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, 2018 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


The Bible Positively Impacts Spiritual Growth 56% of monthly Bible users report reading the Bible has resulted in a self-perceived willingness to engage in their faith more, 54% claim it helps them to show more loving behavior toward others. 42% of Bible users say they are more generous with their time, energy or financial resources. 57% contend that 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. (Barna Update 7/10/18)


The Prosperity Gospel Creep 33% of Protestant U.S. churchgoers say their congregation teaches God will bless them if they donate money. 66% say God wants them to prosper and 20% say they have to do something for God to receive material blessings in return, finds a new LifeWay Research study. Researchers found 38% of Protestant churchgoers agree with the statement, “My church teaches that if I give more money to my church and charities, God will bless me in return.” 57% disagree, including 40% who strongly disagree while 5% aren’t sure. Pentecostal and Assemblies of God churchgoers (53%) are most likely to agree. Churchgoers with evangelical beliefs (41%) are more likely to agree than those without evangelical beliefs (35%). African-American (51%) and Hispanic churchgoers (43%) are more likely to agree than white churchgoers (32%). 69% of churchgoers agree with the statement, “God wants me to prosper financially” while 20% disagree and 10% aren’t sure. Among those who attend church at least once a week, 71% say God wants them to prosper financially vs. 56% of those who go to church once or twice a month. Churchgoers who have evangelical beliefs (75%) are more likely to agree God wants them to prosper than those without evangelical beliefs (63%). Pentecostal and Assemblies of God (80%), Baptist (74%), non-denominational (67%) and Methodist churchgoers (65%) are among the most likely to agree vs. just 49% of Lutherans. (Facts & Trends 7/31/18)


Strategy Required A chaotic, external world requires internal cohesion and flexibility. To ensure internal flexibility, a strategy must engage every part of the system. Are your strategies in place? If not, call me at 419-238-4082, or (Strategy for Sustainability, Adam Werbach, Harvard Business Press, 2009)


Slavery Not Just an Issue of The Past The most recent research conservatively estimates 40.3 million people are enslaved on any given day. The estimates are unable to account for individuals trafficked for the purpose of organ removal and sale. Nor can experts accurately estimate the number of children enslaved and used as soldiers in armed conflicts. The Global Slavery Index found almost 25 million people were in forced labor in ’16, while 15.4 million were in a forced marriage. Women and girls make up 71% of modern slaves. Much of slavery today is concentrated in Africa, along with Asia and the Pacific. (Facts & Trends 7/26/18)


Pregnancy Loss happens to as many as 1 in 5 pregnant women before the 12th week. In a new study analyzing the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, Ball State Univ.’s sociologist Richard Petts says religion can be an important resource for those coping with loss, including the death of a child. Levels of mental health were 6% higher among frequent religious service attenders than infrequent attenders who had a miscarriage but have never had a live birth. For women with high religious participation it was 8% percent higher. Though, the report doesn’t distinguish religious affiliation, 86 percent of those surveyed identified as Christians. (CT Online 8/9/180)


Increased Teenage Narcissism Studies show there has been a 30% increase (in the last 30 years) in teenage narcissism. More kids today think they are more awesome than everyone else. Many struggle with narcissism because they are constantly faced with social media, reality TV and technology that tells them they are stars and entitled to do and say whatever they want. “Children aged 9 to 11 now hold “fame” as their No. 1 value. Fame ranked 15th in 1997,” reports Journal of Psychology Research on Cyberspace. So how can youth workers address this narcissistic problem among our youth? •Show them how to have empathy for others. •More teens need to hear more adults talk about kindness, manners, integrity, humility, commitment and thankfulness. •Make entitled teens do difficult, labor intensive work. •Teach on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5.3-12). •Invite teens to talk about why and what they are grateful for. One of the best ways to combat entitlement is getting students to share what they already have and what they take for granted. Expressing gratitude is the opposite of being entitled. Gratitude forces teens to reflect on what they already have vs. what they “deserve.” (Church Leaders 7/25/18)


Why Women Leave Church LifeWay’s Thom Rainer offers these 6 reasons why women may be leaving your church: 1. Overworked. She has trouble saying no when asked to do something in the church. Leaders pile on so much, the only way to get relief was to leave the church. 2. Not valued. She doesn’t think her church leaders value women. Their roles and opportunities are very limited, so they search for a church where their gifts are appreciated. 3. Relationally hurt. She felt ignored by a group of ladies in her church that did everything together. 4. Lack of quality childcare. The preaching is great and the people are friendly but the childcare was unclean and unsafe. 5. Busyness. She works full-time and has 4 kids at home. So many responsibilities make it tough to give even more of her time to the church. 6. Husband does not attend. It’s tough coming to church without her husband. It leaves her solely responsible to get her kids to church and because the church has groups for married adults and single adults she feels out of place.  (Thom Rainer 7/13/18)


