Sunday, August 05, 2012
Book Review of I Am a Follower by Leonard Sweet
I Am a Follower: The Way, the Truth, and the Life of Following Jesus
Reviewed by Clint Walker
Leonard Sweet is a brilliant man. He has written a number of books. He does well in documenting the trends that pervade the church, especially the evangelical church in America today. What he is especially brilliant at is explaining concepts that are making their way through scholarly circles, and breaking them down in a direct and easy to understand way for the masses. Whether he is discussing friendship, leadership, spiritual formation, or postmodern church, he breaks down what is happening in little echo chambers and gives the information to the masses. Nearly all of Sweet's books take on a metaphor that will guide the reader into having a visual understanding of the text.
In I Am a Follower, Leonard Sweet is attempting to explain the importance for believers, and especially Christian leaders. to lead by being good followers. He connects this concept, rather deftly, to open source leadership in the 21st century.
From the very start of the book, and throughout the text, Sweet employs the metaphor of dance to describe the dynamic of being a good follower, and doing so in part, to be good leader. He uses the term perichorisis, which is a theological term used to describe the nature of relationships within the Trinity. Within the term perichorisis, Sweet explains, is the metaphor of a dance. Sweet goes on to explain that we are called to allow God to lead in the dance of what he is doing in the world.
Sweet also uses the language of John 14, which describes Jesus as "the way, the truth, and the life". In doing so, he redeems the phrase from being a slogan to being a description of how we are to follow Jesus.
As always is the case with Sweet's book, I Am a Follower is filled with thoughtful fascinating quotes, and smart turns of phrase that can bring home his point in a sentence or two.
I love Sweet books. They serve a purpose. My only struggle with them is that I have read enough of them that they seem a little predictable and cheesy, both in their formatting and in the writing. I know Leonard Sweet is going to lean toward being a futurist, but he is going to do it in a very conservative, step by step way. His stuff is thought-provoking and easy to read. But, for me, at times, I am think, "Ok, I have gotten it, let's move on."
All in all, I think it would be a great book for a group of leaders to read and discuss.