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 25, 2018 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


Why Are Millennial Parents Exiting The Church? Studies show church attendance among 22-35 year-olds is the lowest in recent history. Only 20% of people under 30 believe attending a church is important or worthwhile (an all-time low). 59% of Millennials raised in the church have dropped out. 35% of Millennials have an anti-church stance, believing the church does more harm than good. Millennials are the least likely age group of anyone to attend church. Experts agree these are 2 of the biggest reasons: 1. We aren’t including them in planning the future of the church. They want the opportunity to speak into the direction, strategies and vision of the church and refuse to be a part of a church that ignores their input. 2. We’re talking it, but not walking it. Millennial parents want to change the world and are drawn to churches with that focus. They also want their kids involved. ( 6/24/18)


Gen Z is the Least Christian Generation, finds a recent Barna study. Fewer U.S. teens than adults believe core theological tenets of the Christian faith and teens that do make orthodox faith claims are not as sure about them as adults. More than 90% of engaged Christian parents (identify as Christian, regularly attend church and have orthodox beliefs) say it is important their child “is equipped to explain the Christian faith” and is “engaged in service.” 59% say it’s their responsibility to teach these to their children while 36% say it’s mostly them, with the help of church leaders. They approach this in a variety of ways, including attending church together (89%), praying together (59%), reading/discussing the Bible together (45%) and volunteering/serving with a ministry together (44%).(Barna Update 7/17/18)


Having Kids Changes Everything, according to Lasting, a marriage health app that so far has over 125,000 respondents (most ages 20-35 or in their first 15 years of marriage) to its marital health survey. Couples without kids tend to report being more satisfied with their marriages than couples with kids. Analysis of responses found if you respond positively to 86% of your partner’s emotional calls, you’ll have a healthy, thriving marriage. ( 6/28/18)


Shoestring Marketing In this time of tight budgets where both entrepreneurs and customers are increasingly reluctant to part with a penny, it is more important than ever that small and mid-sized organizations step up marketing. Recessions are times to expand, not contract. Most entrepreneurs instinctively know this and it is why the trend now is toward increased marketing that costs little but delivers big, e.g. online video, blogs, coupons, word-of-mouth, direct-mail and customer service. Let me craft a shoestring marketing plan for you. 419-238-4082, Gary or (USA Today 1/5/09)


High Schoolers at Risk A recent CDC study found sexual minority students (those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, as well as those who are unsure of their sexual identity and those who have sexual contact with people of the same or both sexes) are significantly more likely to be sexually active, use drugs, become the victims of violence, experience mental health issues and consider suicide. A previous study by Barna Group shows teens in Generation Z are at least twice as likely as American adults to identify as LGBT or as atheist. (Facts & Trends 7/2/18)


The Share of Religiously Unaffiliated adults in several Western European countries is comparable to the share of religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S., but American “nones” are more religious than their European counter-parts. 23% Americans say they are atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” similar to the UK (23%) and Germany (24%). But, unaffiliated Americans are much more likely than their counterparts in Europe to pray and to believe in God, just as U.S. Christians are considerably more religious than Christians across Western Europe. In fact, by some of these measures of religious commitment, American “nones” are as religious as (or even more religious than) Christians in several European countries, including France, Germany and the UK. (Pew Research Center 5/29/18)


Churchgoers Agree With Church’s Teaching 52% of U.S. churchgoers say their beliefs are completely aligned with those of the church, 42% say their beliefs are mostly aligned while fewer than 3% say their beliefs are slightly aligned, not aligned or they don’t know their church’s beliefs. 35% of those with graduate degrees are less likely to accept all their church's teachings say their beliefs are completely aligned and 60% say they are mostly aligned. 62% of churchgoers who have evangelical beliefs say they are completely aligned with their church’s theology and 33% are mostly aligned. 39% of those who don’t have evangelical beliefs say they are completely aligned and 53% are mostly aligned. 60% of churchgoers at big churches (1,000+ attenders) say they are completely aligned with their church's theology vs. 46% at churches with fewer than 50. 54% of all churchgoers say they’d seriously consider leaving if church doctrine changed. 48% would change churches if the churchgoer moved to a new home, 19% if the preaching style changed, 12% if the pastor left, 10% if a family member wanted a new church, 9% would leave over politics, 6% if they didn't feel needed, 5% if the music style changed, 4% if they had a conflict and 3% if a friend stopped attending. (Baptist Press 6/26/18)


Where Do You Want to Be Tomorrow? You can’t navigate a ship by studying the wind and waves. Fix your gaze on your goal—a non-negotiable, fixed position that can never change. Let that be your lighthouse, your reference point, your North Star. Now point to your North Star so that I can see it and I can help you chart the course. Contact 419-238-4082, or  (Monday Morning Memo 3/1/10)


Extramarital sex Today, according to Gallup, 69% of U.S. adults say sex between an unmarried man and woman is morally acceptable. That’s up from 53% in both ’01 and ’02. Sex between teens has also grown more socially acceptable. In ’13, 32% said it was morally acceptable vs. 42% today. 65% say having a baby out of marriage is morally acceptable vs. 45% in ’02. Today 10% believe adultery is morally acceptable vs. 4% in ’01. (Facts & Trends 6/6/18)


