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So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life and the Church [Paperback]

By Leonard Sweet (Author)
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Item description for So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life and the Church by Leonard Sweet...

In this seminal work, Sweet shares how three strands form the church: missional, relational, and incarnational. He calls for the re-union of these three essential, complementary components of Christian life.

Publishers Description

More than 50 years ago scientists made a remarkable discovery, proclaiming, "We have found the secret of life ... and it's so pretty " The secret was the discovery that life is helixical, two strands wound around a single axis--what most of us know today as the model for DNA.

Over the course of his ministry, author Leonard Sweet has discovered that this divine design also informs God's blueprint for the church. In this seminal work, he shares the woven strands that form the church: missional, relational, and incarnational. Sweet declares that this secret is not just pretty, but beautiful. In fact, "So Beautiful"

Using the poignant life of John Newton as a touchstone, Sweet calls for the re-union of these three essential, complementary strands of the Christian life. Far from a novel idea, Sweet shows how this structure is God's original intent, and shares the simply beautiful design for His church.

From Publishers Weekly
The prolific Sweetauthor of articles, sermons, booksturns his vast knowledge of culture and faith toward what he calls the secret of life: an MRI church where 'M' = Missional, 'R' = Relational, and 'I' = Incarnational. He digs deep into MRI theology, calling it the only theology worth bothering with and offering leaders and laypeople a new paradigm for bringing Christ to the world. Sweet outlines the characteristics of each element: missionalThe church is 'sent' to be Jesus; relationalBiblical truth... feasts on relationship and revelation; incarnationalThe Incarnational life strikes it rich by multiple connections with community and context. Readers will find much to ponder, but they'll have to wade through Sweet's metaphor-heavy, rambling and jumpy writing style, plus his confusing, frequent use of quotation marks around words and phrases as if tweaking their meaning. His vision for following Christ individually and as the church is commendable; his presentation, however, is confounding. (Apr.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: David C. Cook
Pages   304
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 6" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2009
Publisher   David C. Cook
ISBN  1434799794  
ISBN13  9781434799791  

Availability  0 units.

More About Leonard Sweet

Leonard Sweet Leonard Sweet is a scholar of USAmerican culture; a semiotician who "sees things the rest of us do not see, and dreams possibilities that are beyond most of our imagining;" and a preacher and best-selling author who communicates the gospel with a signature bridging of the worlds of faith, academe, and popular culture. In 2006 and 2007, Len was voted by his peers “One of the 50 Most Influential Christians in America” by ChurchReport Magazine, and in 2010, he was selected by the top non-English Christian website as one of the “Top 10 Influential Christians of 2010.” His popular podcast, “Napkin Scribbles,” is widely quoted, and his weekly sermon contributions to have made that site the top preaching resource for pastors in North America. For nine years, he and his wife wrote the entire content for the weekly preaching resource Homiletics. In 2005 Len introduced the first open-source preaching resource on the Web, Len’s microblogs on twitter and facebook rank as two of the most influential social media sites in the world. You can find some of Len’s talks on his youtube channel, Founder and President of SpiritVenture Ministries (SVM), in 1995 Len launched Sweet's SoulCafe, a spirituality newsletter purchased by Broadman&Holman Publishing. Len is a popular and highly sought-after speaker throughout North America and around the world. In the past couple of years he has spoken in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, England, Wales, South Africa, South Korea, Iceland, Scotland, and most recently, China, Indonesia, and Latvia.

Author of more than 200 hundred articles, 1300+ published sermons, and more than fifty books, Leonard Sweet’s publications include the best sellers Soul Tsunami, Aqua Church, Jesus Manifesto (with Frank Viola), and Jesus: A Theography (with Frank Viola), as well as many other volumes that are revolutionizing the church’s mission. Len released multiple books in 2012, including Viral: Why Social Media is Poised to Ignite Revival; What Matters Most; the e-book, Real Church in a Social Network World; I Am A Follower; The Greatest Story Never Told: Revive Us Again. In 2011 Len published his first novel, The Seraph Seal (co-authored with Lori Wagner) with an innovative website, Several more books are scheduled for release in 2013/14: the ground-breaking preaching textbook, Giving Blood: A Fresh New Paradigm for Preaching (Zondervan), The Well-Played Life (Tyndale), Me to We ( ), and a new way to tell the scriptures, My Story, My Song (with Byounho Zho). Len published the first religion e-book on amazon: The Dawn Mistaken for Dusk in 2000.

Currently the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University, Madison, NJ and a Visiting Distinguished Professor at George Fox University, Portland, Oregon, Len was Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Theological School at Drew University from 1995 to 2001. Previous to Drew, Len served for eleven years as President and Professor of Church History at United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio and is currently their President Emeritus. Prior to 1985, Len was Provost of Colgate Rochester/Bexley Hall/Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York when he was in his late 20s. Involved in leadership positions in the United Methodist Church, Len has been chosen to speak at various Jurisdictional and General Conferences as well as the 1996 World Methodist Congress in Rio de Janeiro. He also serves as a consultant to many of America's denominational leaders and agencies. He is a member of the West Virginia Annual Conference.

Leonard Sweet currently resides in Madison, in the state of New Jersey.

Leonard Sweet has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Emergent Ys (Paperback)
  2. Library of Living Faith

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Reviews - What do customers think about So Beautiful?

This Landmark Work is Both Timely and Timeless  Nov 28, 2009
It seems that books on the church are a dime a dozen these days. Everyone has a way of doing church, being the church, and leading the church.

So what makes this work by Leonard Sweet stand out?

