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

January 10, 2019 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


What Motivates Christians to Give? The main reasons people say they have gotten involved in a cause in the past are primarily emotional: They believed they could make a difference (62%) or they saw or heard a moving story (45%). More than a third of adults remember being driven by an overwhelming sense of purpose (38%) or a relationship with someone who was already involved in the cause (34%). Direct requests for involvement seem to be less convincing, few say they joined a cause because they were explicitly challenged (20%) or asked (9%) to. However, 30% of practicing Christians took up a cause because their church “cast a vision” for it. (Barna Research 11/27/18)


Income Influences Weight Americans’ income has a significant connection to how much they weigh, but it’s totally different for men than women. For women, the lower the income, the higher their weight and vice-versa for men. Men in the past decade have weighed, on average, 10 pounds more in households earning $75,000 or more (200 pounds) than in those earning less than $30,000 (190 pounds). Women in the high-income bracket weigh, on average, 12 pounds less than those in low-income households, 152 pounds vs. 164 pounds, respectively. (Gallup 11/21/18)


It’s OK to Quit Contrary to conventional wisdom, winners actually do quit. Seth Godin points out in The Dip that knowing what to quit and what to keep is a key element in success. These are hard choices that my outside objectivity can help you make. 419-238-4082, or (The Dip, Seth Godin, Portfolio, 2007)


Abortion Worldwide Globally there were approximately 41.95 million abortions carried out in ’18, reported Worldmeters on 12/31/18, more deaths than from cancer, AIDS and traffic accidents. (Christian Post 1/2/19)


Restoring American Growth Engine In ’18, because of the Trump tax cuts and deregulation, the U.S. economy will have its first year of 3% growth in over a decade. Black unemployment, 5.9% and white unemployment, 3.4%, are at historic lows. And the gap between black and white unem-ployment has dramatically shrunk, showing blacks are, in an unprecedented way, participating in the economic recovery. The latest data shows black unemployment just 2.6 points higher than white. If growth averages 3% annually over the next 30 years, rather than 2%, average income per person will be 35% higher. (OneNewsNow 1/2/19)


Loneliness in America A new Barna Research study found 62% of adults have between 2 and 5 close friends, but 20% regularly or often feel lonely. Those who report the highest levels of loneliness are single, male, young and likely earning a lower income. Those who aren’t working or those who work remotely or for themselves make fewer friends because 42% meet their friends on the job. Outside of their place of employment, U.S. adults meet their closest friends through other friends (35%) and in their neighborhood (29%). The interactions Americans have with their neighbors are usually friendly but consist mostly of a brief greeting with very little interaction otherwise (37%). 25% have become friends with 1 or 2 of their neighbors. (Outreach 11/29/18)


Psychological Effects of the Prosperity Gospel A Univ. of Toronto study explored the effect the prosperity gospel has on people’s outlook on life and their consequent actions. They found it makes people optimistic, happy and even a little irresponsible with money. The prosperity gospel messaging leads people into “thinking God wants you to be wealthy, prosperous and donate money to the church.” Comparing Christian and non-Christian participant responses finds the prosperity gospel’s success as a growing religious movement might be less about feeling God and more about feeling good. (Megan Briggs, 11/29/18)


Sabbath Rest A new LifeWay Research study finds 77% of U.S. church-goers say they take an intentional day of rest and most do so on Sunday. 70% take their Sabbath on Sunday, 5% on Saturday, 1% on Friday and 1% on Monday while 23% don’t take a day of rest. Females (26%) are more likely than males to say they don’t take a Sabbath rest (18%). Assemblies of God/Pentecostals (32%) and Lutherans (31%) are more likely than Baptists (18%) to say they don’t take a day of rest. 79% of those who observe a Sabbath say attending a religious service is part of their Sabbath-keeping. 65% do so by spending time with family, 33% by avoiding paid work, 30% by taking a nap and 25% by avoiding labor or chores of any kind. 11% avoid shopping, 6% refrain from attending paid events or entertainment and 3% refrain from media use. (Facts & Trends 12/4/18)

Fewer Teens Read for Pleasure As part of an ongoing study on children’s health in Québec, 2,000 teens were asked about their reading habits. To the question “In an average week, how much time do you spend reading for your own pleasure (including books, magazines, newspapers and time spent reading on a computer or the Internet)?” 52% answered that they read one hour or less weekly or said that they simply never read for pleasure. (Publishing Perspectives 11/28/18)


Most Americans Want To Live Longer than their average life expectancy. A recent Axios poll shows they want to be sure they can live independently and won’t be in constant pain. 70% of men want to live past age 77, the average life expectancy for men while 57% of women would like to live past 81, the average life expectancy for women. But nearly half of Americans, when asked if they’d like to live past 100, said it depends how much pain they’re in or whether they’d be able to live independently. 30% say they’re not interested in living past 100, while 22% say they’re open to it. People 65 and older are both the most interested in living past the average life expectancy and the least interested in living beyond 100. (Axios 11/28/18)