Global Decline in Religious Commitment In 46 countries, adults under age 40 are less likely to say religion is “very important” in their lives than are older adults, the opposite is true in only 2 countries, finds recent Pew research. While the size of the age gap varies from country to country, averaging the national results in each of the countries surveyed yields a clear global picture: 51% of younger adults in the average country consider religion to be very important, compared with 57% among people 40 and older. Younger respondents are less likely to identify with any religion in 41 countries. However, in sub-Saharan Africa (which has the world’s fastest population growth), 88% of younger adults and 89% of older adults say religion is very important in their lives. (Pew Fact Tank 6/13/18)


How Can Churches Help People Grow More? A recent LifeWay Research study of U.S. churchgoers received these suggestions: 27% want their church to help them understand more about God and the Bible. 20% want their church to help them find new ways to serve. 19% want it to provide more Bible study groups. 16% want it 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% want it to provide worship experiences that fit their needs. 9% want it to provide more interaction with the pastor. 8% want their church to provide them with a mentor. (Baptist Press 6/26/18)


In Debt According to David Ramsey’s Financial Peace Univ. research, this generation is the most indebted in history. The average American couple has $15,000 in credit card debt, $592 for monthly automobile payments and $36,000 in student debt. Debt causes seemingly small issues to escalate for both single parents and married couples. (Baptist Press 6/19/18)


Every Month 255 Christians are killed, 180 Christian women are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage and 160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned.

( 6/26/18)


Troubled Teens 31.5% of U.S. high school students say they’ve experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, according to a recent CDC study. 17.2% say they’ve seriously considered attempting suicide, while 13.6% say they’ve made a suicide plan, 7.4% have attempted it and 2.4% were injured in an attempt. The percentage of students who say they’ve experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness has increased by 3 percentage points since ’07. The percentage of students who’ve seriously considered attempting suicide has increased by 2.7 percentage points, while the percentage of those who’ve made a suicide plan has increased by 2.3 percentage points. Among those 10-34, suicide is the second leading cause of death. (Facts & Trends 6/26/18)


How Do You Spell Success? A Strayer Univ. study found 90% of Americans believe happiness is a bigger indicator of success than power, possessions or prestige. 67% define success as “good relationships with friends and family” and 60% said it is loving what you do for a living. Only 20% stated monetary wealth determines success. ( 6/3/18)


Regular Churchgoers Stay Put LifeWay Research study of Protestant churchgoers (those who attend at least once a month) found 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%). Evangelicals are more likely to be completely committed (67%) than those who don’t have evangelical beliefs (45%). 63% of churchgoers 65 or older are completely committed to attending their same church in the future vs. 50% of those younger than 35. 92% of older churchgoers have not even thought about going to another church in their area. (Baptist Press 6/26/18)


Opportunity in Crisis Did you know the Chinese character for ‘crisis’ is the same one as for ‘opportunity’? It raises the question: How can we find the opportunity in crisis or chaos? Although chaos and chaotic systems appear to be random and out of control, patterns emerge and suggest or actually reveal an inherent order at the heart of seeming chaos. Understanding this is the first step toward finding the pattern of order that waits beneath the facade of a chaotic situation. However, often it takes fresh eyes—objective eyes—to find it. Let me help you find opportunity in your crisis! Contact 419-238-4082, or visit (Ivy SeaZine 2/10/09)


Who Uses the Bible Most? City dwellers (53%) and small town or rural (49%) residents report higher use of the Bible than do adults who reside in the suburbs (42%). Above- average use can also be found among residents of the South (55%) vs. the Northeast (42%), the West (44%) and the Midwest (49%). Millennials (47%), Gen X (45%) and Elders (48%) are slightly less likely to use the Bible than Boomers (51%). (American Bible Society’s 2018 State of the Bible Survey)


Americans Ponder How the Bible Applies to Life 53% of U.S. adults who used the Bible in the past week say they give a lot of thought to how it might apply to their lives. (Barna Update 7/10/18)


48% of Americans Are Bible Users, that is, they engage with the Bible on their own by using, listening to, watching, praying or using Bible text or content in any format (not including use at a church service) at least 3 to 4 times a year. Bible use has remained relatively consistent since ’11. Adults who use the Bible daily account for 14% of the total adult population, followed by 13% who use it several times a week, 8% who do so once a week, 6% about once a month and 8% who use it 3 to 4 times a year. (Barna Update 7/10/18)


Fewer Teens Giving Birth In 1991, the birth rate among American women aged 15 -19 was 61.8 births per 1,000 women, according to the National Vital Statistics Report. Since ’91, the rate of teens giving birth has decreased 67%, and it’s reached a new low each year since ’09. This resulted in 20.3 births per 1,000 among 15-19 year-old women giving birth in ’16. (Facts & Trends 6/27/18)


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