It's like he intercepted the pass of our current church climate and went the other way for a score.

So Beautiful examines three strands that biblically make up the church: missional, relational, and incarnational.
As he describes it in the introduction:

"Missional is the mind of God. Mission is where God's head's at.
Relational is the heart of God. Relationship is where God's heart is.
Incarnational is the hands of God. Incarnation is what God's hands are up to.

A so-beautiful world requires a Trinitarian logic of thinking, loving, and doing." (pg. 29)

So Beautiful is a breath of fresh air. It's insightful, whimsical, and well-researched. In fact, there are 45 pages of notes at the end of the book yet you'd never know it. Sweet has a way of weaving in the thoughts of others with his own to describe what many of us have been sensing for sometime. That the church is more than an organization to be better run, but rather an organism who can better love.

This landmark book is both timely and timeless and is a must-read for all followers of Jesus wanting to live out what they believe.
Viewing MRIs from a Sweet perspective  Oct 31, 2009
Have you ever had an MRI exam? I have. As a radiographer (RT-R), I have studied about MRI machines, how they work,and what they show in the human body. But I had never thought about the MRI and the Christian life until reading Len Sweet's wonderful book, "So Beautiful". Sometime after reading the book, I read a comment about the power of magnets posted by LW on Dr. Sweet's Facebook page. Suddenly, I began to see. Cool! An MRI unit is, in part, a high powered magnet(Magnetic Resonance Imaging). The type of living that Len Sweet writes about in "So Beautiful" is MRI living : Missional, Relational, Incarnational. If we are in relationship with the Main Magnet (Christ said: "If I be lifted up I will DRAW all people to myself"), then we can assist the Main Magnet to do the type of work an MRI does - helping the sick and injured visualize the cause of pain or illness. Next we can be a part of the treatment team as we help bring each other to the Great Physician.

All of Dr.Sweet's books are filled with wordplay, metaphors, imagery and challenges that initiate "Ouch!", and "Hmm" and "Wow" from thoughtful readers. "So Beautiful", about the divine design for life and the church, has brought another word to mind for me: Alleluia!
Sweet or Not? Read the Book of Acts first.  Sep 2, 2009
So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life and the Church by Leonard Sweet comes with mixed emotions neither good or bad, just undecided.

To summarize the book with one quote from page 162, "When the one lung breathes in the Missional (God's Power) and the other lung breathes in Relational (God's Presence), the body comes alive and exhales the risen incarnate life of Christ."

Leonard paints a picture throughout the book of this DNA of MRI or Missional, Relational, and Incarnational. Nothing new, right?

Some think that this is a new way to look at the church or an old way recently discovered. Many people are searching for a meaningful body of Christ that not only worships on Sunday morning, but breathes with a mission, that extends to relational communities, and takes the message of Christ out into their everyday life or what Sweet calls MRI.

This is a very wordy book. I am not into repeating oneself. Sweet early on even mentions that if "you have not noticed I am saying the same thing in a different way (paraphrased)". One can simply turn to the book of Acts and read about this Missional, Relational, Incarnational way of the church. Sweet is humbly putting modern words into a language that some seem to have forgotten.

Keeping with the Sweet writing pattern he weaves multiple quotes throughout the book that unites everything together in a seamless manner. If you desire to have a renewed vision of the church reread Acts first and then read So Beautiful by Len Sweet. If you have not begin to ponder a deeper meaning for the body of Christ this may jump start your engine. Enjoy Len's words as he casts a vision that needs to be renewed for the body of Christ so others will begin to know, see, and hear that God is really among us (I Cor 14:25).
A Rich Read  Aug 21, 2009
Len Sweet offers his MRI church as a picture of what could be a church (and therefore Christ-followers) that is "So Beautiful."




From book jacket, "Sweet calls for the re-union of these three essential, complementary strands of the Christian life. Far from a novel idea, Sweet shows how this structure is God's original intent and shares the simply beautiful design for His church."

I "read" this book as an mp3 on my ipod. I like reading better since I like to re-read sentences I don't get the first time. It's just such a rich read that you can't just blow through it and expect to get the full impact. Maybe I'll listen to it again.
Absolutely Beautiful  Jul 1, 2009
This morning, I finished Leonard Sweet's new book, So Beautiful.

I'm still basking in the afterglow and the best words I can use to describe it is: "So Beautiful!!"

I've read several of Sweet's other books, and must say that this is the best by far. In a witty, candid, and thought-provoking style, Sweet grabs the reader immediately and doesn't let go until the last paragraph.

The basic premise of So Beautiful is that congregations need to re-think their values and priorities. The old APC approach: Attractional, Propositional, Colonial (or ABC: Attendance, Buildings, Cash) won't cut it for churches that desire to reach this present generation.

Instead of APC/ABC, Sweet suggests that followers of Christ, as individuals and congregations, capture an MRI ethos:
He then unpacks each of these concepts in detail. It's dynomite!

"Just as DNA's three strands make life possible, three other elements work in harmony to make life not just pretty, but beautiful. And it's in the church where we find the greatest expression, and ultimate fulfillment, of these three components to a beautiful life."

I found myself exclaiming, "Yes! Yes! That's what I want! That's IT! That's Absolutely Beautiful!"

One of the things I like best about Sweet's writing style is that he draws from a wide variety of sources, and packs each page full of pithy phrases, poetry, inspiring quotes, and engaging stories.

There's a ton of grist for the sermon mill! I must have written a dozen pages of notes in my journal -- which will certainly be processed and find their way into my blog, messages and other communications.

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