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Leonard Sweet Biography

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 he wrote for sermons.com for eight years. Now, he currently hosts his own preaching website, PreachTheStory.com. 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, wikiletics.com. 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, www.youtube.com/lenssweetspots. 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 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, www.seraphseal.com. 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.

Len has served a term on the council of the American Society of Church History, was an associate editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion for ten years, and is a member of numerous professional groups. An honors and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Richmond, he earned his Master of Divinity degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School and Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. The recent recipient of honorary doctorates from the University of Richmond (Virginia), Baker University (Kansas), Otterbein College (Ohio), Coe College (Iowa), and Lebanon Valley College (Pennsylvania), Len has held distinguished lectureships at various colleges, universities and seminaries, and has presented academic papers before major professional societies. He is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, state conventions, pastors’ schools, retreats.

Len resides on Orcas Island (Eastsound) in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State.

 

United Theological Seminary

In 1984 Dr. Leonard Sweet became President and Professor of Church History at United Theological Seminary, a former Evangelical United Brethren seminary founded in 1871 by Bishop Milton Wright, father of Orville and Wilbur Wright. Len was then the youngest seminary president in North America, and he served as President until 1993, when he became Chancellor and Professor of Church History, a position which he held until 1995. In 2008 the Board of Trustees of United Theological Seminary named Dr. Sweet “President Emeritus.”

 

George Fox University

In 2001 Dr. Sweet was invited to be a Distiniguished Visiting Professor at George Fox University, a school affiliated with the Quaker tradition and the Wesleyan Methodist movement. Len guest lectures periodically during the academic year, and assumes mentoring resposibilities for a select group of doctoral students from around the world who desire to move their ministries to the next level. Len is known for pioneering the use of Second Life as a platform for learning and faith development in this program.

 

Drew University

Leonard Sweet was appointed Dean of Drew Theological School and Vice President of Drew University by President Tom Kean in January of 1995, a position he held until 2001, when he became the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism as part of Drew’s partnership with the Foundation for Evangelism in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. Len studies with Drew M.Div. students. He also studies with Ph.D. students in history, evangelism and liturgical studies, as well as D.Min. students interested in future-fitting their ministries and churches.

 

Tabor College

In 2014 Dr. Sweet was appointed as the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Graduate Theological Education at Tabor College, a Kansas school connected with the Anabaptist tradition, where he interacts with students in the Entrepreneurial Ministry Leadership MA program.  This program is built around an online learning community that is seeking to reframe theological education and preparation by building educational and spiritual practices in person and online.

Dr. Sweet connects with students through the weekly “Guild” class and in various other capacities.