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.