How Does McDonald’s Keep Besting Itself? By getting the basics right! They are very focused on keeping their franchisees happy, using their marketing muscle, utilizing new products, keeping more stores open 24 hours. It’s a bunch of small things. The difference between good and excellent is how you execute the details. An operations audit of your business or ministry can uncover those “difference-making” details that can take you to the next level. Contact or or call 419-238-4082. (Marketing Daily 3/10/08)


Pastors Encounter Mental Illness Approximately 75% of  U.S. pastors said they knew at least one family member, friend or congregant who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, finds a recent LifeWay Research study. 74% knew someone diagnosed with clinical depression. 57% knew at least 3 people who fell into that category. 59% had counseled at least one person who was eventually diagnosed with an acute mental illness. Perhaps even more important, 23% had personally battled a mental illness of some kind, include-ing 12% for whom it was formally diagnosed. Pastors indicated they wanted to help and believed the Church should be a resource. 74% disagreed with the notion they were reluctant to become involved with those suffering from acute mental illness (41% strongly disagreed). 90% believed the Church has a moral and spiritual responsibility to provide resources and support to those with mental illness and their families. (Christian Counseling Today, Vol. 21, No. 2)


Why Nones are Religiously Unaffiliated Pew Research recently polled a representative sample of “nones” why they choose not to identify with a religion. 60% say the question-ing of religious teachings is a very important reason for their lack of affiliation. 49% cited opposition to the positions taken by churches on social and political issues. 41% dislike religious organizations, 37% don’t believe in God, 36% consider religion irrelevant to them and 34% dislike religious leaders. 89% of self-described atheists say their lack of belief in God is a very important reason for their religious identity, compared with 37% of agnostics and 21% of those in the “nothing in particular” category. Atheists also are more likely than other “nones” to say religion is simply “irrelevant” to them (63% of atheists vs. 40% of agnostics and 26% of adults with no particular religion). (Pew Fact Tank 8/8/18)


Women Who Have Heart Attacks may face a greater risk of death when treated by male doctors in emergency rooms, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 88% of people who have heart attacks live through the initial event, say researchers. But this study found female heart-attack patients cared for by female ER doctors were 2 to 3 times more likely to survive than those cared for by male doctors. The researchers say male doctors may have difficulty communicating effectively with female patients and seeing things through their eyes.

(Consumer Reports 8/6/18)


International Students Staying Longer Pew Research Center reports that from ’08 to ’16, foreign student graduates in the federal Optional Practical Training program (OPT) increased by 400% among science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates and 49% among non-STEM grads. And while growth slowed from ’16 to ’17, the number still increased. The point? International graduates are staying longer in the U.S., which gives the church more opportunities to build relationships and share the gospel with this specific community. (Facts & Trends 8/8/18)


1 in 4 Young Adults Use Marijuana While 13% of Americans overall (15% for men and 11% for women) say they “regularly” or “occasionally” use or smoke marijuana, the rate among those 18 to 29 is 24%. 20% of U.S. adults  in the West  do so vs. 10% in the Midwest, 11% in the South and 12% in the East. (Gallup 8/15/18)


Parents Help Teens Develop Lifelong Faith A new Barna study found 97% of engaged Christian parents say it’s important to them that their teen develops a faith that lasts into their adulthood. 92% also say the same about their teen being equipped to explain the Christian faith and 93% say it’s important their teen engages in service while 87% say the same about having a consistent quiet time. And 59% say as parents, they have the primary responsibility in instilling these in their teen. 89% do this through attending church together, 59% pray together, 45% read or discuss the Bible together while 44% volunteer or serve in a ministry together (Facts & Trends 8/15/18)


Assist For consumers; time, convenience, control and independence are the new currencies. This need requires B2C brands to turn many of their ‘campaigns’ (if not all interactions with their customers) into broader services. In short, it shows a shift from ‘broadcasting’ to ‘assisting.’ I can coach you and your team through this strategic brand-building effort. Contact me at, or 419-238-4082. (Trend Briefing 4/10)


The Push A study published by American Academy of Pediatrics earlier this year shows nearly 3% of 13 to 17-year-olds identify as transgender vs. less than 1% just a year ago. The push for acceptance of transgender people can be traced in part to vocal homosexual activists who demand “tolerance” and denounce “transphobia” from the public, even to the point of debating biology and chromosomes and stating that people are “assigned” their sex at birth. There is also an effort to downplay or ignore mental health issues, such as a staggering 40% suicide rate among transgenders by blaming that statistic on a disapproving public. (One News Now 8/14/18)


Why We Don’t Have Spiritual Conversations Most who don’t talk much about faith fall into 2 broad categories: avoidance and ambivalence. The top two avoidant responses are: “Religious conversations always seem to create tension or arguments” (28%) and “I’m put off by how religion has been politicized” (17%). The top 2 ambivalence responses are: “I’m not religious and don’t care about these kinds of topics” (23%) and “I don’t feel like I know enough to talk about religious or spiritual topics” (17%). Millennials are the most likely to feel afraid people will see them as a fanatic or extremist (10% vs. 3% Gen X, 4% Boomers, 1% Elders).

 (Barna 8/14/18) 

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