More Important than Ever The American Express Global Customer Service Barometer says 61% of Americans report quality customer service is more important to them in today’s economic environment and will spend an average of 9% more when they believe a company provides excellent service. Are your constituents or customers receiving the quality service they desire from you? Contact me at 419-238-4082, or (Center for Media Research Brief 7/20/10)


Ultimate Financial Goal Of 10 possible answers to the question, “What would you consider to be the ultimate financial goal in life?” the option to “give charitably” ranks at number 5, 11% of Christians choosing that answer. This is followed by the option “to serve God with my money,” ranking at number 6 (10%). (Barna Research 11/27/18)


A Record Low Number of Americans says religion can serve as an answer to “all or most of today’s problems,” according to a new Gallup poll. Just 46% of respondents said religion can solve all or most of the world’s problems. It marked the first time in more than 60 years that less than half of Americans responded that way. Meanwhile, 39% said religion is “old-fashioned and out of date.” 81% of people who attend church weekly say religion can answer today’s problems, while 58% of those who attend infrequently called church old-fashioned. Yet, 72% of people say religion is important in their lives, including 51% who say it is very important. (The Hill 5/24/18)


Evangelical Churches and Ministries saw an increase in giving in ’17, the highest increase since ’14, according to a new Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability report. ECFA-accredited organizations received approximately $13.3 billion in cash donations in ’17, a 5.9% increase over the previous year. (ECFA 12/3/18)


Suicide Rates Are Up 33% in the U.S. More than 47,000 Americans killed themselves in ’17, reports the CDC. Since ’99, the suicide rate has climbed 33%. Americans are more than twice as likely to die by their own hands, of their own will, than by someone else’s. (AP 11/29/18)


Sleep Deprived Teens According to sleep experts, teenagers need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep every night, but a new study finds when they’re not meeting that standard, they’re more prone to risky behaviors. Previous research determined teens who don’t get enough sleep at night are more likely to suffer from learning disorders, impaired judgement and the risk of adverse behavior. From this latest study, researchers found just 30% of students regularly slept for the recommended 8 hours on school nights; which means 70% of high school students are at risk of making unsafe decisions. When compared to students who regularly slept at least 8 hours every night, students who slept 6 hours or less were twice as likely to use alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or other drugs and drive drunk. They were also twice as likely to report carrying a weapon or getting into a fight, were more than 3 times likely to consider or attempt suicide and 4 times as likely to attempt suicide, resulting in treatment. (JAMA’s Ped 12/18)


Children of Obese Parents are more likely to be obese than other children, finds NHS’s Health Survey for England 2017. For the first time, the report analyzed the link between parent and child weight. It found that 28% of children of an obese mother were also obese vs. 8% of other children, while 24% of children of an obese father were obese vs. 9% of other children. 47% of mothers and 52% of fathers of obese children thought their child was about the right weight. (The Guardian 12/4/18)


Reputation Is Everything The Internet and search make all information easily accessible and capable of becoming viral and ubiquitous in a millisecond. The Web is the new central nervous system of the marketplace. It’s introduced unprecedented speed and efficiency in synchronizing the core truth about who you really are with your actual reputation in the marketplace. The Web is driving expectations and sensitivity around brands higher than ever. As a result, marketing and brand-building is no longer about creating a desirable facade, but about driving all that is desired into the product in the first place. It’s living by the philosophy that the sum of all your actions equals your brand equity—including the experience of even mundane things like invoicing and returns. Are you really what you say you are? Contact 419-238-4082, or (Online Spin 4/11/08)


Shared Faith or Football Alliances? A study by the sports poster company Fathead, found many Americans would rather their significant other share the same team than the same religion. 59% of men say having the same religious views is more important, while 41% say their team is # 1. For women, 75% say the religious views are more important with 25% saying the sports team. 79% of women and 70% of men say having the same thoughts on politics is more important than having the same sports fandom. Still, 21% of women and 31% of men say having a partner who is a fan of the same team is more important than sharing political views. 31% of men say they wish their partner cared more about sports vs. 13% of women. 2% of women vs. 8% of men say they wish their significant other cared less about sports. (Facts & Trends 11/29/18)


More Hispanic Evangelicals According to Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, “more than two-thirds of the 52 million-plus Latinos in the U.S. are Catholic and that number could be cut in half by 2030.” It’s estimated that over 35% of Hispanics in America now consider themselves “born again” evangelicals. (Outreach 1/1/19)


Parents Take Caution Experts in the field are urging caution for parents of transgender children and teens, citing studies that show minors often change their minds about transitioning when they’re adults. In ’13, Amsterdam researcher Thomas Steensma released a study showing 63% of transgender teens he studied had embraced their birth gender by the ages of 15-16. The younger a child is, the less likely they are to stick with their new gender identity. ( 12/6/18)


Nones Aren’t Non-Religious Just because the nones don’t profess a faith doesn’t mean they’re not interested in spirituality or participating in symbolically resonant rituals. 72% of nones profess belief in some sort of higher power, even if that higher power isn’t necessarily a traditional, major faith deity. A recent Pew poll found 62% believe in one or more “New Age” principles, including the efficacy of psychics or astrology. In other words, most of America’s young religiously unaffiliated are not so much religious nones as they are religious “manys.” (RNS 12/14/18)


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