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Our friend Larry Osborne thinks a new study that shows a decreasing number of people who identify as “Protestant Christians” could actually be a good thing.  Here’s why:
  • Cultural Christianity has never done anything to advance the kingdom. It only inoculates against the real thing. When large numbers of nominal and cultural Christians wave the banner of Christ, it confuses the message of the gospel. But now that they have ditched the title, it opens the door for genuine disciples to get the word out without all the confusion.
  • Despite the drop in the number of people who chose the label “Christian” the actual number of people who identified as evangelical and attend church continues to increase (even among those under 30).  In other words, the nominals have fallen off, but they were never aboard. And the number of committed Christ followers has increased.
  • The decrease in the number of people who call themselves “Christian” also shows the folly of messing with God’s Word in an attempt to make it more palatable. The drop in self-identified Christians is roughly equal to the drop in self-identified mainline Protestants. That’s right. The churches that left scripture and orthodoxy in an attempt to be culturally relevant, have become culturally irrelevant. Those who try to improve upon God’s Word or bring a new gospel have always done so at their peril. Jesus said he would build his church, not ours.
You can read more of Larry’s thoughts here… What do YOU think?
 Todd
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The 2013 Exponential conference is underway. This year, Exponential expects more than 5,000 church planting leaders to come together in Orlando, April 22-25. The conference will focus on the theme DiscipleShift—five shifts we can make to become better at making and releasing disciples. To help inform the conversation, Exponential announced that it will be creating an expanding library of eBooks for church planters focusing on discipleship. And here’s the best part–these eBooks are FREE! From September to April, a different eBook from key national church leaders will release each week. Exponential hopes to extend the 2013 conference from three days to eight months, says Exponential Futurist Todd Wilson, who has led the creation of the new eBooks series, identifying and inviting national church leaders like Dave FergusonLarry OsborneRandy FrazeeAlan HirschMike BreenGreg NettleGeoff SurrattMatt Carter and more than 20 others to contribute. Each eBook will be one to three chapters in length (approximately 10,000 words), focusing on a single topic or idea and offering content to readers in a digestible format that affords greater potential for planters to quickly put into practice the concepts or principles they’ve just read. For Randy Frazee, senior minister at Oak Hills Christian Church in San Antonio, Texas, and a Main Stage speaker at Exponential 2013, the turnaround time and length appealed to him when Wilson contacted him about writing an eBook. Frazee’s title is scheduled to release Oct. 8. In it, he’ll explore four things the church did during the first 350 years that enabled it to reach 56.5 percent of the world—and what it might look like if today’s church rediscovered these action items. “When Todd approached me about this opportunity, I jumped on it,” Frazee says. “I knew I had something I wanted to say to add to the ongoing conversation about the church, leadership and the importance of discipleship and community. To do that through traditional publishing, the process would take a year. My eBook will be out in two months.” Frazee’s eBook will be 10,000 words he says, pointing out that the average book is around 60,000 words—a length not easy to write or read. “I have a hunch that many people today are just not finishing the average book. I write with the hope that many more people will have access to this little book because it’s free and actually read it because it isn’t so long and then hopefully get something out of it that they will apply to make their lives better or further the advancement of Christ’s church. This is the ultimate payday for a writer, isn’t it?” The eBooks in the Exponential Resources Series will be distributed via Exponential.org and will be offered in three formats: PDF for universal use; mobi for Kindle; and ePub for iPhone, iPad and other platforms. Under the innovative distribution paradigm, authors serve as sole publisher and owner of the content. “Our approach is ‘You can do it, how can we help?’” Wilson explains. “We strive to come alongside thought leaders and help accelerate the distribution and impact of their content, while at the same time accomplishing Exponential’s core mission.” In addition to content ownership, the innovative approach will also feature several other author benefits: · Innovative “sponsored” funding Authors in the Exponential Resources Series have the option to engage a new funding approach. Using this model, the author secures three to five sponsorships to fund the project, allowing it to be distributed at no cost. As soon as the 10,000-word eBook is complete, sponsors fund the author. From start to finish, an eBook can be completed in one to two months, including the sponsored funding. · Visibility/exposure Exponential plans to work with authors to increase visibility through its various communication channels, events and respected platform. · Resource portfolios Typically, digital resources are shorter and focus on a single topic or idea. Rather than single books, Exponential is encouraging authors to consider developing “portfolios” of resources (i.e., a 10,000-word eBook; an audio version of the eBook; a series of YouTube videos on the eBook’s topic; a podcast series on the topic; an ancillary primer or action guide, etc.). · Group resource portfolios Networks, denominations and service providers can create their own portfolios or libraries of resources that Exponential will dynamically display on demand, enabling any group to include a single link to a page of that organization’s recommended resources. · Exponential Resources Series imprint Resources in the Signature Book Series and Exponential Resource Series carry an Exponential imprint. In addition to the Exponential Resource Series imprint, authors can place one additional imprint (for their own brand or ministry) on their resource. To receive alerts when new releases are available, go to exponential.org. This year, Exponential is April 22-25. If you’re thinking about or planning to attend the conference, the deadline is coming up to get the best rate possible–$99 registrant/$49 spouse. After Sept. 7, the rate goes up. So you might want to register in the next week or so. To register, go here.
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