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, 2019 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


Moral Values Are Poor and Getting Worse Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll also reveals 47% of Americans rate the country’s moral values as “poor,” down from 49% last year. Only 17% of people rate U.S. values as “excellent” or “good.” 77% of Americans say the country’s values are getting worse, a figure that has held steady 3 years in a row. (The high was 82% in ’07.) Only 19% say the country’s values are improving. (Church Leaders 6/19)

Religion’s Protective Benefits Religious involvement appears to be a “protective factor” for teens, according to a recent Harvard study. Possible reasons include religion’s emphasis on personal virtue and self-control, practices that encourage respect for the body and “active coping” and the social support and adult role models typically found within a congregation. (Church Leaders 9/21/18)


Preferred Bible Format When asked to choose a single format they most prefer, 72% of Bible users still prefer to read a physical copy of the Bible. Their preference for print out-numbers their preference for smartphones or tablet app nearly four to one (19%). Less than 5% prefer an online or audio resource. All Bible users, regardless of age, prefer a print version of the Bible. However, 27% of Millennials and 26% of Gen X adults prefer to use their phone or tablet vs. 9% of Boomers and 2% of Elders. Just 15% of whites prefer a smartphone vs. 28% of African Americans, 28% of Asians and 24% of Hispanics. (State of the Bible 2019, American Bible Society)


The Important Question during a downturn isn’t whether or not the economy will recover. It will; it always does. What’s important to ask is whether your organization will be in position to surge as the economy begins to grow. It won’t be marketing as usual. You will need to make strategic decisions about choosing new media, entering new markets and positioning products. Now is the time to establish marketing plans for the recovery: formulate strategies, design campaigns and make media choices so you are ready to go when you have marketing funds to invest. I can help you get ready. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or (Performance Insider 10/15/09)


The Center Of Christianity Currently, Christianity is barely growing in Europe (0.04% rate) and only slightly better in North America (0.56%). Oceania (0.89) and Latin America (1.18%) have marginally better rates, but the faith is exploding in Asia (1.89%) and Africa (2.89%). (Facts & Trends 6/11/19)


#1 Killer of African Americans According to U.S. Census data, blacks make up only 13% of the population, yet more than 30% of aborted babies are from black mothers. “It is the number one killer of all African-Americans in the nation,” says Church of God in Christ’s Leslie Monet. “You can add cancer. You can add AIDS. You can add car accidents, homicides, crime, shooting. Name the gamut and put those together and it will not equal the amount of lives that we lose to abortion.” (CBN News 7/8/19)


Measuring the Generosity of Evangelicals, a recent Dunham+Company poll, 71% of evangelicals said they give to charitable organizations each year. Only 55% of the general population says the same. Boomers and matures (78%) were the generational groups most likely to say they give to charities annually. However, millennial evangelicals (68%) were slightly more likely than their Gen X counter-parts (63%) to do so. Millennial evangelicals were the most likely to say they would increase the amount that they give to charities (34%) vs. 21% of Gen X and 12% of boomers and matures. 40% of evangelicals prefer to donate through a church’s website or mobile app, while 32% prefer giving through check or mail. (Christian Post 5/22/19)


Divorce is deemed morally acceptable by 77% of U.S. adults in Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll, up 10 points from ’12. Although 91% of “very liberal” and “liberal” respondents say divorce is OK, only 67% of those who consider themselves “very conservative” and “conservative” say it’s OK. Likewise, 71% of respondents say sex between an unmarried man and woman is morally acceptable, with 87% of liberals but only 54% of conservatives taking that stand. (Church Leaders 6/19)


Acts of Service and More 74% of regular Protestant churchgoers see their acts of service as a way to also get to know others. 33% strongly agree that when they have the opportunity to serve someone, they also try to get to know the person better. Women (35%) are more likely to strongly agree than men (30%). Regular churchgoers with less than a college degree (36%) are more likely to strongly agree than those who have a bachelor’s degree or higher (29%). Weekly worship service attenders (35%) are more likely to strongly agree than less frequent attenders (28%). (Baptist Press 6/5/19)


Heaven, Hell & Spiritual Energy 66% of U.S. adults believe in heaven vs. 18% who do not believe and another 15% who aren’t sure. Overall, 57% of Americans affirm a belief in hell, while 26% reject that belief and another 17% aren’t sure. 39% believe in the power of physical objects, such as mountains, trees, or crystals while 36% say this is not something they believe in while 25% aren’t sure. Generatio-nally, Gen X is more likely to regard heaven and hell as real compared to other generations. Millennials are significantly more likely to believe in the spiritual energy in trees, mountains and crystals than other generations. African Americans are more likely than other ethnicities to have faith in each if the 3 items presented. Women are more likely to believe in heaven and spiritual energy and express higher levels of uncertainty than men when it comes to a belief in hell. (State of the Bible 2019, American Bible Society)


