Welcome to LeonardSweet.com

Author of more than two hundred articles, 1500+ published sermons, hundreds of YouTube vlogs and over seventy books, Leonard Sweet’s recent publications include Rings of Fire, Telos (with Len Wilson), Contextual Intelligence (with Michael Beck), and Designer Jesus (forthcoming fall 2023), the companion volume to Jesus Human. Sweet often appears on the “50 Most Influential Christians in America” listings, and in 2010 was selected by the top non-English Christian website Christian Telegraph as one of the “Top 10 Influential World Christians.” His semiotic “LenTalks” are posted weekly on YouTube, and his “Napkin Scribbles” podcasts can be accessed on leonardsweet.com or spotify. His Twitter and Facebook microblogs are widely read and quoted. Former President of United Theological Seminary, Vice-President of Graduate Studies at Drew University and Dean of Drew Seminary, Dr. Sweet now works with graduate students at four institutions: Drew University, where he has occupied the E. Stanley Jones Chair, George Fox University, Northwind Seminary, and Southeastern University. Beginning in his late 20s, Sweet has written a lectionary-based sermon every week for various preaching resources like Homiletics (11 years), preaching plus (six years), sermons.com (eight years). In 2015 he launched his own homiletics resource preachthestory.com. One of the most sought-after speakers in the religious world today, he and his family reside on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands, where they operate a retreat center (or “advance center”) called Sanctuary Seaside.

Book Leonard Sweet

2024 Water Advance

Our next Pacific Advance is 8, 9 March 2024! Katie Kresser is a professor of Art History at Seattle Pacific University. Originally from Indiana, she received her degrees from Indiana University (undergrad) and Harvard University (MA and PhD). Since middle school, Katie has been obsessed with how the aesthetics of a culture can reveal its underlying priorities. Her writing focuses on art theory – both the making side (the artist) and the reception side (the viewer). Her most recent book, Bezalel’s Body: The Death of God and the Birth of Art was featured in Christianity Today’s Books of the Year for 2020. Her current projects focus on “camp,” “sham,” cultural envy, folk art, and the possibility of universal beauty.

Semiotic preaching resources. 


Featured Book

Designer Jesus: The Lifestory of a Disciple

In Designer Jesus, Leonard Sweet illuminates the path of discipleship with a bold and vibrant brush, revealing a faith that is as fresh as it is ancient. From the opening declaration, “Jesus is your design for living,” Sweet jolts readers into a new understanding of what it means to follow Christ, rekindling the heart’s rhythm with a message that is both timeless and timely.

This inspiring book builds on Sweet’s earlier work, Jesus Human, (2023) by moving beyond belief (fides quae) to explore the active experience of faith (fides qua). Where Jesus Human forged the guardrails of faith, Designer Jesus traces the handrails of life. Sweet delves into the life of faith, guiding readers to paint their lifestories with the rich colors of faith, hope, and love. He draws from the deep wells of the past to make the ancient faith accessible and relevant to today’s readers. With wisdom, wit, and whimsy, Sweet shows how a discipleship designed by Jesus is both classic classy and contemporary chic, providing meaning and mooring to a world adrift and unhinged.

Sweet asserts that our identity is found not in doctrines, creeds, or labels, but in the risen, rising Christ and his Spirit. He emphasizes that following Jesus, even being “little Christs” (the literal meaning of “Christian”), is not about imitation or cloning, but about allowing Jesus to live his life through us, ultimately leading us to become our truest, most authentic selves.

Designer Jesus is more than a book. It is a starting point for a life-changing journey. For those seeking a Christianity that transcends mere belief and becomes a transfigurative lifestory, Designer Jesus readies you to live a designed life brimming with joy and passion. It not only inspires personal flourishing, but it also equips you to brighten the paths of others with their own lifestories.

Jesus Human: Primer for a Common Humanity

“What is human” is one of the contentious topics in the world today. We no longer know what a human is. Where once humans made machines, now machines make humans. And the machines humans do make are becoming our most preferred relationships.

In this pathbreaking and provocative book, Leonard Sweet contends it is our sacred duty to be human. Human identity is not who we have become but who we are created to be. Jesus Human explores how Jesus, in showing us the way to God, shows us the way to ourselves and the way to be human. All that it means to be human is here, in one person: Jesus, the greatest human, the most alive human, who ever lived. Learning to be a disciple of Jesus is learning to be a human being in a world that has been humaimed—our true identity has been amputated or disfigured.

In scintillating prose and from a vast panorama of reading, Sweet demonstrates how the Jesus story is about “being” human and “human” being—both of which follow from following Jesus. Jesus gives back to us our full humanity as part of the redemption of all creation. Jesus doesn’t help us rise above our humanity but enter our humanity. In short, discipleship formation or spiritual formation is really Christ formation or human formation.

Sweet insists you can’t be human without the divine, which makes the process of becoming human, or humanation, part of the Trinity’s ongoing incarnation as the Spirit brings Christ to life in each of us. There is no elixir that, when taken, transforms a person into a true human. But there is the Living Water of Life.

Telos: The Hope of Heaven Today

A better definition of God’s kingdom changes everything about how we live today – no matter what the future holds.

Welcome to a better way of looking at the end: as the culmination of God’s grand story. Jesus’ most important word in describing the end is the Greek word telos. Telos is the rhythm of human history; the presence of God; and the plot, purpose, and completion of the story. The end is the kingdom of God, and the kingdom is here and now.

Sweet and Wilson show how many of the political problems plaguing modern Christianity are rooted in bad theology. God’s kingdom is the present reality of the presence of God that gives us hope for today and tomorrow.

