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

August 10, 2018 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


Are You a Great Listener? According to the marriage health app Lasting, 48.9% U.S. men agree that they are great listeners, 51.0% of men do not agree, 33.2% women agree, 66.8% women do not agree, 30.0% with kids agree, 70.0% with kids don’t agree, 45.7% without kids agree while 54.3% without kids don’t agree. ( 6/28/18)


Christian Gen Z Open with Parents 49% of engaged Christian teens agree “I can share my honest questions, struggles and doubts with my parents,” far more than any other faith segment. These conversations include Christian perspectives on current events and biblical perspectives on sexuality and marriage. Fewer than half, however, have ever discussed (among other topics) healthy media consumption or the relationship between science and the Bible; two subjects certainly at daily issue in their teens’ lives. Fewer than 25% of engaged parents have talked about integrating faith and career, even fewer have talked with their teen about discerning God’s will in their choice of college, areas of utmost concern to teens. 20% of parents do not feel prepared to address “tough” questions about Christianity, God or the Bible and 14% feel unprepared to talk about the foundational beliefs of Christianity. (Barna Update 7/17/18)


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Will Gen-Z Reverse the Church Attendance Decline? British researchers found 18-24 year-olds are the most likely generation to agree they have had a positive experience of Christians and Christianity (51%), are the most likely to report they go to church (33%) and also feel comfortable discussing their religious beliefs with people at work (62%). Conversely, they are also the most likely to report being an atheist or non-religious is ‘more normal.’ (Church Leaders 7/13/18)


Youth Group’s Role in Worship and Fellowship 75% of engaged Christian parents say their teen attends a youth program at church at least once a month and 65% attend weekly or more often. According to parents whose teens attend monthly, the programs have a few strengths in common. Providing a place for teens to worship together (42%) and creating a place for teens to develop positive peer relationships (34%) rank at the top, with “providing a place for teens to ask serious questions about the Bible or foundational Christian beliefs” (23%) at the bottom of the list. However, youth program weaknesses include helping teens determine their career/vocation (34%), equipping them to talk about their faith with people who do not share their beliefs (16%) and facilitating a consistent small group/Bible study for their teen (14%). Yet, according to youth pastors, one of the most significant factors affecting teens’ experience of youth group is actually their parents’ faith engagement (or lack thereof). (Barna Update 7/17/18)


Boomers Becoming More Involved in Church One of the most significant longitudinal studies ever done (Longitud-inal Study of Generations) provides a treasure trove of data for church leaders. Among the latest findings: 1 in 5 boomers have increased their religious and church activity in the past few years. Also, 20% (19 million people) are becoming more receptive to faith and church. The study cited 3 major reasons for this shift: 1. They have more time and want to use it pursuing a more meaningful life, including church. 2. They are becoming more aware of the brevity of life and are seeking answers to questions they had not previously asked. 3. They are more aware of the fragility of life and don’t have the young and healthy bodies they once had. This is driving them to find more meaning in the lives. (Thom Rainer 7/16/18)


Dads Needed A government summary of studies on parenting concluded “children who live with their fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, to avoid drugs, violence and delinquent behavior.” Yet government policy simultaneously dis-courages fatherhood. Welfare programs give more money to households in which the father is absent. Even now, although teen birth rates are down, the percentage of kids who don’t live with fathers is up. (John Stossel, Rasmussen Report 7/11/18)


Inviting Friends to Church 64% of Protestant churchgoers say they’ve invited at least one person to visit their church in the past 6 months, finds a new LifeWay Research study. When asked, 17% say they extended 1 invitation, 21% two invitations, 25% three or more and 29% didn’t invite anyone. The practice varies by geographic location: 42% of church-goers in the Northeast hadn’t invited anyone vs. 37% of Midwesterners, 24% of Southerners and 26% of Westerners. 71% of Assemblies of God churchgoers or other Pentecostal churches and 69% of non-denominational churchgoers are more likely to say they’ve invited at least one person to church vs. 55% of Lutherans and 53% of Methodists. 27% of people who attend church at least once a week had invited 3 or more people vs. 10% of those who attended once or twice a month. (LifeWay Research 7/12/18)


Referability According to Dan Sullivan, who teaches good habits to entrepreneurs in his Strategic Coach program, the best marketing strategy in the world is to be referable. All referability depends upon 4 habits. Although the best entrepreneurs and ministry leaders are involved in diverse kinds of businesses, have very different kinds of clients and constituents and utilize a wide variety of specialized skills and resources. They are all referable for the same reasons. Referability, in all places and at all times, depends upon 4 crucial habits: (1) Show up on time. (2) Do what you say. (3) Finish what you start. (4) Say please and thank you. Although these seem like common sense, a surprising number of people do not practice them. As a result, these individuals are not referable. They may have brains, talent, charm, and experience, but they continually find their clients and customers do not refer them. In contrast, those who practice these 4 habits always get referred into bigger and better opportunities. Need referability audit? Contact, or 419-238-4082. (Bob Buford Active Energy 2/21/08)


Importance of Bible Tied to Transformation A recent Barna Research survey found one of the greatest impacts of reading the Bible is that 58% believe it has transformed their lives. 53% of city dwellers and 49% of small town or rural residents report higher use of the Bible than do adults who reside in the suburbs (42%). Above-average use can also be found among residents of the South (55%), followed by the Northeast (42%), the West (44%) and the Midwest (49%).  

