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

February 10, 2019 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


Fewer Young Adults Dropping Out Of Church LifeWay Research found in ’17, 66% of Americans 23-30 stopped attending church on a regular basis for at least a year after turning 18 vs. 70% in ’07. LifeWay has found that historically about two-thirds of dropouts return to services once they get older. But young Christians today are more likely to cite weightier political and spiritual concerns as pushing them away from the church, with 70% listing such beliefs as a reason for their departure in ’17 vs. 52% 10 years earlier. Moving for college remains the top reason young people stop attending church in both surveys. Other popular reasons include: a perception church members were hypocritical (32%), disconnect with church life (29%) and lack of student ministry opportunities (24%). 25% of recent dropouts said disagreements over their church’s stance on political and social issues contributed to their decision to stop attending vs. 15% in ’07. (Christianity Today 1/15/19)


Abortion is the World’s Leading Cause of Death Cancer kills more than 8 million people every year. AIDS, smoking, alcohol and traffic accidents combined kill another 11 million. But abortion is the leading cause of death in the world, killing more people than all these others combined. In ’18 alone, 41.9 million pregnancies were prematurely terminated. Yet unlike most of the other leading causes of death in the world, abortion is almost 100% preventable. Since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court legalized abortion across all 50 states, 61 million babies have been killed in America. That’s roughly the combined populations of California and Florida. (Church Leaders 1/29/19)


Stress Shrinks Our Brains A recent study published in the journal Neurology finds a correlation between high levels of the stress hormone cortisol and memory impairment and that those with heightened cortisol had decreased brain volume. Researchers noted, “This study adds to the prevailing wisdom that it’s never too early to be mindful of reducing stress.” (StudyFinds 1/18/19)


Customer Loyalty Customer acquisition is an investment, but profitability is built on customer retention. And with the economy in its current state, it’s more important than ever to keep the customers you have. So how do you retain your customers and earn their loyalty? Like any successful relationship, if you want customers to be loyal to you, you must be loyal to them. Let me evaluate your customer retention effectiveness and craft a cost-effective plan to improve it. or, 419-238-4082 (Performance Insider 6/12/09)


Suicide Rates Highest in Rural U.S. have been steadily rising over the past several years throughout the U.S., but the trend has hit rural areas the hardest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Axios 12/7/18)


Character of God 70% of Americans believe there is one true God in 3 persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit while 18% disagree and 12% aren’t sure. 69% say God is perfect and cannot make a mistake. 66% believe the biblical accounts of the bodily resurrection of Jesus are completely accurate while 20% disagree and 14% aren’t sure. 57% say Jesus Christ is the only person who never sinned while 29% disagree and 15% aren’t sure. 26% say God is unconcerned with their day-to-day decisions while 61% disagree and 13% aren’t sure. (LifeWay Research 10/17/18)


The More People Go to Church, the more committed they are to attending their same church in the future. Those who attend at least once a week are twice as likely to be completely committed to attending their church (62%) than people who go once or twice a month (31%). Those who attend once or twice a month are more likely to be moderately committed (36%) than those who go at least once a week (7%). Churchgoers with evangelical beliefs are more likely to be completely committed (67%) than those who don’t have evangelical beliefs (45%). 63% of church-goers 65 or older are completely committed to attending their same church in the future vs. 50% for those under 35. (Facts & Trends 6/29/18)


10 Reasons Church Members Don’t Invite Others to Church 1. I just don’t think about it. 2. I’m afraid I’ll be rejected. 3. The music isn’t that good. 4. The preaching isn’t strong. 5. We’ve got too many church problems right now. 6. Our church is already too crowded. 7. Nobody ever challenged me to invite anyone. 8. I don’t know how to start the conversation. 9. It’s the Spirit’s job, not mine, to bring people to church. 10. It’s too far for people to come. ( 1-9-19)


66% Favor Citizenship Question on Census A new Rasmussen Reports national survey finds 66% of American adults think the U.S. Census should ask respondents whether they are citizens of the United States. 23% disagree but 11% are undecided. (Rasmussen Reports 1/22/19)


Workplace Bullying The 2017 Workplace Bullying Institute Survey found more than over 60 million U.S. workers are affected by bullying at their jobs. Males bully females 65% of the time while females bully other females 67% of the time. Fewer than 30% of employers actively punish bullying or deal with it directly. (Grace and Guts: Strategies for Living a Knock-out Life, Shannon Perry, Morgan James Publishing, 2019)


Most Millennials Hold Pro-Life Views A new Students for Life of America study finds 7 in 10 Millennials support limits on abortion through specific policies like parental notification, limiting abortions later in pregnancy at 5 months and opposition to government funding of abortion.

