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 25, 2019 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update



23% of Americans Do Not Take a Day of Rest 77% of churchgoers say they do take an intentional day of rest and most do so on Sunday, finds a new LifeWay Research study. 7 in 10 churchgoers take their Sabbath on Sunday. Few take it on Saturday (5%), Friday (1%) or Monday (1%). 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% say they do so by spending time with family. Churchgoers with a high school degree or less are among those less likely to say the Sabbath still applies (52%), that they rest on Sunday as opposed to other days (66%) and that they observe the Sabbath by avoiding paid work (29%) and spending time with family (57%). They are also more likely to say they don’t take a Sabbath rest (25%) than those with some college (18%). (Lifeway Research 12/4/18)


View of Clergy Honesty and Ethics has Fallen to an all-time low in a ranking of different professions, finds Gallup’s latest poll. Only 37% of respondents had a “very high” or “high” opinion of the honesty and ethical standards of clergy. 43% gave them an average rating, while 15% said they had a “low” or “very low” opinion. The historical high of 67% occurred back in 1985 and the score has been dropping below the overall average positive rating of 54% since ’09. (Christian Post 12/25/18)


Most Churchgoers Committed to Current Church 85% of churchgoers say they’ve not considered switching churches in the last 6 months, finds LifeWay Research. 57% say they are completely committed to continuing to attend their current church, 28% are “very much” committed, while 11% are moderately committed. (Facts & Trends 1/7/19)


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More People Homeless Than Ever As of last year, more people have been forced by violence and conflict to flee their homes than live in the U.K. or France. That’s upwards of 60 million people. If all of these asylum-seekers, internally displaced people and refugees were a country, they’d be the 21st most populous nation in the world. More than half of refugees are under 18. This is the worst it’s been since WW II and is not expected to get better. The top 5 places people are running from are: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. (Axios 12/15/18)


Teen Girls who experience heightened levels of anxiety, depression and hostility are more likely to self-harm. And now a new study tells us that these self-injurious behaviors, such as cutting, may do more than harm just the body: they also indicate potentially detrimental changes in the brain. Ohio State Univ. researchers have discovered a biological change in the brain volume of girls who self-harm. The reductions seen in the brain scans of these girls are similar to what is seen in adults with borderline personality disorder (BPD), a severe and hard-to-treat mental illness. Self-harming is also associated with a heightened risk of suicide. Researchers say these findings serve as a warning for a swarm of potential bad outcomes. (Development and Psychopathology 11/5/18)


The Standard Mileage Rates For 2019 have been announced by the IRS: •58˘ per mile for business travel (3.5˘ increase from ’18). •20˘ per mile for medical or moving purposes (2˘ increase from 2018). •14˘ per mile for charitable service purposes (no change from ’18). These rates are used to determine the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. (ECFA 1/16/19)


Children are Sexually Assaulting Other Children There were 44 child sexual assault victims treated in ’17 in the top 5% of U.S. hospitals across the U.S. that had been sexually abused within the past week. The number rises to roughly 1,000 per year when those who report abuse after 5 days is factored in and the majority of the victims are little girls between the ages 4 and 8. This sort of sexual assault is “a learned behavior” and nurses are finding more and more that pornography is playing a role in these cases. Many young perpetrators admit that they are acting out what they have seen in pornography. How are we, as a society, failing in such a way that we have 11, 12 and 14-year-old boys, primarily, committing violent sexual assaults?” (LifeSite 12/10/18)


Legal Firearms Do Not Increase Crime A recent examination of an expansive dataset, encompassing all 50 states and the District of Columbia, from 1986 to 2015, to determine whether a relationship existed between liberalization of access to legal concealed carry of firearms and rates of both violent and nonviolent crime found no evidence of a link between access to firearms and increases in crime. (NRA-ILA 12/6/18)


Why More Suicides? According to the CDC, a significant contributor is the rise in suicides in the U.S. could originate with one or more physical injuries to the brain resulting in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Scientists tell us this mental illness disease, originally thought to have affected only boxers, then later professional football players who’d suffered concussions, affects far more Americans than that. This includes people who have never sustained even one concussion, including military personnel who have been exposed to an explosion, as well as anyone who’s been repeatedly hit in the head, such as victims of domestic abuse. There is no safe blow to the head. (CBN News 12/7/18)


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Emotions Motivate Christians’ Giving 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%). 38% remember being driven by an overwhelming sense of purpose while 34% had a relationship with someone who was already involved in the cause. 91% of practicing Christians say they’ve given money to church, 75% give to missions, 70% to local organizations that take care of people in need and 64% directly to individuals who require assistance. In all categories, practicing Christians out give their non-practicing peers and they are 14% points more likely to donate to organizations that address issues overseas. (The Barna Group 12/11/18)


