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 25, 2019 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


Social Media Can Harm Moms Research shows mothers who frequently compare themselves to others on social media feel more depressed, less competent and less positive about their co-parenting relationships. Yet 45% of mothers who use social media “strongly agree” they get support from friends on social networks. (USA Today 5/9/19)


Forgiveness A Barna survey found 76% of practicing Christians say they’ve offered unconditional forgiveness to another person who had hurt, upset or sinned against them or someone they loved. However, 15% say they’ve never offered this type of forgiveness, while 9% aren’t sure. Fewer say they’ve actually received this type of forgiveness from others. 55% say someone else has forgiven them unconditionally. 38% say they’ve never experienced this from someone else and 7% don’t know. Among those who have received forgiveness, 87% say they have given it in return vs. 64% who say they have not received unconditional forgiveness. 22% of practicing Christians find it difficult to receive forgiveness for something they’ve personally done wrong. 60% can identify someone they are struggling to forgive, including 23% who say there is someone they “can’t forgive.” 81% believe offering undeserved mercy to someone else is an action God blesses. (Facts & Trends 5/3/190


Americans’ Views 64% of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of the Israeli people vs. just 41% who have a favorable view of the Israeli government; 51% views the government unfavorably. (Pew Research Center 4/24/19)


Communicate According to a Watson Wyatt Worldwide survey, U.S. worker confidence in senior management declined between ’04 and ’05 from 51% to 49%. Confidence that senior management makes changes to stay competitive dropped from 57% to 53% and control costs fell from 59% to 55%. Where senior management is “highly engaged” with its workforce, confidence levels actually rose as much as 30 points. I can help you transform your workforce through a cost-effective frequent communication strategy. Reach me at 419-238-4082, or (CFO 3/07)


Many Americans Pray Every Day Out of 102 countries examined for frequency of prayer by Pew Research Center, the U.S. is unique in that it has both a high level of wealth ($56,000 per-capita gross domestic product in ’15) and a high level of daily prayer among its population (55% according to the ’14 U.S. Religious Landscape Study). (Pew Research Center 5/1/19)


Anchor Baby Boom An analysis of United States Census Bureau statistics revealed that nearly 300,000 “anchor babies” (children born to illegal aliens in the U.S.) add to the U.S. population annually, with about 20% of all births in America being born to legal or illegal immigrants. About 124,000 of these anchor babies have been born in the U.S. in the first 5 months of ’19, that’s nearly 25,000 per month or more than in any state other than California and Texas. Today, there are at least 4.5 million anchor babies in the U.S., exceeding the annual 4 million American babies born every year and costing American taxpayers about $2.4 billion every year to subsidize hospital costs. (One News Now 6/9/19)


Where to Find Answers to Bible Questions Asked where Americans would turn to if they had a question about faith or the Bible, most predict they would turn to clergy members, a family member or the Bible itself. Adults who are already engaged in Bible use are more likely than those who are not to turn to the Bible. 76% of Bible Centered and 58% of Bible Engaged adults would turn to the Bible, compared to 44% of Bible Friendlies, 36% of Bible Neutrals, 11% of Disengaged and 5% of Skeptics. Elders are most likely to turn to clergy members, while Millennials are least likely to do so (52% and 17% respectively). (State of the Bible 2019, American Bible Society)


Christianity Is Growing Faster Than The Population Globally, Christianity is growing at a 1.27% rate. Currently, there are 2.5 billion Christians in the world. The world’s population, 7.7 billion, is growing at a 1.20% rate. Islam (1.95%), Sikhs (1.66%) and Hindus (1.30%) are the only religious groups growing faster than Christianity, though followers of Jesus outnumber every other faith and are predicted to continue to do so at least through 2050. (Facts & Trends 6/11/19)


Moms & Teens Connect Today’s Christian teen consistently identifies their mother as the principal housemate for almost all activities: from eating meals together (85%), watching TV or movies (81%), to talking about God (70%), having confrontations (63%) and mothers are the primary activity partner for their teens. They are second only to friendships even when it comes to using their phones for texting (69% mothers vs. 73% friendships) and calling (61% vs. 71%). The only time mothers are not leading the way is when it comes to activities like interacting on social media or playing sports, both dominated by friendships. (Households of Faith, Lutheran Hour Ministries)


Financially Optimistic 56% of Americans rate their current financial situation as “excellent” (12%) or “good” (44%), while 29% rate it as “only fair” and 15% as “poor.” This positive rating has increased 10 percentage points since ’15 and is currently the highest since ’02, though it is statistically unchanged since last year. Likewise, the 57% who now say their overall financial situation is getting better has risen 10 points since ’16 and is at its highest since ’02. (Gallup 4/30/19)


Church Fosters Relationships The 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment study from LifeWay Research found 78% of Protestant churchgoers say they have developed significant relationships with people at their church, including 43% who strongly agree. Just 8% disagree while 14% neither agree nor disagree. Although gender is not a factor, age does play a role in the likelihood someone has strong friendships at church. 46% of churchgoers, 65 and older, strongly agree they have significant relationships within the congregation compared to 38% of 18-34 year-olds. Those who attend worship services 4 times a month or more are more likely to confirm they have developed such relationships than those who attend less frequently (47% to 33%). (Baptist Press 5/8/19)


Blessed are the Peacemakers 49% of U.S. churchgoers say they intentionally try to make peace at church, including 24% who strongly agree. 38% are noncommittal, while 13% say they aren’t trying to be peacemakers. 28% of younger churchgoers strongly agree they intentionally try to be a peacemaker. Hispanic (34%) and African American churchgoers (32%) are more likely than white churchgoers (19%) to strongly agree they try to bring peace at church.

