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 25, 2019 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


The Unbothered Life Teens are starting their sex lives a lot later according to recent New York Times research. Social commentators and sociologists debate whether the trend is temporary and whether it marks a healthy or unhealthy shift. But it’s possible it is the one result of the most seductive promises of a technological age: that ours should be an unbothered life. It makes for a nagging question: Who do we become when we’re no longer willing to bother? As we continue to reduce the physical burden it takes to move through the world and the efforts of our lives are often only as effortful as staring our smartphones in the face, how will we galvanize the real will for love of God and neighbor? (Christianity Today International 2/1/19)

Reaching the Next Generation for Christ is a top concern for 40% of U.S. pastors, finds recent LifeWay Research data. 79% say weekly worship attendance at their church will increase in the next 5 years. But looking at the last 5 years, only 36% say worship attendance increased, while 37% say it stayed the same and 27% say it declined. Pastors more likely to say attendance grew in the past 5 years include those from non-white ethnicities or African American (50%), pastors aged 18 to 54 (41%), Baptists (41%), those leading a congregation of 250 or more (56%) and those minister­ing in a western state (43%). Anticipation for growth in worship attendance is strongest among pastors 45 to 54 (85%), evangelicals (85%), Pentecostals (94%) and pastors with attendance of 250 or more (91%). (Facts & Trends 2/13/19)


Listen Organizations need to listen to their customers in a way that shows those customers are valued. This is especially important because customers’ expectations are constantly changing. If, for example, company A answers its toll-free number in 1 ring and you are that person’s next call, she will expect you to answer in 1 ring as well. Customers and donors judge you on what they think ought to happen, not on what you’ve ‘trained’ them to anticipate. Let me help you hear customers and donors. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or

Millennials Say Evangelism Is Wrong A new Barna report, Reviving Evangelism, based on faith-sharing experiences and expectations of Christians and non-Christians reveals Christian Millennials feel especially conflicted about evangelism with almost half believing it is wrong to share their faith. 97% practicing U.S. Christians believe part of their faith means being a witness about Jesus and 97% that the best thing that could ever happen to someone is for them to know Him. 73% of Millennials feel equipped to share their faith with others when someone raises faith questions and that they are gifted at sharing their faith with others. This is higher than any other generational group: Gen X (66%), Boomers (59%) and Elders (56%). Yet 47% of Millennials agree, at least somewhat, that it is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith. This is compared to 27% of Gen X, 19% of Boomers and 20% of Elders. 60% of Christian Millennials believe people today are more likely than in the past to take offense if they share their faith vs. 28% among Boomer Christians. (Barna Group 2/5/19)


Believers Sleep Better A study released by the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion asserts a strong faith can help with good sleep. Univ. of Arizona’s Terrence D. Hill said people who believe in salvation and believe they have an unshake-able relationship with God usually sleep longer, fall asleep much faster and feel more restful in the morning. The research clearly showed that religion by an indirect manner could promote sleep by protecting the individual from a number of other risk factors, including stress. This is corroborated by the National Sleep Foundation. Active members of any church tend to help each other and engage in positive coping practices. The cumulative effect is that regular churchgoers may enjoy much less agitation during negative life events. (World Religion News 1/17/19)


Women Need 82 More Minutes a Day A new survey by skin and hair product company Garnier Fructis finds with all the things filling her daily to-do list, the average American woman needs an extra 82 minutes a day just to complete all the daily tasks they set out to do. 55% of respondents feel too busy to keep up with all ongoing tasks, such as: chaperoning children, running errands, managing work or catching up with friends. 70% feel rushed when they’re getting ready to leave the house. The average woman has 19 days per month where things just don’t go as planned. Mornings are by far the busiest part of the day with a typical morning routine requiring 55 minutes of their time. Many feel they have barely any free time to simply do something they enjoy. 30% said they’re never able to squeeze in more than 30 minutes of “me time” per day. And 38% admit they haven’t had a single afternoon to themselves in more than a month. If given more time per day, 49% would use it to sleep, 36% would read more, 29% would use it to exercise and 25% would even give up caffeine in exchange for more time at home relaxing. 10% said they’d be willing to give up their significant other in order to have more time to get ready each day while 20% would try to learn a new hobby if they had some extra time added to their day. (StudyFinds 1/18/19)


Christian Persecution Growing Globally According to the watchdog organization Open Doors USA, more than 245 million Christians now experience high, very high, or extreme persecution, an increase of 14% in ’18. Christian persecution against women continues to rise in particular. (Fox News 1/19/19)


American Attitudes Toward Abortion indicate an overwhelming majority support for substantial restrictions and for Roe v. Wade to be reinterpreted to allow restrictions, finds the annual Marist Poll. 65% would like the Supreme Court to reinterpret Roe in a way that would functionally overturn it. 75% of Americans say it should be limited to, at most, the first 3 months of pregnancy. 65% believe if Roe v. Wade goes before the Supreme Court the justices should rule either to allow restrictions as decided by each state (49%) or outlaw abortion (16%). Just 30% want the Court to rule to allow unrestricted abortion. 75% oppose taxpayer-supported funding of abortion outside of the country and only 19% support foreign-aid funding for abortion. (LifeSite News 1/16/19)


