The Foster Letter

Religious Market Update

The FOSTER Letter is a bi-weekly e-mail religious market intelligence report targeted to Christian market channel and ministry leaders.  Each issue reports on news, trends, events and research that will directly or indirectly impact your audiences and businesses in a convenient summary format  Better informed leaders make better choices!

Researched, Edited & Published by Gary D. Foster


Excerpts from the

April 10, 2018 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


Never Heard of the Great Commission 51% of U.S. churchgoers say they do not know the term “The Great Commission,” finds a recent Barna Study with Seed Company. Only 17% were actually familiar with the Matthew 28:18-20 passage known by this name. But the term “does ring a bell” for 25%. 6% of churchgoers are simply not sure whether they have heard the term before. Practicing Christians recognize the Great Commission at 4 times the rate of non-practicing churchgoers (25% vs. 6%). (Barna 3/27/18)


The Bible Has Been Removed from online marketplaces in China, as Beijing clamps down on how its citizens practice religion. China has always controlled sales of the Bible, only allowing it to be distributed and printed by state-sanctioned churches, but in recent years it had been available to buy online. Two online merchants told CNN customers they may still obtain copies from them through private messages, but public listing of the Bible is now impossible on Taobao. (CNN 4/5/18)


Broken Market Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean the market cares any longer. It’s extremely difficult to repair the market. It’s a lot easier to find a market that will respect and pay for the work you can do. If Wal-Mart or some cultural shift has turned what you do into a commodity, don’t argue. Find a new place before the competition does. It’s not easy or fair, but I can help. Call 419-238-4082, e-mail or visit (Seth Godin’s Blog 1/6/09)


More Women Than Men Attend Church A study by Pew Research shows that currently those who attend church at least once a week are composed of 43% men and 57% women. Of this group who attend church at least once a week, only 19% have never been married, 9% are widowed, and 12% are divorced or separated. The rest (60%) are married or cohabitating. Additionally, the single people at church are disproportionately represented by women. Single Adult Ministry cites 23% of single women attend church regularly vs. only 15% of single men. ( 3/9/18)


Masculinity Under Assault Dr. Jordan Peterson, author of the bestselling 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, claims there is a “directed policy” to emphasize that there is some-thing wrong with masculinity and it should be limited in “all sorts of arbitrary ways. The fact that male behavior is often diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder is a manifestation of that,” he said. 77% of U.S. suicide deaths are suffered by males and 7 million working-age American men are now unemployed. Sperm counts across the west have plummeted almost 60% since the early ’70s and scientists don’t know why. Men’s testosterone levels have also fallen precipitously. One study found the average levels of male testosterone dropped by 1% every year after ’87. Unrelated to age, the average 40-year-old-man in ’17 had testosterone levels 30% lower than the average 40-year-old man in ’87. Low testosterone in men is associated with depression, lethargy, weight gain and decreased cognitive ability. (LifeSite News 3/8/18)


Low Literacy Rates cost the U.S. at least $225 billion each year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment. (National Council for Adult Learning)


Americans Open to Counseling 42% of U.S. adults have seen a counselor at some point in their lives. 13% are currently seeing a counselor or therapist, while 28% have done so in the past. 36% are at least open to it, although 23% say they would never see a counselor. By all measures, Millennials and Gen X have more interest in counseling than Boomers and Elders. 21% of Millennials and 16% of Gen X are currently engaged in therapy vs. 8% of Boomers and 1% of Elders. Also, younger adults are more likely to say someone in their immediate family goes to counseling, particularly Gen X. 17% of adults say a family member is currently seeing a counselor. Generationally this includes 21% of Millennials, 24% of Gen X, 11% of Boomers and 5% of Elders. Among those who have seen a counselor, 39% were referred by a doctor, and 19% by a friend or family member. When asked which two attributes are most important to them in choosing a counselor, 46% said affordability and 42% specialization or expertise. (Barna 2/27/18)


Christian Asylum Seekers In ’17, Open Doors surveyed 123 Christian asylum seekers in Sweden. 53% of respondents reported they have been affected by violent assaults at least once, due to their Christian faith. 5% reported they have been threatened by death at least once and 6% have been a target of sexual assaults. (Christianity Today 3/14/18)


Divided Loyalties When megachurch participants were asked if they considered this church their “church home,” just 75% said this was their only home church. 11% didn’t consider this their home church (yet only 7% said they were visiting). 12% claimed the megachurch as “home” but said they also attended other churches as well. Therefore, almost a quarter of those in worship any weekend have divided loyalties to the church they are in. If attenders have a church home other than the one they attended for the survey or claim to have multiple homes, they are far less likely to attend, give, volunteer or invite others than do those who say this congregation is their only church home. Also, 45% say they never volunteer and 32% give nothing financially while 40% do not participate in any small group. (Harford Institute for Religion Research)


Puddle, Swamp, Ocean, or Well? When you’re thinking about developing a new product or ministry, it’s essential that you find out 2 things: 1) How widespread is the public’s interest in it? 2) How deep is that interest? If interest is not widespread and not very deep, you’re looking at a puddle. Never invest time or money in a puddle. If interest is widespread but not very deep, you’re looking at a swamp. Be careful of swamps, they look like oceans at first, because everyone is interested. Many have gone broke when what looked like a swamp turned out to be an ocean. If interest is wide and deep, you’re looking at an ocean. But you’re going to need a platform on which to navigate your ocean. If you don’t have a platform, you’ll drown and you’re going to need a plan or you’ll drift. If public interest is narrow but deep, you’ve got a well. Don’t underestimate it. You can draw a lot of water from a well. Are you in a puddle, a swamp, an ocean, or a well? I can objectively help you find out. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or (Monday Morning Memo 7/9/07)


