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

July 10, 2016 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update



American’s Morality New research from Barna Group reveals growing concern about the moral condition of the nation. A majority of American adults across age group, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status and political ideology expresses concern about the nation’s moral condition, 80% overall. Among Elders it’s 89%, Boomers 87%, Gen-Xers 75% and Millennials 74%, report concern. Similarly, practicing Christians (90%) are more likely than adults of no faith (67%) or those who identify with a religious faith other than Christianity (72%) to say they are concerned about the moral condition of the nation.  According to 57% of U.S. adults, knowing what is right or wrong is a matter of personal experience. 75% of Millennials agree strongly or somewhat with the statement, “Whatever is right for your life or works best for you is the only truth you can know,” vs. only 38% of Elders. 31% of Millennials, 16% of Gen-Xers, 16% of Boomers and 10% of Elders (10%) strongly agree with the statement. 51% of practicing Christians disagree as does 41% of the general population vs. 33% adults of no faith. (Barna Group 5/25/16)


Facebook Each month, 1.65 billion people use Facebook, up from 1.59 billion at the end of ‛15, and in North America the numbers are now 222 million monthly users, up from 219 million at the end of last year. On an average day, more than 1 billion people are active on Facebook. That’s roughly 1/7th of the world’s population.  Facebook is viewed weekly or daily by more Americans than the Bible; 56% vs. 37%. The average American spends about 40 minutes a day on Facebook. More than 1 in 10 users always check Face-book if they wake up in the middle of the night. 56% of adults over 65 that use the Internet are now on Facebook, up from 45% in ‛13. (Market Watch 5/14/16)


Non-Christian’s View of Being Moral 58% of non-Christian U.S. adults believe being honest at all times is essential to being a moral person finds a new Pew Research study. Other essentials are: being grateful for what you have (56%), committing to spend more time with family (48%),  forgiving those who have wronged you (42%), working to protect the environment (37%), working to help poor and needy (35%), not losing temper (26%), buying from companies that pay fair wage (21%), living healthy lifestyle (18%), believing in God (17%), praying regularly (13%), reading Bible/religious materials (7%), helping out in your congregation (5%), attending religious services (5%) and resting on Sabbath (4%). (Millennial Evangelical 5/24/16)


Mumbo vs. Jumbo Jumbo was the famous elephant PT Barnum exhibited. His name came to stand for the big story, for the audacious claim, for making a big noise. You probably need more Jumbo in the story you’re trying to tell.

Mumbo, on the other hand, is deliberately complicating the facts. It’s manipulation, the creation of placebos that don’t scale or the extension of power without the facts to back you up. I can help you remove the mumbo from your message. or visit (Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog 8/3/13)


Millennial Identity What do Millennials deem most central to their identity? According to Barna’s research, “family” and “personal interests” are the top 2 categories. “Career” is actually one of the least likely categories identified; the only category it beats is “technology.” This is partly due to Millennials struggling to find jobs. Their employment rate in ‛12 was only 63%, and 36% were living at their parents’ home, the highest number in 40 years. Even those with a bachelor’s degree; their rate of unemployment jumped from 7.7% in ‛07 to 13.3% in ‛12. This is confounding to their parents. 64% of Boomers say “starting your career” is crucial in your 20s, while only 51% of Millennials agree. 72% of Boomers believe “financial independence” is an important accomplishment in your 20s, vs. 59% of Millennials. When identifying what is central to Millennials’ identity, 29% say “funding my personal interests” and 27% “working for myself”. Both enable one to pursue a life outside of work.

90% expect to stay in a job for only 3 years. (Barna Group 6/9/16)


Millennials’ News Source More 18-to-24 year olds get their news from social media than TV, finds a new Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism report. 28% of people in this age group claim social media is their main source for news while only 24% cite TV. The research is based on a YouGov survey of more than 50,000 online news consumers in 26 countries. 48% revealed a news website or app was their first news source on their phones, and 33% cited social media sites. 51% of those with online access use social media as a news source while less than 10% in English-speaking countries have paid for a subscription to online news in the past year. (Galley Cat 6/15/16)


Comfort is Not the Goal One of the reasons ministries get stuck is being unwilling to change. They don’t want to rock the boat. Leaders are afraid. People may leave. Donors may stop giving. Over time the status quo becomes the driving value. When any organization stops changing, people get comfortable. It’s impossible to get comfortable and be sold out to Jesus at the same time. Comfort is not the goal. To be a ministry that embraces change, you have to begin to make some changes. It begins with establishing a clear vision, values and strategy. I can help you through this vital process. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or ( 8/3/13)


Bible Readers Although nearly 90% of Americans own Bibles, about a third read it at least once a week. Barna researchers expect reading frequency in the general population to trend downward in coming years as Elders become a smaller share of the total: 49% of Elders read the Bible at least once a week vs. 24% of Millennials. When it comes to the reasons people read the Bible, a relatively consistent majority does so because it draws them closer to God, though significant minorities also point to a need for comfort (16%) or direction (16%). 60% express a desire to read the Bible more than they currently do. (Barna 6/15/16)


Trust in the Bible’s Reliability Declining 25 years ago, 46% of Americans strongly agreed that “the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches” vs. 33% today. (Barna 6/15/16)


App Lapse According to several reports, most consumers stop using apps within the first week, some within the first 72 hours. (BizReport 6/10/16)


We Are the Most Litigious Society on Earth. If the level of litigation in the U.S. was simply at the level of countries that we compete with for jobs in Asia and in Europe, we could save $589 billion a year.  (Rasmussen Reports, John Stossel, 6/22/16)


