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It all begins with God’s word:
6 billion copies: estimated total sales of the Bible
There are 6,800 + languages in the world; the complete Bible has been translated into 438 languages. Some portions of the scripture have been translated into 2,454 languages.
Contrary to popular belief, modern inspirational fiction did not begin with Janette Oke or even Frank Peretti.
1678: John Bunyan wrote the influential Pilgrim’s Progress.
1852: The most potent work challenging American slavery was Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
1880: An overtly Christian novel, Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur was published, and later made into an Oscar-winning movie.
1897: Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps reached huge audiences.
Sales of modern-day Christian products (books, recordings, movies, shirts) through all distribution channels are valued at more than $4.63 billion.
The icons of inspirational writing:
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe sold 85 million copies; The Chronicles of Narnia series of 7 books has sold 120 million (and counting)
Fact: C.S. Lewis kept famous literary company. Was close friends with J. R. R. Tolkein. Tolkein and Lewis were part of an Oxford literary group called the Inklings, who encouraged the writing of fantasy.
Influenced: Pope John Paul II said that Lewis’ The Four Loves was one of his favorite books. Another fan? J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame.
Curious fact: Lewis died Nov. 22, 1963, the same day John F. Kennedy was assassinated
Billy Graham (1918- ): 31 books have sold more than 12 million copies
Fact: about Graham: How to Be Born Again” (1977) had the largest first printing in publishing history with 800,000 copies; “Angels: God’s Secret Agents” (1975) sold one million copies within 90 days; and “The Jesus Generation” (1971) sold 200,000 copies in the first two weeks.Influenced: Spiritual advisor to every American president since Dwight Eisenhower
Fact: The 94-year-old Graham has preached the Gospel to nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories around the globe, not counting those he’s reached through television.
Jeanette Oke (1935- ), often referred to as the founder of women’s romantic inspirational fiction.
Fact: Has written 70 books, sold more than 22 million copies. Her first book, “Love Comes Softly,” sold a million copies, spawned a series of books and a series of TV movies based on the books. Best known for: The Love Comes Softly series Influenced: Everyone from Beverly Lewis (Amish fiction) to a slew of other modern Christian fiction writers, see below.
From the icons came: A second generation of superstar religious writers, including:
Frank Peretti: Has been called America’s hottest Christian writer. 15 million copies sold of his books. Best known for his novels “This Present Darkness”(1986), and “The Oath”(1995).
Beverly Lewis: author of more than 100 books for children, youth and adults; more than 1 million copies sold. Fact: Created a new genre: Amish romance fiction. Best known for: The Redemption of Sarah Cain, The Shunning. The Shunning sold more than 125,000 copies in its first year and has since been made into both a stage musical and a Hallmark Movie Channel feature. It also launched a new genre, and there are at least 39 women and men now regularly writing Amish fiction.
Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, Left Behind series about the “end days” told in 16 books, 85 million sold. Fact: Timothy F. LaHaye is an American conservative evangelical Christian minister
Watchman Nee: 1 million copies of “The Normal Christian Life” sold.
Fact: Widely hailed as a top classic, the “Normal Christian Life” shows from the Bible what the “normal,” or healthy, Christian life looks like, and how it’s possible to live such a normal life in Christ today. Nee was a Christian teacher that worked in China in the first portion of the 20th century. He published many Christian books. Ultimately with the rise of Communism Nee faced persecution and spent his last 20 years in prison.
Francine Rivers: Has written more than 40 books over the last 30 years. Books have sold more than 3.5 million copies.
…and these writers gave rise to: a new wave of modern, mega-selling inspirational writers
Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 32 million copies
FACT: Founder and Senior Pastor at Saddleback Church, the 8th largest in the USA. Best known for his best selling books,“The Purpose Driven Church,” the biggest selling Christian book of all time The Purpose Driven Life
Joel Osteen, more than 20 million books sold
Osteen preached his first sermon Jan. 17, 1999. Now he is the Pastor of Lakewood Church, which according to Church Growth Today is America’s largest and fastest growing church.
250,000: The number of weekly visits to JoelOsteen.com
10 million: How many U.S. households see the TV broadcast each week
2 million: The number of audio and video podcast downloads each week
23: The number of languages Osteen’s books have been translated into
5: The number of books Osteen has written, all No. 1 national bestsellers
1.4 million: The number of Twitter followers @joelosteen
10 million: How many copies Osteen’s books have sold worldwide
Max Lucado, 75 books, 65 million sold Fact: He is Minister of Preaching at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, and has been called “America’s Pastor.”
William P. Young, The Shack 18 million Fact: Paul Young was working three jobs outside Portland, Ore., when he decided to write a Christian tale of redemption for friends and family. He went down to an Office Depot and printed off 15 copies of the story he called The Shack.
Philip Yancey: 14 million books sold. The American Christian author won “Christian Book of the Year” award in ’96 for “The Jesus I Never Knew” and again in ’98 for “What’s So Amazing About Grace.”
James Dobson: 16 million books sold. Founder and former CEO of “Focus On The Family” ministry and foundation. He has written some popular books like “Bringing Up Boys”, “Bringing Up Girls”, and “The Strong Willed Child.” Dobson is a central figure in conservative Christianity. His radio and TV broadcasts are heard or seen by 28 million people a week
Sarah Young: A missionary who primarily writes devotional works. Some of her titles include “Jesus Lives: Seeing His Love in Your Life”, “Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence”, and “Jesus Calling: A 365 Day Journaling Devotional.” Jesus Calling has sold more than 3 million copies.
Rob Bell: Former mega-Church pastor (and rebel priest who dresses in black), whose first four books have sold nearly a million copies. Best known for “Velvet Elvis” and “Love Wins.”
Andrew Greeley: Roman Catholic priest, Father Greeley wrote more than 120 books, fiction and non-fiction.
The new generation of fiction writers
Ted Dekker: Edgy fiction and science fiction books have sold more than 5 million copies.
The top “bonnet” (Amish) book authors (the literary daughters of Beverly Lewis):
Susan Woods Fisher
And then we have Christian comics:
Graphic novels: Babylon, the story of Daniel strikingly captured by Kingstone Comics.
The Action Bible
www.bookreporter.com [for Ted Dekker]
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