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

June 10, 2019 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


Comfort, Narcissism, Doubt are the biggest challenges to reaching and evangelizing the rising generation and the millennial generation, according to Gospel Coalition panel of youth evangelism experts. (Christian Post 4/2/19)


More Unmarried U.S. Parents Among parents living with a child, the share who are unmarried increased from 7% in 1968 to 25% in ’17. It is partly due to a growing share of unmarried parents cohabiting (35% in ’17). Over the same period, the share of U.S. children living with an unmarried parent more than doubled, from 13% in 1968 to 32% in ’17. Stay-at-home parents now account for 18% of parents, roughly similar to 25 years ago. 12% of all parents with a child under 18 at home are also caring for an adult. 53% of Americans say people will be less likely to get married in the year 2050 and 46% say they will be less likely to have children. (Outreach 5/9/19)


What Is The Greatest Command? As part of the American Bible Society and Barna Research’s State of the Bible 2019, respondents were given 5 prominent biblical commands and asked which one was the most important. 46% of American Bible users chose “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God,” taken from Micah 6:8. 36% picked “love your neighbor as yourself,” a Leviticus 19:18 reference that Jesus included in His summary of the Old Testament law. Just 8% cited the biblical directive of go and make disciples, 5% take care of the earth and 2% care for widows and orphans. (Facts & Trends 5/1/19)


Blockbusters vs. Building Blocks It’s the blockbusters that get all the hype…the home runs, the viral videos, the hits. It’s the sudden shifts, the ideas that change everything, the fell swoops. Fell swoops seem like they’re worth chasing, but a hit isn’t a strategy, it’s an event. Nice work if you can get it, but hard to plan on or build on. It takes patience to avoid planning on swoops. It’s more productive to live in a house built out of bricks, one at a time, day by day. Let me help you in that process. 419-238-4082, or (Seth Godin 5/21/19)


Most Protestant Churchgoers Don’t Walk the Talk The 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment from LifeWay Research found excitement and eagerness about the idea of evangel-ism, but few Protestant churchgoers actually engaged in the practice on a regular basis. 55% of those who attend church at least once a month say they have not shared with someone how to become a Christian in the past 6 months. 56% say they pray for opportunities to tell others about Jesus at least once a week, with 23% praying for such moments every day. 27% say they rarely or never pray for those opportunities. Those with a high school diploma or less are most likely to say they pray for those opportunities every day (31%). Those who attend worship on average once a week (75%) are more likely than those who do so less frequently (69%) to pray at least once a month. 56% also say they are eager to talk about Jesus with people while 16% disagree. Those 65 and older are the age group least likely to strongly agree they are eager to share the gospel with those different from themselves (20%). Hispanics (40%) and African Americans (32%) are more likely to strongly agree than whites (23%). (Facts & Trends 4/23/19)

Anxiety and Depression are on the rise among America’s youth and, whether they personally suffer from these conditions or not, 7 in 10 teens see them as major problems among their peers. When it comes to the pressures teens face, academics top the list: 61% of teens say they feel a lot of pressure to get good grades. By comparison, 28% say they feel a lot of pressure to look good, 29% to fit in socially and 20% to be involved in extracurricular activities and to be good at sports. Although about half see drug addiction and alcohol consumption as major problems among peers, just 4% say they personally feel a lot of pressure to use drugs and 6% to drink alcohol. (Pew Social Trends 2/20/19)


Suicides by Young Americans rose by nearly a third in the month following the ’17 debut of popular Netflix television drama series, 13 Reasons Why, in which a teenage girl kills herself, finds a National Institutes of Health study. The rate of suicide in April ’17 was 28.9% higher among U.S. youth 10 to 17 than would be expected based on counts and trends observed in previous years. Also rates of suicide for 10 to 17-year-olds were higher the rest of the year. (Yahoo Entertainment 4/19/19)


Kindness Is The Most Important Trait when it comes to being a ‘good’ Christian finds a new YouGov and Yahoo UK poll. The poll asked people which trait they think is most important for someone to show in order to be deemed a ‘good’ Christian. The most popular answer was kindness, with 35% of people picking it as the most important quality for a Christian; though considerably more women said kindness than men (42% vs 27%). Love is the second most selected choice (14%), followed by goodness (11%), faithfulness (6%) with joy, peace, patience, gentleness and self-control (each 5% or less). It’s interesting that we continually frame the idea about being a ‘good’ Christian, about being a ‘good’ person and doing kind things and being nice. In reality, as Christians we all mess it up continually, we get it wrong, we’re hypocritical. We foul it up on a second-by-second basis, we are not perfect people. (Yahoo News 4/26/19)


Bible Curiosity 63% of Americans have at least some curiosity to know more about what the Bible says, including 29% who express a strong desire. 61% of adults also are interested in knowing more about who Jesus Christ is, including 29% who agree strongly. Predictably, those most engaged with the Bible have a greater curiosity to know more about the Bible and about Jesus. African Americans, Hispanics, residents of the South and Bible Friendly adults are most likely to express curiosity about Jesus or the Bible. (State of the Bible 2019, American Bible Society)


Millennials Are the Largest Adult Generation in the U.S., but they are starting to share the spotlight with Gen Z. This year, millennials (23 to 38) will outnumber boomers (55 to 73), according to Census Bureau projections. Although the 73 million millennials are the largest living adult generation, Gen (ages 7 to 22) are on track to be the best-educated and most diverse generation yet; 48% are racial or ethnic minorities. (Outreach 5/9/19)


