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 25, 2016 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update



Nondenominational Congregation Facts The Hartford Institute for Religion Research has gathered the following facts about nondenominational congregations. Among them: Sermons seldom focus on the end times or the Second Coming of Christ, though the churches tend to be evangelical, fundamentalist, charismatic, or Pentecostal in orientation; nearly half belong to a network, fellowship, or association; 75% of the clergy have at least a 4-year secular college degree; 43% had a seminary degree. There are over 35,000 independent or nondenominational churches in the U.S. representing more than 12.2 million adherents. As of ‛10, 4% of Americans worshipped in a nondenominational church. If the nation’s independent and nondenominational churches were combined into a single group they would represent the third largest cluster of congregations in the country.  (Insights into Religion 8/11/16)


Work Martyrs 48% of U.S. Millennials want to be seen as a work martyr finds a recent Project Time Off report. Work Martyrs are defined as those employees who believe skipping vacation shows their dedication to their job. They are worried that, by taking time off, they will be viewed as replaceable, and they feel guilty for taking time out. The research found work martyrs are overwhelmingly Millennials (43%) vs. just 29% of all workers. 48% of Millennials think it is a good thing to be seen as a work martyr by their boss, far outpacing the average (39%) and well ahead of Boomers (32%). (BizReport 8/`19/16)


Church Board From recent research, ECFA has identified 6 top characteristics that seemed to point to a healthy board: Board members are chosen by someone other than the lead pastor. Policies are in place (and the board has the ability) to ask an underperforming staff member to resign. The board is able to challenge and correct a lead pastor when necessary. An active strategic planning process is in place. Time and energy are devoted to assessing risks and opportunities. The board guides the staff with strategic (but not tactical) input. (CT Gleanings 8/2/16)


Politics in the Pulpit A new Pew Research Center survey finds 40% of Americans reported attending religious services at least once or twice in the few months before the poll was conducted. Within this group, 64% say they heard clergy at their church or other place of worship speak about at least 1 of the 6 social and political issues mentioned in the survey, with 46% indicating religious leaders had spoken out on multiple issues. 14% heard their clergy speak directly in support of or against a specific presidential candidate. 30% heard clergy speak out in defense of religious liberty. 22% say they have heard religious leaders speak out against abortion. 20% have heard about the need to be welcoming and supportive toward immigrants. 16% have heard a message favor protecting the environment. 20% have heard their clergy speak out against homosexuality, but 12% say their clergy urged acceptance of gays and lesbians, and an additional 7% say they heard both types of messages. More than 75% say their clergy discussed social and political issues only sometimes, rarely or never. 32% say their clergy encouraged them to vote in a primary or participate in a caucus, and 40% have been encouraging congregants to vote in the general election for president. (Pew Research Center 3/8/16)


Do the Right Thing While CVS general merchandise sales fell 5% in ‛15 thanks to the pharmacy chain’s decision to ban nicotine products; the positive attention generated helped push pharmacy services revenues up 13.5%. What kind of ‘doing the right thing’ change should you make in your business or ministry?  Perhaps I can help. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or ( 7/6/16)


What Fathers Do Research over the last 5 decades has been showing how important fathers are to healthy child development. According to ScienceDaily, fathers “play a surprisingly large role in their children’s development, from language and cognitive growth in toddlerhood to social skills” up to 5th grade. A different study found father’s mental health had a greater effect on the healthy development of his children in the elementary years than did mother’s mental health, stressing the importance of both family and the community to invest in emotional and psychological well-being of all dads. They play in irreplaceable role in raising strong, healthy, productive boys and girls. (Thriving Pastor Pulse Check 8/8/16)


The National Health Interview Survey has found gays, lesbians and bisexuals have significantly greater health problems than heterosexuals. 69,000 adult homosexual participants “were more likely to report impaired physical and mental health, heavy alcohol consumption, and heavy cigarette use.” Lesbians also were significantly more likely to experience psychological distress than female heterosexuals (28% vs. 22%). Homosexual men reported psychological distress in much greater numbers than heterosexual men (26% vs. 16%). Bisexuals reported even worse health, with bisexual women having more than double the percentage of multiple chronic conditions and more than twice the percentage of psychological distress as female heterosexuals (22% vs. 46%). Bisexual men also suffer more than twice as much from psychological distress than heterosexual men (17% vs. 40%). JAMA editor Dr. Mitchell H. Katz noted. “Sexual orientation has an influential effect on several aspects of health. Psychological distress was more common among gay men, bisexual men, and bisexual women than heterosexuals. There was more cigarette smoking and greater alcohol use among lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals than heterosexuals.” (LifeSite News 6/30/16)


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Muslims Refugees Dominate The U.S. has received 28,957 Muslim refugees so far in fiscal year ‛16, or nearly half (46%) of the more than 63,000 refugees who have entered the country since the fiscal year began 10/1/15, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data. That means that already this year the U.S. has admitted the highest number of Muslim refugees of any year since ‛02. Christians are the second-largest group of refugees to the U.S. so far this fiscal year accounting for 27,556 or 44% of total refugees admitted. Refugees make up about 10% of the roughly 1 million immigrants granted lawful permanent residency in the U.S. each year. (Pew Fact Tank 8/16/16)


The Pulpit Wage Penalty U.S. Protestant Clergy working as chaplains, teachers, and administrators or in other non-church settings make 19% more than their peers working in congregations, according to a recent Lily Endowment study. (CT Gleanings 8/10/16)