Increase Energy, not just efficiency! Through an “energy audit,” understand what energizes your staff and fuels personal growth, which is the ultimate source for creativity and profit. Reduce activities that de-energize your team and match your employees to activities that stimulate creativity. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or visit (Business Week Online 11/2/05)


Parental Separation is more likely to harm the mental health of children if they are aged at least 7 when the split occurs, but appears to have no effect on the risks of them getting ill if they are younger, finds a Univ. College London study. Minors between 7 and 14 at the time of the split exhibit a 16% rise in emotional problems, such as anxiety and depressive symptoms and an 8% increase in conduct disorders. In contrast, children whose parents separate when they are between 3 and 7 are not more likely to develop such problems, either immediately or by age 14, than those still living with both parents. (The Guardian 1/18/19)


Generation Z Is Going to College at a higher rate than previous generations. Pew Research finds 59% of 18-20 year olds today are enrolled in college vs. 53% of millennials and 44% of Gen-Xers. In ’17, 61% of white young adults no longer in high school were enrolled in college, similar to the 59% in ’02. For the first time, more than half of Hispanic (55%) and black students (54%) were enrolled in college. College has become more attainable for Gen-Z, as more are finishing high school than previously, with 8 in 10 students graduating from high school in ’17. (Facts & Trends 1/18/19)


Sin and Punishment 62% of Americans expect Jesus to return and judge all people vs. 54% agree hell is a real place where certain people will be punished forever vs. 30% who disagree. 66% admit everyone sins a little but most people are good by nature while 27% disagree and 7% aren’t sure. 23% say even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation vs. 69% who disagree and 8% who aren’t sure. (LifeWay Research 10/17/18)


Reasons Young Adults Leave Church 1. I moved to college and stopped attending (34%). 2. Church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical (32%). 3. I didn’t feel connected to people in my church (29%). 4. I disagreed with the church’s stance on political/social issues (25%). 5. My work responsibilities prevented me from attending (24%). 6. I never connected with students in the student ministry (23%). 7. I simply wanted a break from church (23%). 8. I was only going to please others (22%). (Facts & Trends 1/23/19)


Reasons Young Adults Stay in Church 1. Church was a vital part of my relationship with God (56%). 2. I wanted the church to help guide my decisions in everyday life (54%). 3. I wanted to follow a parent/family member’s example (43%). 4. Church activities were a big part of my life (39%). 5. I felt it was helping me become a better person (39%). 6. I was committed to the purpose and work of the church (37%). 7. It was helping me through a difficult time in my life (26%). 8. My friends were attending (23%). (Facts & Trends 1/23/19)


Low-Performing And Even Moderate-Performing organizations quickly become enamored with early innovation or clever adaptation. Leaders of these entities fall in love with a model that works, taking their focus away from the continual need to invent and improve. The culture of these organizations becomes almost exclusively inward-focused, causing them to lose touch with evolving trends in their markets and changing needs of the dwindling pool of customers or constituents they should be serving. High-performing organizations do things quite differently. I can help you find effective ways to shift your organizations’ focus. Contact 419-238-4082, or (Leadership Network 7/25/17)


Financial-Strapped Private Colleges are closing around the country at an alarming rate, claims a recent report. While most Americans still think a college degree is essential to finding employment, fewer adults today see the value in a 4-year institution. A new Rasmussen Reports survey finds 84% of U.S. adults say, in terms of finding a job in today’s economy, a college degree is at least “somewhat important,” including 41% who believe it’s “very important.” 13% don’t think it’s important, with 2% who think it’s “not at all important.” (Rasmussen Reports 1/29/190


Churches Under the Age of 10 are 2.3 times more likely to plant a campus or a church than churches that are over 10 years old. (Church Leaders 1/30/19)


Toxic Silence According to a 3-year Fuller Youth Institute longitudinal study, over 70% of churchgoing high schoolers report having serious doubts about faith. Less than half shared their doubts and struggles with an adult or friend. Yet these students’ opportunities to express and explore their doubts were actually correlated with greater faith maturity. In other words, it’s not doubt that’s toxic to faith; it’s silence. National Study for Youth and Religion researchers discovered young people have become inarticulate about their faith, often lacking the language to express their beliefs and convictions. (Christianity Today International 2/21/19)


Perfectionism Has Increased substantially over the past 25 years, it affects men and women equally and it becomes more neurotic and less conscientious as time passes, finds a meta-analysis involving 77 studies and nearly 25,000 people. Perfectionism involves striving for flawlessness and requiring perfection of self and others. Extremely negative reactions to mistakes, harsh self-criticism, nagging doubt about perform-ance abilities and a strong sense that others are critical and demanding also define the trait. Millennials struggle with perfectionism more than previous generations. The causes include today’s dog-eat-dog world, where rank and perform-ance count excessively and winning and self-interest are emphasized along with controlling and critical parents, social media posts showcasing unrealistically “perfect” lives, glossy ads depicting unobtainable standards. It is robustly linked to anxiety, stress, depression, eating disorders and suicide. As perfectionists grow older, they appear to unravel. Researchers conclude unconditional love is an antidote. Parents need to be less controlling, critical and overprotective of their children. It helps if they value children for more than their performance, rank or appearance. (The Conversation 2-5-19)



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