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

December 25, 2018 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update



Social Media Depression Spending too much time on sites like Facebook is making people more than just miserable. It may also be making them depressed. A new Univ. of Pennsylvania study shows, for the first time, a causal link between time spent on social media and depression and loneliness. Researchers concluded those who drastically cut back their use of sites like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat often saw a marked improvement in their mood and in how they felt about their lives. (Market Watch 11/18/18)


Salvation 62% of Americans agree Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of sin from their lives while 38% disagree. 57% say only those who trust in Jesus alone as Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation and 47% disagree. Those who identify with an evangelical (88%) or black Protestant (83%) denomination are more likely to agree than mainline Protestants (65%) and Catholics (58%). 53% believe righteousness comes only through faith in Jesus Christ not because of one’s actions, 33% disagree while 14% aren’t sure. (2018 State of Theology Study)


Christians Mostly Give to Church or Missions 91% of practicing Christians have given money to church. Also, sizeable majorities give to missions (75%), local organizations that take care of people in need (70%) and directly to individuals who require assistance (64%). In all categories, practicing Christians out give their non-practicing peers and they are 14 percentage points more likely to donate to organizations that address issues overseas. (Barna Research 11/27/18)


Faith Remains Important to Americans A new Rasmussen Reports survey finds 71% of U.S. Adults say their religious faith is at least somewhat important in their daily life, including 47% who say it’s very important. Just 27% say it does not play an important role in their life while 15% say it is not at all important. (Rasmussen Report 12/17/18)


Spanking is a Valid Option “Young children need correction and at times, punishment from their parents to learn appropriate behavior and self-control, key ingredients for their future success in life. For the more defiant and contrary young child, timeout and reasoning do not consistently work,” claims the American College of Pediatricians. “Compared to other corrective measures, using spanking to enforce milder tactics has been shown to result in less defiance and less aggression than 77% of alternative measures (including timeout) with these children. As recently conceded by an AAP statement authors, over 70% of parents today agree that ‘spanking is at times necessary in the discipline of young children.’” (LifeSite News 11/8/18)


Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” He also said. “The problems you face can’t be solved by the same level of thinking that created the problems.” I can bring you fresh thinking that will lead to new solutions that deliver new results. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or (IvySeaZine 5/20/08)


Families with 2 parents working outside the home are common today. In fact, among married-couple families with children, 61.9% have both parents employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Link-Up Job Service 11/8/18)


Sexual Brokenness 70% of U.S. pastors are approached by church members or staff several times a year or more with concerns about sexual brokenness, according to a new report from The Brushfires Foundation. 80% say they were approached in the past year by a church or staff member dealing with infidelity, and 73% have handled pornography-related questions. A majority of pastors believe the church should be responsible for helping people deal with issues relating to sexual sin or sexual brokenness. Yet, fewer than one-third of pastors feel “very qualified” to address most of the issues listed in the survey. (Facts & Trends 11/15/18)


Living Together has become more popular than marriage for young U.S. couples, claims Census Bureau data. 15% of people 25-34 shared quarters with an unmarried partner this year vs. just 12% in ’08. The percentage of married 18-34s in fell from 59% in 1978 to 29% in ’18. Among 18-24s cohabit-tation is more prevalent today than marriage with 9% living with an unmarried partner vs. 7% with a spouse. 50 years ago, only 0.1% of people 18-24 and 0.2% of those 25-34 lived with an unmarried partner. However, 40% of young married couples have a household income of $40K or more vs. just 20% of unmarried couples. (Bloomberg 11/17/18)


Worship Almost 6 in 10 Americans see valid alternatives to worshiping in a church with other believers and more than a third say worship services should be entertaining if churches want to be effective. 58% of Americans agree that worshiping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church while 30% disagree and 12% aren’t sure. 54% of evangelicals disagree. 37% of Americans say churches must provide entertaining worship services if they want to be effective, 51% disagree. Americans 18-34 are the most likely to agree (46%) while evangelicals are the most likely to disagree (61%). (LifeWay Research 10/17/18)


Who is Not in Church? According to the Pew Research Center, 1 in 4 Americans are nones or claim no religious affiliation. 43% are women and 57% are men. 21% have a household income of $100,000 or more, 26% $50,000 to $99,000, 20% $30,000 to $49,000 and 33% less than $30,000. 68% are white, 13% Latino, 9% Black, 5% Asian and 4% other. 11% hold a post-graduate degree, 18% a college degree, 32% some college and 38% high school education or less. (Pew Research Center)


Be Merciless As you begin to plot out next year, be brutally honest. Its time to admit that spin-off will never turn the corner, that launch was badly executed or that tired title or ministry is too weak to stand on its own. It’s ok for products and projects to have natural life cycles; they’re not all meant to live forever. The reinvention of business and ministry models for the biggest winners with real potential requires focus: of resources, brains and cash. Side projects and money-losers are distractions you can’t afford. Investment in new ideas is crucial. I can help you put aside emotional blindness and make the hard calls. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or


