I just finished reading Real Church in a Social-Network World: From Facebook to Face-to-Face Faith by Leonard Sweet, and I have got to say, I was amazed by the amount of energy, conviction, logic, passion and encouragement could be packed into such a small book. At only 101 pages total, less than 70 pages are dedicated to the title, the rest being title pages, notes, and a preview to an upcoming book titled Viral by the same author.
To tell you the truth, when I saw the cover & read the title, I wasn't expecting much. I know, I know the old saying, but, we all still form first impressions, right? I got the book late at night and figured I would just read the introduction before heading to bed. I read straight through chapter one, and had I gotten the book earlier in the day, I most certainly would have read it all in one sitting.
This book is not a brief overview of what church's can learn from social media to enhance the ability to reach and connect their audiences, it is a vibrant and clear message that challenges the reader to step up and step out, resuscitating anyone who may fall into the category of a pew-warmer, Christian offering lip-service only, or "self-proclaimed" yet fruitless believers in a set of doctrinal statements. Sweet writes, "To become a Christian is not to adopt a different belief system. To become a Christian is to experience a transformation into the image of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit," driving his point home with, "Admitting without committing is useless." Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes (not sure of the origin): "There are three kinds of people, those who don't go to church, those who go to church, and those who are the church." Sweet points out differences between those who merely believe, and those who have an active faith in a tactful, yet concise way which causes the reader to reflect and encourages the reader to grow.
If you're thinking I recommend this book because it appears the author and I share some similar religious viewpoints, you may be partially correct. Naturally, I wouldn't give such a glowing review if I absolutely disagreed with the basis of his beliefs, since the book is about Christianity after all. However, I must take a moment to praise Sweet's ability to write in and of itself. His writing is easy to read, flows smoothly and draws you in. It has been a long time since I've read a book that was so good it was suspenseful not in content but in the fact that you couldn't wait to get to the next sentence. I literally found myself smiling, nodding my head, and even letting out a little giggle of excited agreement while reading this book. Mind you, I typically do not "interact" with books in such a way, I am a very skeptical and critical reader, particularly when concerning religious topics.
I'm not going to give an overview of the content of the book, I'm going to flatly tell you it is WORTH the read despite the title and any preconceived notion about it. In the interest of full-disclosure, I want to state that I did receive a copy of this ebook free of charge for the purpose of review. I also want to tell you that I will be looking to purchase a copy in paper because I enjoyed it that much.