Infidelity According to new research from Paul Hemez at the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State Univ., since the early ‛70s, U.S. adults have generally become more disapproving of infidelity (with disapproval increasing by 20% between ‛73 to ‛08 when 84% agreed it’s “always wrong” for a married person to have sexual relations with someone other than their spouse). However, in 2014, the proportion of Americans who agreed extramarital sexual relations are “always wrong” declined to 79% Researchers attribute the decline to Millennials more permissive attitudes about infidelity. (Institute for Family Studies 8/4/16)


Millennials More Abstinent The number of young adults born in the ‛90s who report they are not having sex is more than twice as high as it was for the Baby Boomer generation. According to new Barna Research data, 15% of Millennials 20-24 said they had not had sex since age 18 vs. 6% of those born in the late ‛60s, 11% of those born in the ‛70s or 12% of those born in the ‛80s. The finding dovetails with CDC figures showing a majority of teens are choosing not to have sex. Only 41% of high school students reported sexual activity, a 13-point drop since ‛91. The most common reasons young people reported for delaying sex were personal values and a focus on attaining their goals. (LifeSite News 8/3/16)


The American College of Pediatricians has released a research paper citing scientific evidence that permitting gender-confused adolescents to impersonate the opposite sex through surgery or hormone therapy is harmful. “There is a serious ethical problem with allowing irreversible, life-changing procedures to be performed on minors who are too young to give valid consent themselves; adolescents cannot understand the magnitude of such decisions.” (Baptist Press 8/5/16)


Judges Out of Touch Although around half of Americans still call themselves “pro-choice,” 78% support substantial restrictions on abortion. It turns out not all Americans who call themselves “pro-choice” take the extreme position (as has the Supreme Court) that abortion should be legal at any time for any reason. In fact, an astonishing 62% of those who identify as “pro-choice” believe abortion should be banned after the first trimester! Also, over 60% of Americans oppose taxpayer funding for abortions, and 80% want abortion clinics held to the same standard as other outpatient surgery centers. This study clearly shows how profoundly out of touch many of our judges and lawmakers are with the American public. Also, contrary to what the mainline media tells us, abortion laws in the U. S. are some of the most liberal in the world! (LifeSite News 8/4/16)


Readers Live Longer According to The New York Times while reporting on research featured in the Social Science & Medicine journal, when compared with those who did not read books, those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17% less likely to die during 12 years of follow-up, and those who read more than that were 23% less likely to die over the same 12 year period. Book readers lived an average of almost 2 years longer than those who did not read at all. They found a similar association among those who read newspapers and periodicals, but it was weaker. (Galley Cat 8/5/16)


The Important Question during a downturn isn’t whether or not the economy will recover. It will; it always does. What’s important to ask is whether your organization will be in position to surge as the economy does grow. It won’t be marketing as usual. You will need to make strategic decisions about choosing new media, entering new markets and positioning products. Now is the time to establish marketing plans for the recovery: formulate strategies, design campaigns, make media choices so you are ready to go when you have marketing funds to invest. I can help you. Call me at 419-238-4082, or (Performance Insider 10/15/09)


Higher Wages Do Not Equal Happiness When it comes to being happy at work, more money isn’t the answer finds a new EventBoard survey. More than half of Americans making less than $75,000/year are ‘happy/very happy’ with their work while fewer than half of those $75,000+/year agreed. American workers commonly feel their boss doesn’t care about their workplace happiness while research has shown happier workers are more productive. What makes employees unhappy? 60% say meetings that run long cause conflict at work and 41% miss meetings ‘somewhat often’ because of scheduling or other conflicts. What could make employees happier? For most it would be keeping meetings to time and 41% would like to see better conflict resolution. (BizReport 8/10/16)


Polarized In the US, 55% of Democrats and 58% of Republicans have ‘very unfavorable’ views of the other party. Making the US more politically polarized than it's been for 25 years. ( 8/3/16)


Are the Young More Liberal? According to a ‛10 study from the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, 55% of young (ages 18-29) evangelicals identify with the Republican Party, 24% as Independent, and 20% with the Democratic Party. 63% of old evangelicals identify with the Republican Party, 15% as Independent, and 22% with the Democratic Party. Among self-identified young non-evangelicals, 21% identify with the Republican Party, 26% as Independent, and 54% with the Democratic Party. 32% of old non-evangelicals identify with the Republican Party, 24% as Independent, and 43% with the Democratic Party. 70% of young evangelicals identify as “Conservative,” 19% as “Moderate,” and 12% as “Liberal”. 74% of old evangelicals identify as “Conservative,” 19% as “Moderate,” and 8% as “Liberal”. (The Exchange 8/10/16)


A Place Of Their Own Living in a parsonage next to the church used to be the norm for Protestant clergy. In ‛76, 61% lived in church housing vs. just 14% in ‛13. (CT Gleanings 8/10/16)


We Still Read Print Magazines According to a new survey by Mequoda, the American Magazine Reader Study & Handbook,” 70% of adults in the U.S. read a print magazine in the last 30 days, and 51% read at least two. In what may come as something of a surprise, those figures are almost completely flat compared to the same study last year, in which 70% of respondents also reported having read a print magazine in the past month. At the same time, 41% read at least one digital magazine vs. 37% a year ago. (Heard on the Web Media Intelligence 8/16/16)


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