Fewer Young People Having Sex The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that the percentage of high-school students who’d had inter-course has gone down from 54 to 40% from ’91 to ’17. Also, the number of young adults in their 20s who are having sex has gone down, noting that “fewer people have been marrying and those who do have been marrying later.” While no one has a definitive answer for the decline, many professionals see cultural changes such as the “hookup culture,” crushing economic pressures, rising anxiety rates, widespread antidepressant use and streaming TV among other things as reasons for the decline. Others are saying young people are simply more interested in academic and professional success than sex. ( 11/16/18)


Spiritual Conversations Most U.S. adults, Christian or not, prefer their conversation partners on spiritual matters are close friends or family members. 61% of practicing Christians, 55% of non-practicing Christians and 55% of non-Christians choose “a friend” as the person they most want to talk with about faith. Barna researchers found Eager Conversationalists (Christians who have had 10 more conversations about faith in the past year) seem to be more open and interested in turning ordinary encounters into spiritual conversations. ( 11/20/18)


Sweeter as the Years Go By A 35 year long-term study by the Univ. of California at Berkeley shows couples married at least 35 years criticize one another less frequently and show more affection and humor in stressful situations. As husbands and wives age, their negativity towards one another fades. Those married longer than 35 years showed more tenderness than younger couples. Couples, regardless of satisfaction in the relationship, demonstrated more positive emotional behaviors as they aged and fewer negative ones. In particular, the spouses exhibited more humor and affection and cut back on the amount of criticism and defensiveness they showed during the earlier portion of the study. (Emotion 11/29/18)


More Millennial Evangelicals According to Ligonier Ministries recent State of Theology research project, revealed the percentage of Millennials rose from 14% in ’16 to 18% in ’18. Also, the survey results included percentages of millennials who agree with the following statements: “Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.” 62% agree vs. 53% in ’16. “There will be a time when Jesus Christ returns to judge all the people who have lived.” 64% agree, up from 55%. “The Bible, like all sacred writings, contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but is not literally true.” 53% agree, up from 46%. “God is unconcerned with my day-to-day decisions.” 36% agree, up from 30%. “Abortion is a sin.” 57% agree, up from 50%. “Sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin.” 54% agree, up from 47%. (Alex McFarland 11/26/18)


Too Much Christmas Cheer The average American consumes double the amount of alcoholic drinks over the holidays than any other time of year, finds a new OnePoll study. The average respondent drinks 4 alcoholic drinks per week but see those double to 8 from Thanksgiving to the New Year. The average American will attend 3 times more social functions and parties as well. Also, the average American spends $241 every month on social events such as drinks, dinners out and parties. But during the holiday season, it skyrockets to $537. This uptick in socializing leads to 3 alcohol-induced hangover mornings per week during the holiday social season resulting in being late to work 3 times and or calling in sick twice. (New York Post 12/4/18)


The Suicide Rate among working age Americans rose 34% from ’00 to ’16, according to a recent CDC report. Suicide has become the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and is one of 3 leading causes on the rise. In ’12 and ’15 suicide rates were highest among males in construction and extraction jobs and highest for females working in arts, design, entertainment, sports and media. Rates among males were 2nd highest for those working in arts, design, entertain-ment, sports and media followed by men working in installation, maintenance and repair.  Rates among women were 2nd highest for those working in protective service and 3rd highest for health-care support workers. The lowest rate was observed in education, training and library occupations. (The Hill 11/15/18)


No Standing Still Even as it turns in its best financial results in decades; McDonald’s is doing a global brand-strategy study to ensure it keeps its momentum. Mary Dillon, EVP of Global Marketing, notes, “Consumer needs and attitudes change every day, so we have to be out ahead of it.” Are you staying ahead of your consumer or constituent? Contact me at 419-238-4082, or (Media Daily News 2/6/07)


Media Obsession Nielsen reports U.S. adults now spend 11 hours a day interacting with media and for those 18-34 over half (57%) of this time isn’t spent with passive media (TV and radio) but with interactive digital media. (Trend Watching 11/23/18)


Millennials Now Make Up the Largest Share of the U.S. labor force (35%), surpassing Generation Xers (33%) and Boomers (25%). Generation Z (those born after 1996) made up only 5 percent of the workforce in 2017, but that will grow rapidly over the next few years. (Pew Research Center)


What Gives Life Meaning? According to a recent Pew Research study, this is where Americans find meaning in life: Family 69%, Career 34%, Money 23%, Faith and spirituality 20%, Friends 19%, Activities and hobbies 19%, Health 16%. (BBC News 11/22/18)


Should the Work Week be Shortened? A recent survey of 3,000 employees in 8 countries including the U.S. States, U.K. and Germany found that nearly half thought they could easily finish their tasks in 5 hours a day if they did not have interruptions, but many are exceeding 40 hours a week anyway - with the U.S. leading the way, where 49% said they worked overtime. (Reuters 10/17/18)


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