Frequent Job Hopping can harm your employment prospects.  Researchers sent out fictitious resumes with varying frequency of job changes, and found that resumes with fewer changes received a 40%–50% higher callback rate than those with more. Employers want to hire candidates with a positive work attitude, those who are cooperative, loyal, and reliable, yet until a worker joins an organization, managers are unable to observe this behavior directly. Instead, research suggests, hiring managers use employment history to gauge a job candidate’s work attitude, including the ability to work well with others. (Springwise 6/22/16)


Global Restrictions on Religion According to the most Pew Research data the share of countries with governments imposing high or very high levels of restrictions on religion dropped from 28% in ‛13 to 24% in ‛14. The Middle East-North Africa region continued to have the highest share of countries with religion-related terrorism (90%) among the report’s 5 regions, although the Asia-Pacific region saw the biggest increase in the share of countries that experienced religion-related terrorism, rising to 44% in ‛14 vs. 36% in ‛13. There has been a marked increase in the number of countries where Jews were harassed either by govern­ments or social groups. Religion-related terrorism displaced over 2 million more people in ‛14 than in ‛13, a side effect of increased terrorist activity. Also, 31.4 million people were displaced because of religion-related war or armed conflict, 4.1 million more than in ‛13 (27.3 million). (Pew Fact Tank 6/23/16)


20 Facts about Unchurched People  1. Unchurched People were often deeply affected as children by the actions of their parents and their view of God. 2. They were often judged harshly by those in roles of spiritual authority. 3. They often watched Christians treat each other harshly. 4. They are unclear on what is needed to go to Heaven. 5. They have seen poor Christian leadership modeled for them. 6. They think Christianity is religion and rules vs. a relationship. 7. They raise children in light of how they were raised. 8. They are impressed with excellence in worship even if they do not understand it or believe everything being communicated. 9. They have no idea how much God truly loves them. 10. They believe in God, but do not know how to gain His favor. 11. They have legitimate faith questions. 12. They often experience tremendous amounts of guilt. 13. Like everyone, they have faced many challenges as adults. 14. They questioned God when tragedy struck. 15. They’re most likely to come to church if invited by a friend. 16. They often do not sing. 17. They will return the next Sunday if they like the pastor. 18. They enjoy messages that “demystify” the Bible. 19. They will slowly get involved through small groups and places they can serve. 20. Their hearts melt when they see their kids loving church and singing, even if they do not. (Church Leaders, Brian Dodd, 6/23/16)


Savvy Marketers realize that it is because many marketers cut ad spending during a recession that a recession is the best and least expensive time to gain market share through advertising. Publishers are more open to negotiating deals. Plus, there is less competition as others reduce or eliminate ad budgets. This is the time to brand yourself as the leader in your category. Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Verizon, News Corp, Wal-Mart and PepsiCo have all increased their ad spending. Call on me for “grow in the tough times” strategy plan.  419-238-4082, or (Marketing Daily 8/27/08)


Cohabitation Is New Norm Shifting gender roles and expectations, the delay of marriage, and a secularizing culture are leading more American adults to believe moving in together before marriage is a good idea. A recent Barna study finds 65% either strongly or somewhat agree it’s a good idea to live with one’s significant other before getting married, vs. 35% who either strongly or somewhat disagree. A disturbing 41% of practicing Christians believe cohabitation is a good idea vs, 88% of those who identify as having no faith. 72% of Millennials vs. 36% of Elders believe it is good. The idea that living with one’s significant other before getting married would be convenient (9%), or it would save rent (5%) pale in comparison to the value of testing compatibility (84%) by playing house before marriage. Among those who believe living with one’s significant other before getting married is not a good idea, the biggest reason is religious reasons (34%). 28% oppose cohabitation because they want to wait for sex until marriage, 16% for practicality, 12% due to valuing of family and tradition and 10% other. 57% of U.S. adults either currently, or have previously lived with their boyfriend/girlfriend. (Barna Group 6/24/16)


Americans Who Don’t Go to Church are happy to talk about religion and often think about the meaning of life. They’re also open to taking part in community service events hosted at a church or going to a church concert finds a recent LifeWay Research study sponsored by the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College. More than half of Americans who don’t regularly go to church identify as Christians. Unchurched Americans aren’t hostile to faith; they just don’t think church is for them. 67% are white. 62% went to church regularly as a child. 53% are male. 47% have a high school diploma or less. 32% consider themselves nonreligious. 20% identify as Protestant and 25% as Catholic. 47% say they discuss religion freely if the topic comes up. 31% say they listen without responding, while 11% change the subject. 35% say someone has explained the benefits of being a Christian to them. (Baptist Press 6/29/16)


Unchurched Americans Thoughts on Heaven 70% agree there’s an ultimate plan and purpose for every person. 57% say it’s important for them to find their deeper purpose in life. Just 43% ever ponder on a regular basis if they’ll go to heaven when they die. (Christianity Today 6/28/16)


Children @ Risk The journal Depression Research and Treatment analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health that showed the percentage of adult children of same-sex partners reporting ongoing depression was nearly triple that of adult children of heterosexual parents (51% vs. 22%). The study also found obesity more than twice as prevalent in adult children of same-sex partners (72% vs. 31%). More children of same-sex partners reported physical and/or emotional and/or sexual violence against them in greater numbers than children of heterosexual parents. (LifeSite News 6/30/16)



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