As Up-To-Date As Tomorrow
Two weeks ago, I was privileged to attend a seminar for CEOs and business leaders at the Hope Center in Plano, taught by highly successful businessmen from the C12 Group, a national organization dedicated to equipping business owners and CEOs to advance in their businesses, while growing in their own spiritual lives and those of their employees.
The theme of the seminar being "Developing a Strategic Plan for Ministry," a major focus of the presenters was on the need to plan and work both strategically and intentionally. The discussion reminded me of the intentionality of the Apostle Paul. In all of his journeys he travelled to the great metropolitan centers of influence of the first century, the centers of commerce, religion, education, philosophy and government.
At the C12 Seminar, I was struck anew with how critically important it is today for the Body of Christ to think strategically about how to fulfill the admonition of II Corinthians 10:5 to bring down strongholds set up against the knowledge of God. What are the most strategic places of ministry? Where are the strongholds? What is the mission field that we should enter first, the place of great potential harvest but too few workers? Would you think this through with us?
Though our hearts ache for, and a number of us may be called to minister directly to, suffering people in remote places, if we are going to think strategically, let us emulate the example of Paul and pursue with insight, might, passion, and intentionality the most critical mission field of our day: the mindset of the thoughtful young and their worldview struggles.
Origins: On-ramps to Worldviews
Once a young person accepts a view of origins, he or she is driven by the sheer force of logic, to an entire suite of interrelated beliefs about reality, assumptions that he may rarely question and that shape his conscience, morality, and life decisions. We know as a given that the view our kids are taught in school is the view that humankind and all of creation are the products of purely material forces. We know too that the impact of this view on our nation's institutions, traditions, and families has been so pervasive, our grandparents and great-grandparents would not recognize today's world. This is why FTE is committed to making available to young people what is now the soundest and most intellectually tenable alternative to Darwinism in the scientific community, intelligent design.
With Young Church-goers, Can You Spell D-i-s-e-n-g-a-g-e-m-e-n-t?)
Studies show that the demographics watched by evangelical church leadership in preparing teenagers for their 20s and 30s — those that pastors, deacons, elders, and other church leaders pay attention to — are the attendance of these teenagers in their own church services and youth groups. A 2006 study by the Barna Group found that "six out of ten twentysomethings were involved in a church during their teen years, but have failed to translate that into active spirituality during their early adulthood."
Commenting on an additional study they published in 2010, Barna Group president David Kinnaman explained that the decline of interest often goes unnoticed by church leaders because the most visible activities — teen church attendance and youth group involvement — have not changed much in recent years.
But after high school, they are leaving in droves. In his book, Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith, author Drew Dyke takes a hard look at the disturbing fact that many if not most 18-29 year-olds are abandoning the church. Although he subtitles his book "and How to Bring Them Back," he acknowledges that many will never return.
(Even in missionary-sending South Korea, where, say close friends, "the church is strongest in all of North East Asia," four decades of church growth has been reversed and, in the past two years, "the percentage of the population as church members has gone from 32 to 24 to 18. The challenge is reaching the youth who have become very secular, digitally connected, and materialistic.") This is why we must equip young people for the aggressively secular worldview into which they are deeply and often irretrievably plunged upon leaving the cocoon of their church youth peer group and beginning a career path or college studies.
FTE's Books Are Timeless — they have no "sell by dates"
And thus serious, appealing, and powerful books on the key topics confronting this generation are vital to the future. Topics that are timeless. Topics that don't change from month to month or even year to year. Topics like those treated in the science- and culture-impacting books you've seen here in the past. Standout examples include FTE's first and now out-of-print book, The Mystery of Life's Origin (by Thaxton, Bradley and Olsen), which had a profound influence on origin-of-life studies and biology textbooks--an influence Darwinists don't care to discuss; and The Nature of Nature, the ID blockbuster introduced in our last newsletter.
Because of their long shelf-life, these are the topics FTE has chosen for its publishing agenda. And further, because the specific view of biological origins serves as the on-ramp to virtually all the significant worldview forces shaping our culture, the debate over origins will continue to be a priority topic for FTE. How best to engage young people and enter into their thinking will continue to be the focus of how we market our books.
Years ago, the "Pepper . . . and Salt" cartoon in the Wall Street Journal pictured a little old man reciting: "Tempus Fugits, I've said in the past; I just never knew it could fugit so fast!" Though our book topics and our mission are timeless, the business model that underlies them must be as up-to-date as tomorrow. At this moment we stand on the threshold of a significant expansion in FTE's publishing and distribution programs thanks to the opportunities presented by the market for digital publishing.
In disproportionately large numbers, young people are buying eBooks and the computer tablets and hand-held devices where they can most conveniently be read. The May 2011 issue of Consumer Reports quotes a Forrester Research forecast predicting that by the end of this year, 26 million adults will own tablets. Digital Daily repeats Apple's claim that they expect to sell as many as 45 million of the iPad tablet in 2011, and with Motorola's Xoom and several other tablets in the race, it is easy to anticipate that young people will be the largest market for tablets for some time to come.
To harness this burgeoning market, we are pursuing multiple digital platforms. These include Amazon's Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Zinio reader (NOVO Ink), and Logos Bible Software (Bible.org). We have signed a contract with NOVO Ink, an eNewstand whose registered customer base numbers approximately 8 million, and have arrived at a firm agreement with Logos Bible Software, which has a customer base of just under 1 million. The IT technologist who provides support for Logos Bible Software will be doing the same for us. Through our business partner, ISI, our book How to Be an Intellectually Fulfilled Atheist (or Not) is already on the B&N Nook and Amazon's Kindle.
FTE's eBook listings will include several of our own titles, as well as selected outstanding books by other publishers through limited distribution contracts. Presently we are discussing the acquisition of distribution rights for two more outstanding books with their publishers. Page design and functionality will be of a quality comparable to that enjoyed by readers of Logos Bible Software. This includes bookmarking one's reading progress, highlighting passages, adding comments, emailing excerpts to friends via social media, and more.
Additionally, both NOVO Ink and Logos Bible Software have free apps for iPhone and iPad users, and, as you can imagine, the fierce competition in ePublishing means the availability of these products and innovations will continue to expand.
Your Help Will Make a Great Difference
To capitalize on this enormous digital market, we must create an all new high quality website by the end of August to display and sell both our paper books and eBooks. This project, acquiring rights to additional books and entering new marketing channels, will cost money. But good, low-cost books in a bigger yet more focused market will more than support the effort. Please watch for an expanded FTE budget in the fall. And please don't forget FTE now, when so much important preparation must take place.
Would you go forward with us? We need your help at this critical juncture in reaching the greatest mission field of our time. Thank you for your strategic partnership with us!
Because He lives,
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