention that while the Googler era can bring connection, it's not necessarily a great way to 'reach out' to others. It certainly has a time and a place, but it is not something that one should live their life by.

In today's age and society, living virtually can consume an individual, they can lose themselves to a second life, forgetting the big world outside and around them. While Sweet seemed inclined to lean towards the Googler group, I appreciated his willingness and attempt to engage both sides as opposed to heavily endorsing or loathing one. All too often we concern ourselves with whether or not Jesus would do a particular thing, perhaps instead of asking if Jesus would have a Facebook we should consider how Jesus would use His Facebook?

For a well thought out book, I give Viral by Leonard Sweet 4/5 stars. You should take time to read this book if you seek to better understand Gutenbergers or Googlers. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.
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