No More Kids 71% of U.S. parents younger than 50 say it’s unlikely they will have more children in the future and among childless adults in the same age group, 37% say they don’t ever expect to become parents, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Among parents under 50, 80% say they’re not likely to have more kids in the future because they just don’t want to, while 30% point to some other reason. Among childless adults under 50, 23% say they’re unlikely to have children in the future because they just don’t want to, while 14% name some other reason. Among parents 40 to 49, 91% say they are unlikely to have more children in the future vs. 56% of parents younger than 40. 30% of childless adults 40 to 49 say they are unlikely to become parents someday. (Pew Fact Tank 12/11/18)


Millennials Relying On Relatives More millennials are turning to their parents for help in buying first homes, says The Wall Street Journal. The proportion of Americans under age 34 that got assistance from relatives in putting together down payments has risen to 26% in ’18 from 22% in ’11, reports the Federal Housing Administration, which mostly backs loans for first-time homebuyers. Millennials, who face higher levels of student debt and historically slower wage growth, have also seen their ownership rate drop by 8 percentage points since ’04, according to Freddie Mac. (Linkedin 1/6/19)


Postage Increase The U.S. Postal Service will leave 50-cent forever stamps behind on Jan. 27, increasing their price by 5 cents. (USPS)


Clergy Generational Differences Younger clergy differ from their elders in several key respects. Younger clergy do not assume power comes from position, nor do they ascribe authority to denominational higher-ups. They are more eager to form partnerships across denominational boundaries. They are more inclined to insist on strong boundaries between work time and leisure time. They are ambivalent in their attitudes toward denominational structures. (Insights into Religion 1/3/19)


More Multiracial churches A LifeWay Research study found 81% of Protestant pastors say their congregation is made up of one racial or ethnic group, but multiethnic congregations are growing. The number of churches made up of only one ethnicity is down 5 percentage points from ’13. (Facts & Trends 1/7/19)


Drifter, Surfer, Drowner or Navigator On the ocean of life Drifters define themselves by their circumstances, pushed here and there by the winds and waves of chance. Surfers define themselves by their activities, riding the swells this way and that, dreaming of the perfect wave. Drowners define themselves by their limiting factors, sad and mournful, they are professional victims. Navigators define themselves by their commitments. They know exactly what they’re trying to make happen and they’re willing to pay the price. Do you know what you’re trying to make happen? Are you willing to pay the price? Maybe I can help. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or

(Roy Williams, Monday Morning Memo 8/16/10)


Pastor Career Experiences Most pastors first felt a calling to ministry as teens or young adults but 55% had another career before going into ministry. 26% remain bi-vocational, currently holding some other kind of (paid or unpaid) role in addition to pastoring, usually for non-financial motivations like personal fulfillment or having other outlets for their gifts. Though 36% admit occasionally wishing for another calling, 72% feel content and are very satisfied with their oppor-tunity to use their spiritual gifts (81%) or talents (77%) as a pastor. 62% are very confident in the preparation they are receiving for their future. 78% also think their educational background, including seminary for 76%, is a good fit for their role. 64% see at least a possibility of pursuing additional education, including 33% who are already doing so. (Barna Research 1/8/19)


Why We Attend Church 81% of church attenders say becoming closer to God is one of the primary reasons they attend. Even those who aren’t showing up to church still want to grow closer to God. Among self-identified Protestants who attend a few times a year or less, 48% say they’ve found other ways to practice their faith. (Facts & Trends 1/7/19)


Pernicious &Pervasive 3 major pornography websites are now more popular than Netflix, Instagram and Twitter. According to website rankings compiled by SimilarWeb, the porn sites were only outdone by 5 other outlets: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo. Every second, nearly 30,000 U.S. internet users are accessing and consuming porn. Last year 40 million Americans regularly visited porn sites and some 200,000 Americans described themselves as “porn addicts.” 35% of all internet downloads are related to pornography. (FaithWire 1/10/19)


What Would Make You Consider Changing Churches? When asked what would make them consider changing congregations, churchgoers said if the church changed its doctrine (54%) or they moved residences (48%), a preaching style change (19%), a pastor left (12%), a family member wanting to change (10%), different political views (9%), they didn’t feel needed (6%), music style changed (5%), conflict with someone (4%) or friends stopped attending (3%). (Facts & Trends 1/7/19)


Why People Claim No Religion Most Americans who claim no religious identity say they question a lot of religious teachings (60%) and around half (49%) don’t like positions churches take on social and political issues, 37% say they don’t believe in God, 36% say religion is irrelevant to them and 34% don’t like religious leaders. (Facts & Trends 1/7/19)


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