Get off my Back, Leonard Sweet, I am trying to get some work done here!

Play? How dare my friend, Len Sweet, suggest I interrupt my lifelong commitment to workaholism and please God with play. I’m too busy working for God to play with God. Fortunately that is exactly what Len Sweet does for me and every reader in his new book The Well Played LIfe: Why Pleasing God Doesn’t Have To Be Such Hard Work.

Well Played LifeHe immediately shows he is not a fan of the Protestant work ethic when he declares that “after five hundred years, the Protestant work ethic has not made us better disciples, only weary and cranky human beings.” [2] But he suggests an alternative when he later says, “If humanity needed Protestantism to show it how to work, humanity now needs Godplay to teach it how to play.” [21]

He starts in on people like me immediately in his acknowledgements with statements like, “the quality of life depends on the quality of our play.” [vii] Is it O.K. if I work at play? Colleagues throughout my ministry have observed that I dedicate time to play because I place it on my “To Do” list. Does that count? Perhaps not if the point is to experience playful joy in relationship with God.

I am not sure, however, but I think Len has gone from preaching to meddling when he suggests, “when faith becomes all about beliefs and works instead of relationships, then what we’re really in love with is our own thoughts and opinions and doings–not an image of God, but an image of ourselves.” [43]

I suspect Roger Von Oech, the creativity expert, would be pleased with Len’s thought in the introduction that “play is oxygen for the imagination, which sparks creativity, which ignites innovation, which combusts in paradigm shifts.”  [6] Yes, play gets us outside the box we often construct around our lives. It allows us to see things from a different perspective. It can deepen our relationship with the Triune God.

One very helpful part of the book is Len’s designation of three ages of life: First Age (0-30), Second Age (30-60), and Third Age (60-90+). I will confess these helpful understandings of playing during the ages of life took me immediately to work. I am developing an understanding of The Church@50+ that focuses on Empty Nesters and Senior Adults. Len’s thoughts about ages further stimulated my creative juices.

Another idea I plan to poach is Len’s implied perspective that the church needs a Sabbath observance rather than a Sunday observance. This is an alternative way to deal with the diminishing focus among Christians on Sunday worship. I plan to try my hand at writing on this.

I will get around to pursuing these ideas later after I go out into the garden for some Godplay. In the meantime, thank you, Len. I needed the message of this book. I suspect many of you reading this review need it also.

George Bullard

Author's Website
About the Author
George is President of The Columbia Partnership at, This is a Christian ministry organization that seeks to transform the North American Church for vital and vibrant ministry. It primarily does this through the FaithSoaring Churches Learning Community. See George is the author of three books: Pursuing the Full Kingdom Potential of Your Congregation, Every Congregation Needs a Little Conflict, and FaithSoaring Churches. George is also General Secretary [executive coordinator] of the North American Baptist Fellowship at This is one of the six regions of the Baptist World Alliance. George holds is Senior Editor of TCP Books at More than 30 books have been published on congregational leadership issues.

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  • dkzody

    There is a diminishing focus among Christians on Sunday worship because Sunday worship has so drastically changed in the past 5 years. I wish to pray and worship on Sunday morning, not be blasted with secular-sounding music and pop culture teaching. I like your The Church@50 concept. Maybe that’s why I’m having trouble with today’s Sunday morning worship techniques.