American Book Reading About three-quarters (74%) of Americans have read a book in the past 12 months in any format, a figure that has remained largely unchanged since ’12, according to a Pew Research Center. Print books remain the most popular format for reading, with 67% having read a print book in the past year. 29% read books in digital formats (same as in recent prior years) and 18% listened to an audio book (vs. 14% in ’16). Overall, Americans read an average (mean) of 12 books per year, while the typical (median) American has read 4 books in the past 12 months, largely unchanged since ’11. (Pew Research Center 3/8/18)


Clash of Worldviews America is definitely in a time of agitation, desperately seeking resolution. Recent studies by the American Culture and Faith Institute have found 6 out of 10 Americans are angry about the state of the nation. 2 out of 3 contend the government cannot be trusted to do what is in the best interests of the country. 70% say government has too much control over our lives. Huge majorities of people argue that the United States is moving in the wrong direction on at least 3 important fronts: politically, morally, and culturally. (American Culture & Faith Institute 3/14/18)


What Americans Think of Sin According to LifeWay Research 67% of Americans confess to being a sinner. The rest don’t see themselves as sinners (8%), don’t think sin exists (10%), or preferred not to answer (15%). 5% don’t mind being one, while 34% say they are working on being less of a sinner and 28% are depending on Jesus to over-come their sin. More women (33%) than men (22%) say they depend on Jesus to overcome sin, as do more Protestants (49%) than Catholics (19%) and more evangelicals (72%) than non-evangelicals (19%). 51% of those who attend religious services at least monthly say they depend on Jesus, vs. 15% of those who go less frequently. A ’16 LifeWay study found 65% of Americans think everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature. Americans with evangelical beliefs were less likely to agree than those without evangelical beliefs (54% vs. 68%). 79% of those surveyed said people have the ability to turn to God on their own initiative while nearly the same number rejected the idea of a small sin deserving eternal damnation (74% disagreed, 62% strongly). 57% of Americans and 97% of evangelicals said it would be fair for God to show his wrath against sin. About the same number said there will be a time Jesus will return to judge all people (59% Americans vs. 96% evangelicals). ( 3/28/18)


Americans Are Becoming Less Empathetic. This is troubling because empathy is a cornerstone characteristic of a healthy society and the very marrow of Christian love. Alarmingly, incoming college students after ’00 were found to be up to 40% less empathetic than past generations. ( 2/23/18)


Hard Working Americans logged an average 1,783 hours of work in ’16. That's at least 100 more hours a year than the average worker in other OECD countries like the UK, France, Germany, or Sweden. (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)


Why Church Visitors Don’t Return According to Thom Rainer, “Churches perceive they are a friendly church because the members are friendly to one another. LifeWay Research asked visitors specifically why they did not return to a particular church. Here were their top 10 responses: 1. The stand-and-greet time in the worship service was unfriendly and awkward. 2. Unfriendly church members. 3. Unsafe and unclean children’s areas. 4. No place to get information on the church. 5. Bad church website. 6. Poor signage. 7. Insider church language. 8. Boring or bad church services. 9. Members telling guests they were in the wrong pew or chair. 10. Dirty facilities. (Becoming A Welcoming Church by Thom Rainer, 2018, B&H Publishing Group)


Reality Check Former CBA CEO Bill Anderson states, “It starts with the customer (or constituent). It ends with the customer (or constituent).  The fact is our competitors don’t put us out of business; our customers (or constituents) do. And they do it when we give them permission by not being their best preferred option.” Let me help make sure you are not inadvertently giving your customers or constituent’s permission to put you out of business or ministry. Contact 419-238-4082, or (CBA Resources+Retailers 1/08)


Religious People More Likely to be Married In the U.S., 48% of all American adults say they are married, according to the 2014 Religious Landscape Study. Much smaller shares of U.S. adults say they are living with a partner (7%), are divorced or separated (13%), or are widowed (7%). A quarter of Americans say they’ve never been married. In certain U.S. religious groups, a higher-than-average share of adults say they are married. For instance, 60% or more Mormons, members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are married. The same holds true for Hindus, Southern Baptists and members of the Episcopal Church. By contrast, 39% of atheists, agnostics and those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” and Buddhists are married. Catholics (52%) and Orthodox Christians (48%) have marriage rates comparable to the general population. (Pew Fact Tank 3/19/18)


Americans View of The Ten Commandments A new survey by YouGov and Deseret News found 94% of Americans and 99% of evangelicals believe the command-ment against murder remains significant. After murder, the commandments against stealing (99% of evangelicals vs. 94% of Americans), lying (99% of evangelicals vs. 91% of Americans), honoring parents (97% of evangelicals vs. 85% of Americans) and adultery (94% of evangelicals vs. 83% of Americans) were viewed as most important. (Christianity Today 3/28/18)


What’s Worrying Americans 55% of Americans worry “a great deal” about the availability and affordability of health-care, topping concerns about 14 other issues Gallup tested. Slim majorities also worry about crime and violence, federal spending and the budget deficit, and the availability of guns. Unemployment and affordable energy rank last. (Gallup 3/26/18)


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