Bottom of Form

By age, Boomers used the Bible the most (51%) and Millennials the least (47%). In the middle were Gen X (45%) and Elders (48%). (Church Leaders 7/16/18)


Half of Americans Use Their Bibles at least 3 to 4 times a year finds a new Barna study. 13% pick up their Bibles several times a week and use it for instruction and in their prayer times. Those figures have remained steady since ’11. 66% express at least some curiosity to know more about what the Bible says and 63% are interested in knowing more about who Jesus is. 53% of adults who used the Bible in the past week say they give a lot of thought to how it might apply to their lives. The majority use what they learn to grow spiritually. 56% of monthly Bible users report “reading the Bible has resulted in a self-perceived willingness to engage in their faith more and 54% to show more loving behavior toward others.” 42% of Bible users report they are “more generous with their time, energy or financial resources” as a result of their time with the Scriptures. 57% contend when they use the Bible, they have a greater awareness of how much they need God all of the time. 48% experience a curiosity to know God better and 47% consistently experience a sense of connection with God. (Church Leaders 7/16/18)


Social Security Age Adjustment The earliest age Social Security full retirement benefits is 66 and 2 months for those who reached their 62nd birthday in ’17. For those who turned 62 in ’18, it rises to 66 and 4 months. The SSA will continue to add 2 months per year to the full retirement age until reaching the goal of 67 as full retirement age. (Beacon Associates 7/31/18)


Same Sex Violence Nearly half of the men in same-sex relationships have been abused by their partner in some way, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Men's Health. The study found that among 160 homosexual male couples, 46% of the men reported “some form of intimate partner abuse” in just the past year, HealthDay News reports. The abuse took forms such as physical violence, sexual violence, emotional abuse and controlling behavior. The latest findings are consistent with a ’15 CDC survey which found 26% of homosexual men, 37% of bisexual men, 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. (LifeSite News 7/16/18)


Most U.S. Churchgoers Travel Abroad 62% of U.S. churchgoers have traveled outside the country in their lifetime. 40% of those travelers went abroad more than a year ago and 22% made such a journey within the past year. However, 38% have never traveled outside the U.S. Among those who have been outside the U.S., the most common length of travel for a single trip is between 1 or 2 weeks (34%). The length of time a churchgoer has spent abroad goes up with age, income and education. Millennial churchgoers are significantly more likely to have traveled recently outside the U.S. than any other generation, with Gen X being the least likely to have ever left the country.  (Barna Update 7/24/18)


Deaths from Crashes Involving Large Trucks have been rising in the U.S. In ’16, more than 4,300 people were killed, up 5.4% from ’15, according to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. (Consumer Reports 6/28/18)


Disastrous Unintended Consequence It is estimated 45.8 million people alive today are enslaved. But a new Human Rights Outlook report suggests the number is about to get a lot bigger thanks to the onset of robot manufacturing. It suggests automation will result in drastic job losses, especially in South East Asia. Displaced workers without the skills to adapt or the cushion of social security will have to compete for a diminishing supply of low-paid, low-skilled work in what will likely be an increasingly exploitative environment. Some studies say global human trafficking is at a historic high point. UNICEF estimates there are more than 21 million victims of human trafficking worldwide as part of a $32 billion industry. 5.5 million of these 21 million victims of human trafficking are children. ( 7/19/18)


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Welcoming Church Guests A new LifeWay Research study finds the average pastor says their church does 6 different things to welcome guests. 96% provide an opportunity to meet the pastor and 95% have greeters at their entrance. 83% ask guests to complete cards, 78% have a central location where guests can learn about the church, 69% set aside time during the service for regular attenders to welcome guests and 65% periodically host information sessions for new people. 44% say their church has books in the pew for all attenders to indicate their presence, 24% have greeters in the parking lot and 17% ask guests to stand in the worship service. 42% say they offer a gift to visitors and of those who do so, the most popular are a mug or cup (38%), food (25%), a church welcome packet (25%) or a pen (23%). (Facts & Trends 3/14/18)


Blacks Most Religious Millennials Although U.S. Millennials continue to be less religious, black Millennials are no exception. That said, black Millennials are considerably more religious than others in their generation, finds a new Pew Research Center analysis. 61% of black Millennials say they pray at least daily, significantly higher than the 39% of nonblack Millennials. 38% of black Millennials say they attend religious services at least weekly vs. just 25% of other Millennials. 64% of black Millennials are highly religious on a 4-item scale of religious commitment (belief in God, self-described importance of religion, prayer and worship attendance) vs. 39% of nonblack Millennials. At the same time, black Millennials are substantially less religious than older black adults by these measures. (Pew Fact Tank 7/20/189


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