Married Couples have Fewer Forgiveness Barriers When Barna Group asked which outcomes characterize real forgiveness; married individuals were significantly more likely than others to prioritize peacemaking. 61% of married respondents said not seeking punishment or retribution is a key element of forgiveness, while 51% of those who have never been married agreed. 72% of married individuals said forgiveness is about repaired relationships, plain and simple vs. 62% of those who have never married. Meanwhile, these single practicing Christians have a different boundary in mind; they are more likely than married practicing Christians to say forgiveness may mean restoring a relationship without forgetting the offense (30% vs. 22%). Couples appear to encounter fewer barriers to giving forgiveness. 33% of never-married practicing Christians said there is someone they don’t want to forgive vs. 24% of married practicing Christians. Similarly, 28% of never-married singles also said there’s someone they just can’t forgive vs. 21% of married individuals. When asked if there was something for which a person had yet to accept forgiveness, 19% of married practicing Christians, compared to 30% of singles, said yes. (Barna 6/11/19)


The Baby Boomer population will grow by 25% in the next decade while other segments remain flat. As the U.S. population grows older it becomes more multicultural, busier than ever and increasingly cynical toward traditional sales pitches. Communications and creative strategies need to address these facts. I can help you ensure your strategy is on target. Contact 419-238-4082, or (Direct 10/07)


The Marriage Divide Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the Univ. of Virginia, highlighted that divide in a ’17 study: “College-educated and more affluent Americans enjoy relatively strong and stable marriages and the economic and social benefits that flow from such marriages. By contrast, not just poor but also working-class Americans face rising rates of family instability, single parenthood and life-long singleness. Their families are increasingly fragile and poor and working-class Americans pay a serious economic, social and psychological price for the fragility of their families.” (Facts & Trends 6/18/19)


Illicit Drug Use Surges A recent meta-analysis study by William Jeynes, a senior fellow at Princeton’s Witherspoon Institute, of the effects of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, amphetamines, hallucinogens, opioids and illegal drugs overall. The numbers are alarming. There is a serious disconnect between the actual results of taking these drugs and the perception by young people that they do little harm at all. The strong relationship between taking these drugs and acts of violence both against others and oneself is particularly disconcerting. The impact of consuming any type of drug that is largely obtained illegally is decidedly negative and substantial. Over 70,000 Americans die each year from drug overdoses. 75% of child and spousal abuse is drug or alcohol related. The increased legalization of marijuana in various states is leading to a very predictable outcome, i.e., the drug cartels are simply shipping an increasingly large amount of hard drugs to bolster their profits. The ‘war on drugs’ of the ’80s and early ’90s may not have reduced the problem to a great degree, but since this effort was lifted, the level of drug usage and overdoses has surged. What the war on drugs did was moderately reduce the use of these drugs rather than having it continue to surge. (RNS 6/17/19)


Spiritual Conversations According to the 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment study from LifeWay Research, 15% of Protestant churchgoers strongly assert that matters of faith are a part of their regular conversations with fellow believers.

In total, 39% disagreed with the statement: “Spiritual matters do not tend to come up as a normal part of my daily conversations with other Christians.” 26% aren’t sure, while 35% agree that when they talk with other Christians, religious issues don’t usually come up. Females (17%) are more likely than males (11%) to strongly indicate they regularly have conversations with other Christians about spiritual matters. Hispanics (19%) and African Americans (18%) are more likely than whites (13%) to strongly affirm faith issues come up in their daily conversations with other Christians. Evangelical Protestants (17%) and black Protestants (15%) are also more likely than mainline Protestants (7%). Just 9% of churchgoers, 18-34 indicate spiritual matters are topics of daily conversations with other Christians. (Facts & Trends 6/20/19)


Time for Courage When times are good and money is abundant; it’s easy to coast on yesterday’s reputation. You’ve seen it happen. But when there’s not enough business to go around, the rules revert to “survival of the fittest.” This is when courageous little companies leapfrog their traditional masters and leave them behind on the trail. I can help make sure you are a thriving survivor. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or

(Monday Morning Memo from Wizard of Ads)


Discipleship 65% of U.S. Protestant pastors say they are satisfied with the state of discipleship and spiritual formation in their local church, while 78% indicate there’s room for improvement. 66% agree they are satisfied with discipleship, 44% are not regularly evaluating discipleship progress to inform that opinion. 83% have an intentional plan for discipleship. (Outreach 5/5/19)


Visible Faith Most Protestant churchgoers say others know they are Christians, but fewer are very confident in that perception, finds LifeWay Research’s 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment. 62% of Christians disagree with the statement, “Many people who know me are not aware I am a Christian.” 42% of women strongly indicate people who know them are aware they are a Christian vs. 27% of men. (Facts & Trends 6/20/19)


Pervasive Faith LifeWay Research’s 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment finds 66% of Protestant disagree with the statement, “Many aspects of who I am have nothing to do with God,” with 44% strongly disagreeing, while 18% aren’t sure and 16% agree. 51% of female churchgoers disagree vs. 35% of males. 34% of churchgoers (18-34) disagree. The majority of churchgoers indicate there are more aspects of who they are that can be better connected to God. (Facts & Trends 6/20/19)


Prayer Changes Things According to a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, children and teenagers who attend religious services and pray or meditate on their own are likely to experience lasting mental and physical health benefits. (Church Leaders 9/21/18)


Religious Beliefs and Family Relationships Overall, 85% of people who describe themselves as being a religious person believe their religious beliefs help them at least somewhat in relationships with their family, including 55% who deduce that these beliefs help them a lot. Only 12% believe their religious beliefs help them a little, compared to just 3% who assert that these beliefs are not at all helpful. (State of the Bible 2019, American Bible Society)


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