Black Protestants (32%) are most likely to strongly agree they try to be peacemakers followed by evangelicals (24%) and mainline Protestants (16%). (Baptist Press 5/8/19)


Motivations for Using the Bible When presented with 8 possible motivations for using the Bible, 47% of Bible users say they are motivated to read it because it brings them closer to God. Far fewer Bible readers are motivated to read it because it helps them discern God’s will for their life (12%), it reveals the nature of God (10%) or that they need comfort (10%). (State of the Bible 2019, American Bible Society)


Free Insights Send me a description of your business problem and I’ll send you a FREE response enumerating how we might address it for you. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or


U.S. Household Income is at or near the highest level it has been in the last 50 years. At the same time, income inequality continues to grow and the growth has been more pronounced among some racial and ethnic groups than among others. Asians have gone from being one of the groups with the lowest income inequality to the highest. The share of Americans who are in the middle class has fallen over the last several decades. 52% of adults were considered middle class in ’16, down from 61% in 1971. (Outreach 5/9/19)


Kids at Risk The CDC reports that 1 in every 5 children will experience sexual abuse. That’s 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys. An estimated 23% of reported cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by children. (Church Leaders 5/8/19)


Criminalizing Black Girls Black girls don’t misbehave more, but experts say they often receive more severe punishments for the same behavior as white peers. They are nearly 6 times more likely to get out-of-school suspension than white counterparts and more likely to be suspended multiple times than any other gender or race of students, finds a report from Columbia Law School. Black girls face both racial and gender bias that feeds the misconception that they are more insubordinate and aggressive and less in need of nurturing and protection. As a result, they are at greater risk of dropping out or being held back, which in turn leads to a 3-fold increase in the chances of becoming entangled in the juvenile justice system and later, in the adult system. They are often unfairly viewed as hypersexualized, more dangerous than their peers and in need of more control and are twice as likely as black boys to be disciplined for “disobedience.” Researchers found black girls were 15.6% of girls enrolled, but 36.6% of girls getting in-school suspensions and more than half of those who received multiple suspensions. Nationally, black girls make up 14% of the general population, but 33% of girls in juvenile detention facilities. They are especially vulnerable to sexual exploita-tion, with African-American youth making up about 57% of all juvenile prostitution arrests. (USA Today 5/13/19)


Markets Always Change in response to cultural, economic and political forces. A marketer’s dominance in one period is never assured in the next period, no matter how strong its brand; look at GM and Ford. Yet, it is the nature of dominant competitors to move cautiously to adapt to new market conditions. They do not easily relinquish “proven” formulas that produced so much success. Furthermore, the management, operations and marketing skills that are wed to those formulas run deep within a dominant competitor’s organization, reinforcing internal resistance to change. It’s human nature to become enamored with the trappings of dominance. This opens the door for smaller players who are more in-tune with the changing market and able to respond more nimbly. Often only an outsider can bring enough objectivity to see this subtle “killer arrogance.” I can bring you that objectivity. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or (Internet Retailer 3/07)


Only Half of Kids Raised Southern Baptist stay Southern Baptist according to new Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) research. The SBC went from baptizing 321,000 in ’07 to 246,000 last year. Plus, despite adding more than 10,000 more cooperating churches over the past couple of decades, church attendance across the denomination is also dropping. In ’06, it had 16.3 million members, now that’s down to less than 15 million. For much of the ’80s and ’90s, Southern Baptist kids were pretty likely to grow up to become Southern Baptist adults: 70% maintained their SBC identity into adulthood between 1984 and 1994. That has declined precipitously. In surveys conducted between ’15 and ’18, just over half of those raised Southern Baptist were still with the SBC. In other words, nearly half of Southern Baptists kids leave and never come back. The mean age for Southern Baptists in 1984 was 43.2; in ’16, it was 52.7. ( 5/24/19()


Where Churches Are Failing Kids Although there are numerous things that can and do contribute to the demise of a child’s faith, the church must accept part of the blame. 1. We’re teaching them to have good character traits, to be and do good, but failing to teach them doctrine. 2. The church is failing kids by not giving them opportunities to serve. 3. We’re not teaching them how to walk with God. 4. We’re failing to disciple kids through relationships. 5. The church is failing to help kids enter a relationship with Jesus. 6. We’re failing to help kids see that it’s not about them…it’s about bringing honor and glory to God. 7. We’re not equipping their parents to lead them spiritually. 8. We’re failing to help them develop a biblical worldview. 9. We’re failing to help parents see how important it is to have their children in church consistently.  ( 5/12/19)


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