Red Skies

Our world is changing faster than ever. Digital culture is rapidly accelerating, climate change threatens the future of our planet, racial inequality looms large, sexuality norms are constantly shifting, and forced migration is increasing. Meanwhile, the church is rife with internal conflict and busies itself with growth strategies, running programs, and creating better worship services.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus told the religious leaders that although they could interpret the appearance of the sky, they didn’t know how to read the signs of the times. As twenty-first-century disciples and leaders, we must not make the same mistake. We need to understand our cultural red skies and see the coming changes because our response to the issues we face will determine the church’s position, posture, and practice for years to come.

With contributions from experts in their fields—including missiologists, pastors, ecclesiologists, entrepreneurs, and prophets—Red Skies explores some of the essential conversations the church must engage with now so we might overcome potential threats and look for opportunities to be good news to both our current and future world.

Contextual Intelligence

We live in a changed moment. We live in a charged moment. There is no more “Business as Usual” in any arena or activity. How do we navigate and negotiate this new world where God seems to be saying, “Behold I do a new thing. Do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19) 

Why are some institutions thriving while others are closing their doors, declaring bankruptcy, and throwing in the towel? Why are some churches missionally prospering while others are experiencing significant decline? 

The answer to these questions is an ancient secret, now unveiled afresh for mission on the front lines of a post-Covid world and lockdown generation. A distinct kind of intelligence possessed by the Tribe of Issachar is unveiled which recognizes that what worked in one season, in one location, doesn’t transfer to another. You will be called in this book to a new order the authors are calling The Issacharians, the tribe known for the ability to “read the signs of the times and know what to do.” They possessed a vital skill known as contextual intelligence.

In this groundbreaking book, you will explore the phenomenon of contextual intelligence and discover a framework for its cultivation and how you can apply it in your own circumstance.

Rings of Fire

Len Sweet once again maps the future for the church in this sweeping survey of the twenty-first century. In the face of eruptive and disruptive culture changes from economics and communications to bioethics and beyond, how do we fight fire with fire, not only catching up to our culture but leading our friends and neighbors toward the feet of Christ? No one has done more to startle the church from its slumber than Len Sweet, and no one has equipped the church as effectively. This will be a benchmark book from a seminal leader of the modern evangelical movement.

Jesus Speaks

Countless Christians today are hungry to hear God’s voice. The trouble is, many don’t know how. In a warm and practical way, Jesus Speaks teaches readers how to listen for the voice of Jesus. The bookexplores the various ways in which Christ speaks today and how His sheep can grow in their ability to recognize and respond to His voice daily.

The Bad Habits of Jesus

Jesus had a lot of habits that angered the authorities of his day. But those “bad” habits are actually the best habits we could adopt. Find out just how “bad” Jesus could be!

From Tablet to Table

What if the Bible were seen less as a tablet of ink than as a table of food? From Tablet to Table invites readers to explore the importance of The Table in biblical theology, and what it might mean for us to bring back the table to our homes, our churches, and our neighborhoods. The table pictures the grace of God’s provision for all aspects of our lives, a place of safe gathering, of finding identity in shared stories, of imparting food and faith, of playing host and finding satisfaction as a guest. Sweet explores how our failure to understand and appreciate “the most sacred item of furniture in every home” has created such a deficit in our fast-food, take-what-you-like-smorgasbord, together-but-separate society.

We Are the Church

We Are the Church bears witness to the mission and growth of the world church. Far from a dusty, theoretical treatise, We Are the Church is drenched in the sights and smells from the front lines and fox holes of mission. Filled with stories and testimonies from followers of Christ all over the world, each chapter is a living witness to how “the mission field has become a mission force” (J. Hudson Taylor IV). In the west, it seems the voice of revival is like the whistle of a train that stopped running years ago but which you think you sometimes hear faintly from the far side of the valley. In the east and south, the voice of revival is like a train coming out of a tunnel, hurtling down the tracks, coming at you with all its force and power, inviting you to climb aboard or get out of the way. You are invited now to get aboard this powerful, missional train and read firsthand the untold story of God’s global awakening.

Giving Blood

If the church wants to converse effectively with a culture, it must learn that culture’s language. Today, our culture thinks not in words but in images, stories, and metaphors. So what does this mean for preaching? In this ground-breaking resource, Sweet offers an alternative to the traditional models of preaching, one that is fitting to a new culture and new modes of thinking. This first book of its kind moves preaching beyond its pulpit-centric fixation and toward a more interactive, participatory mode of communication. Seeing the sermon as sacramental conversion experience, Sweet presents a challenge to a church struggling to maintain in an image based, media-saturated world.

Me and We

Me and We calls for a new social gospel in the world in which economies of division are replaced by economies of relationship. Using the examples of individualism, racism, and consumerism, Sweet calls Christians to rethink individual responsibility even as we live together in God’s “house and garden” communities, our churches, and the world. The book blesses the uniqueness of created persons, and yet shows how God’s plan for creation means that all unique individuals live together in harmony and symphony to the tune of the One God in all of our economies: money, politics, and church.

The Well Played Life

Do you secretly think that the harder you work, the more God is pleased with you? You can live like that—for a while. But imagine what it might mean instead to unclench your teeth, loosen your grip, and actually experience God’s pleasure in you—not just in everything you are doing for Him? The Well-Played Life is a journey of a life filled with richness, fruitfulness, and creativity of living in God’s pleasure. Renowned author Leonard Sweet explores what it means to please God in the nitty-gritty of life; how that changes from the time we are 5 to the time we are 50; and how in every age of our lives, in everything we do, we can experience God’s gift of play. The Well-Played Life offers a new spiritual direction of enjoying (and being enjoyed by) God. Discover how a Sabbath way of Christian joy is not only possible, but also how we were designed . . . and a core part of God’s plan for our lives.

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