Only 7% shared the far-left position of the Democratic Party Platform: abortion without exceptions and funded by tax dollars. A 3 to 1 majority prefer their tax dollars go to federally qualified health centers rather than Planned Parenthood. Other Millennial findings include: •41% do not support Roe’s reversal (more than those opposed). •65% support the right to vote on abortion-related policy and want a voice on abortion policy. •56% oppose selling chemical abortion drugs online or dropping the requirement for a physical exam because of the risks to women. •They prefer, 48% to 17%, that their tax dollars go to federally qualified health centers rather than Planned Parenthood. •51% opposed Roe, when they realize it allows for abortion through all 9 months of pregnancy. (OneNewsNow 1/14/19)


The Bible Americans are split on their views of the Bible. In ’18, half of Americans say the Bible is 100% accurate in all it teaches, up from 47% in ’16 and 43% in ’14. 47% agree the Bible contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but isn’t literally true, 43% disagree vs. 44% in ’16 and 41% in ’14. 36% say modern science disproves the Bible, while 48% disagree. (LifeWay Research 10/17/18)


WIIFM? What happens to your messages when you mail too often? You change consumer behavior. First they screen you out and then they are likely to ignore you. Bottom line: you lose—because you can no longer use email to reach this audience. And consumers lose because they don’t receive relevant offers from an enterprise they like doing business with. Your message has to deliver meaningful or interesting content in a timely manner that is not intrusive. It needs to answer the age-old question, WIIFM (what’s in it for me), to have a chance in today’s marketplace. Often fresh eyes like mine can find a new and engaging way to tell your story. 419-238-4082, or (e-Mail Insider 6/10/09)


God No Longer Seems As Relevant For the first time since Gallup began asking in 1957, less than half of Americans (46%) say religion can answer all or most of today’s problems. 39% see religion as largely old-fashioned and out of date. As expected, the more one attends church, the more likely they are to believe religion does have the answers. 81% of weekly church attenders say religion can answer today’s problems as do 58% of those nearly weekly and monthly attendees. But just 27% of those who attend less often agree while 58% say it is old-fashioned and out of date. 9% of religiously unaffiliated Americans believe religion has answers for today while 73% see it as largely out of date. Yet in Gallup’s most recent survey, 62% of Americans say religion is at least fairly important in their life, with 51% saying it’s very important. 78% say religion is losing its influence on the nation, with just 19% saying it’s increasing. 82% of Protestants say religion is losing influence vs. 74% of Catholics and 73% of the religiously unaffiliated. (Facts & Trends 1/10/19)


The U.S. National Fertility Rate has been insufficient to sustain the population since 1971, but the ’17 numbers indicate a 30-year low. The National Center for Health Statistics reports the total fertility rate for the U.S. overall that year was 1,765.5 per 1,000 women, 16% below the level needed for a population to replace itself: 2,100 births per 1,000 women. The total number of births in the U.S. in ’17 was 3,853,472, a drop of 2% from ’16. Women of all age groups except the over 40-set had fewer babies in ’17. Birth rates declined for nearly all age groups of women under 40, but rose for women in their early 40s. The birth rate for teens (15–19) was down 7% in ’17 to 18.8 births per 1,000 women; rates declined for both younger (15–17) and older (18–19) teens. In ’16, approximately 884,524 Americans were killed before birth in legal abortions. (LifeSite News 1/11/19)


More U.S. Children Suffering from Depression A multiple year Analysis of National Survey of Children’s Health data revealed 2.6 million American children (more than 1 in every 20) were diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression between ’11 and ’12. In the most recent survey, 5.3% of children and teens were diagnosed with current anxiety or depression vs. 3.5% in ’07. Perhaps the most telling statistic from the study was the rise in the percentage of children who had ever been diagnosed with anxiety or depression from 5.4% in ’03 to 8.4% in ’11-’12. Researchers also found children diagnosed with anxiety or depression were more likely to develop other health conditions as well, such as neurobehavioral issues and obesity. Anxiety and depression are associated with school problems, parenting stress and unmet medical needs. (Study Finds 1/20/19)


Even Low Levels of Marijuana Use, as few as one or two times may change the teen brain, according to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. According to the most recent data released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 32.6% of 10th graders reported using marijuana at least once during their lifetime. (NBC News 1/15/19)


Get Moving Replacing 30 minutes per day of sedentary time with 30 minutes of physical activity at a light intensity was associated with a 17% lower risk of early death in a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The study also found that replacing 30 minutes of sedentary time with 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise was associated with a 35% lower risk of early death. (CNN Health 1/14/19)


If It Ain’t Broke—Fix It “Too many people hold onto good ideas for too long simply because they work,” claims Larry Bossidy, former chairman of Honeywell and author of Confronting Reality: Doing What Matters To Get Things Done Right. Smart business strategy not only means setting growth plans for the business or ministry and taking steps to improve productivity, but also identifying the things (margins, inefficiencies, customer/donor satisfaction) that put an organization behind where it wants to be. I can help you confront the issues that separate your business/ministry from greatness! Contact me at 419-238-4082, or


Great Commission Unawareness According to recent Barna Research, more than half of U.S. churchgoers have not heard of the Great Commission. Additionally, even when presented with a list of passages, 37% don’t recognize which well-known passage typically goes by this name. (Barna Research 1/15/18)


How Effective Are Churches in helping people grow spiritually? 76% of U.S. churchgoers think their church has been either extremely helpful (36%) or very helpful (40%) in their spiritual growth, 16% say it is moderately helpful while 1% say it has not been helpful and 2% not sure. 27% want their church to help them understand more about God and the Bible, 20% want it to help them find new ways to serve,
19% to provide more Bible study groups and 16% to help them get to know more people in church. 14% say their church could provide forums to answer their spiritual questions, 13% want their church to give them more chances to serve, 13% to provide worship experiences that fit their needs, 9% to provide more interaction with the pastor and 8% to provide them with a mentor. ( 1/29/19)


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