“No church leader understands better how to navigate the seas of the 21st century.”
Len Sweet’s three-ring mission: as a historian of American culture; as a futurist/semiotician who "sees things the rest of us do not see, and dreams possibilities that are beyond most of our imagining;" and as a preacher and writer who communicates the gospel powerfully to a postmodem age by bridging the worlds of 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.
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 has been Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Theological School at Drew University for five years, Previous to Drew Len served for eleven years as President and Professor of Church History at United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio. Prior to 1985, Len was Provost of Colgate Rochester/Bexley Hall/Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. 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.
Author of more than two hundred articles, over twelve hundred published sermons, and dozens of books, Len is the primary contributor (along with his wife Karen Elizabeth Rennie) to the web-based preaching resource, sermons.com. For nine years he and his wife wrote Homiletics, which became under their watch the premier preaching resource in North America. In 2005 Len introduced the first open-source preaching resource on the Web, wikiletics.com.
SoulTsunami was the first in a trilogy of resources to help leaders come to terms with postmodern culture. The second installment on how to “do church,” AquaChurch, was published in 1999, and reissued in revised form in 2008 as AquaChurch 2.0. How to “do life” is the focus of the third volume, SoulSalsa: 17 Surprising Steps to Godly Living, which hit the bookstores at the same time an original theme song for the book “SoulSalsa” hit the charts (you had to be age six to like it). Each book in Len’s postmodern trilogy has its own website and multi-medial components, some of which have already received national awards.
In 2000 Len authored the first religion e-book on Amazon.com written as an e-book, The Dawn Mistaken for Dusk: If God So Loved the World, Why Can’t We? In the past two years, Len has published The Gospel According to Starbucks, The Three Hardest Words in the World to Get Right, The Church of the Perfect Storm, AquaChurch 2.0, and 11 Indispensable Relationships You Can’t Be Without. His newest book So Beautiful: God’s Design for Life and the Church will be quickly followed by Pay Attention: Every Bush is Burning in late 2009.
Founder and President of SpiritVenture Ministries (SVM), in 1995 Len launched Sweet's SoulCafe, a spirituality newsletter for postmoderns purchased by Broadman&Holman Publishing. His privately published notebook ChartNotes sold-out even before it was published. Current projects include a biography of Phoebe Palmer in the American religion biography series, a textbook on preaching entitled Giving Blood: The Art and Craft of Abductive Preaching, Followership: The Leadership Myth, The Coming 4 Horsemen, A Jesus Kind of Human, and Gridiron Gospel: A Theology of Football. Len is also working on his first novel (A Postmodern Pilgrim’s Progress), a multi-media leadership resource yet untitled, and writing projects with Frank Viola, Brian Ross, and Joe Myers.
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 is increasingly being asked to lecture around the world, and has spoken in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, England, Wales, South Africa, South Korea, Iceland, Scotland, and most recently, China, Indonesia, and Latvia.