Where Teens Go for Tough Conversations Practicing Christian teens say mothers are the go-to person for all kinds of support: advice (78%), encouragement (75%) and sympathy (72%). Fathers play a key role in meeting teens’ tangible needs for money (74%) and logistical help (63%). In the impressionable middle and high school years, even conversations about sex (41%) aren’t off limits between teens and moms. 30% of boys and 48% of girls talk about this with their mom while 50% of boys and 10% of girls discuss the topic with their dad. Christian teens also primarily seek out mothers’ opinions on questions of faith (72%) or the Bible (71%), as well as things that might be troubling them (78%). (Households of Faith, Lutheran Hour Ministries)


Tough Marketing Problem Count on me for a cost effective solution. Contact 419-238-4082, or or (The Foster Network)


Religion Influences Intimacy According to a new Brigham Young Univ. study published in the academic journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality about religion and sex life, couples who engage in faith-based activities at home (e.g. read the Bible) and view their marriage relationship as sacred report higher sexual satisfaction in their sex life than couples who aren’t religious or who merely attend religious services together. The researchers propose mutual religious activities may increase “opportunities for emotional closeness,” which “may help foster improved physical intimacy and sexual satisfaction.” In turn, that nurtures the marriage bonds and may “shift…how spouses both think and act toward their spouse in ways that potentially enhance multiple aspects of the relationship.” (Church Leaders 4/24/19)


Americans Believe Bible Transforms Lives 59% of U.S. adults believe the message of the Bible has transformed their lives, including 26% who agree strongly. 42% say the Bible has not had such an impact on them. (Barna Group 4/18/19)


Frustrations with Bible Use The most common top frustration when it comes to reading the Bible is not having enough time to use it (19%). 8% cite language that is difficult to relate to followed by not knowing where to start (6%), not feeling excited to use it (6%) and a lack of understanding for the background or history of the Bible (4%). 25% of Americans report not having any frustrations when it comes to using the Bible. (State of the Bible 2019, American Bible Society)


Reasons Visitors Return to Your Church Here are 5 key reasons people come back to your church after Easter or any other big day from Rick Warren. 1. You’ve shown them you love them. We earn the right to share the good news by being the good news. 2. You have collected contact information. You can’t follow up with guests unless you have a way to engage them after the service. 3. You’ve reached out to them after they attended. It’s not enough to just have contact information. You need to use it! 4. You’ve got them in a small group or connected them to a ministry. People come back when they make a friend and get a responsibility. 5. You have a system in place to assimilate people into the life of the church. This is the most important part of retaining your guests for the long term. (Rick Warren, Outreach 4/19/19)


How To Grow little companies and ministries into big ones. 1. Focus What are we trying to make happen? How will we measure success? See it clearly. Say it plainly. 2. Evaluate What is the competitive environment? Do we understand the felt needs of our prospective customer? What is holding us back? Name the limiting factors. 3. Prioritize When two of our goals come into conflict, which one bows the knee? Prioritize our objectives. 4. Strategize What would be the shortest route to our primary goal? What levers might we use to dislodge impediments? How might we nullify other limiting factors? Are we willing to modify the business model? This is the moment when the future is won or lost. 5. Implement Are we willing to pull the trigger? Quit talking and DO something. Nothing changes until action is taken. For more, contact me at 419-238-4082, or (Monday Morning Memo 9/3/07)


People Who Claim They’ve Seen God A Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study found that those who have had divine encounter experiences (the sensation of seeing a God-like figure or a profound, enhanced reality or truth) reap lasting mental benefits. Lead researcher Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., stated, “And although modern Western medicine doesn’t typically consider ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ experiences as one of the tools in the arsenal against sickness, our findings suggest that these encounters often lead to improvements in mental health.” Researchers found 75% of people who had an encounter say it was among the most “meaningful and spiritually significant” moments in their lives, so much so that it brought about permanent positive changes in their life satisfaction, purpose and meaning. In fact, the experience was so powerful that about two-thirds of self-identified atheists shed that label after their encounter. (PLOS|ONE Journal 4/23/19)


Favorable Emotions When Using the Bible A feeling of peace again topped the chart with 46% of adults who said using the Bible made them feel peaceful followed by a feeling of encouragement (40%), feeling hopeful (33%), receiving a sense of direction (31%), made them happy (24%) and felt intrigued 12% . (State of the Bible 2019, American Bible Society)


Poisoning Attempts by Girls ages 10-12 have increased 268% in the last 7 years. 29,000 girls 16-18 poisoned themselves in ’18. While men and boys are more likely to employ violent means when attempting suicide, girls and women are far more likely to ingest pills or other forms of poison. Whether its childhood trauma, screen time, social media anxiety or performance pressure, the reality is today’s kids are migrating to self-harm in alarming numbers. It’s past time we debunk the myth that talking about suicide and self-harm will lead to suicide and self-harm. It doesn’t. Start the conversation today with your kids. (Culture Translator 5/3/19)


Bible Users 48% of all U.S. adults are Bible users, that is, they engage with the Bible at least 3 to 4 times a year on their own by using, listening to, watching, praying or using Bible text outside of a church service. 16% use the Bible every day, 14% several times a week, 9% of once a week, 7% once a month, 6% who use it 3-4 times a year, 18% less often and 31% never use the Bible. 85% of adults who have attended church in the past week report using the Bible on their own vs. 71% of monthly attenders and 49% who attended in the past 6 months. 21% of unchurched adults are Bible users. (State of the Bible 2019, American Bible Society)


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