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, 2017 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update



Why Missionaries Go Home The most common reason missionaries go home is not due to lack of money, illness, terrorism, homesickness, or even a lack of fruit or response to the Gospel. According to a World Evangelical Alliance released study, “conflict with peers” (other missionaries) is the top reason North American missionaries leave the mission field. (Baptist Press 6/6/17)


Religious Hostility Rising According to Pew Research, the level of restrictions around the world on religion is surprisingly elevated. The study finds it “high” or “very high” in fully one-quarter of the 198 nations assessed. Moreover, the situation appears to be getting worse: both the government and social indicators show religious freedom deteriorated in ‛15 (the latest year for which data are available) for the first time in 3 years. State restrictions on freedom of worship are concentrated in the Middle East and North Africa, the origin of the Abrahamic faiths. In that region, 95% of governments engage in harassment and the use of force against religious groups, with Egypt’s policies the sternest of all. (The Economist 4/14/17)


Millennials Self-Motivated 52% of millennials reported giving because of who they are; a percentage significantly higher than for previous generations. In contrast, only 21% reported giving because of the ministry asking them. (ECFA The Generosity Project 4/13/17)


Connected Kids Children are spending an average of 5 hours on an electronic device (tablet, phone, computer, etc.) every day. Even at this amount, 60% of parents say they are limiting the amount of time their kids spend on electronic devices. Millennial parents (perhaps because they have younger children or perhaps because they are more likely to be immersed in and therefore experiencing their own angst around electronic usage) are more likely (73%) than Gen-Xer (57%) or Boomer parents (57%) to limit their children’s time on electronic devices. 88% of parents with teens say their teen has a phone and 48% of parents with preteens say their child does. (The Tech-Wise Family, Andy Crouch, Baker Books, 2017)


America’s Decline in Moral Laws 7 in 10 Americans with evangelical beliefs believe too many laws regulating moral behavior have been removed, yet 6 in 10 believe such laws are not effective at encouraging people to act morally, finds a new LifeWay Research study. Researchers found 81% of Americans agree with the statement, “I am concerned about declining moral behavior in our nation,” while 19% disagree. Most Americans older than 65 (85%) are concerned about declining moral behavior, as are those 18 to 24 (71%.) Those with graduate degrees (72%) agree, as do those with a high school degree or less (85%). So do Christians (85%), those of non-Christian faiths (70%) and “nones,” those with no religious affiliation, (72%). White Americans (82%), African-Americans (86%), Hispanic Americans (73%) and Americans of other ethnicities (75%) agree as well. (CT Gleanings 5/9/17)


Performance in the business environment can be traced to 3 employee qualities: mission ownership, a sense of urgency and personal commitment. I can help you assess employee performance in these areas and point your company to higher productivity and profits by maximizing existing staff talent. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or


How Many Muslims Are There? There were 1.8 billion Muslims in the world as of  ’15– roughly 24% of the global population – according to a Pew Research Center estimate. But while Islam is currently the world’s 2nd-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion. If current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century. (Pew Research 5/26/17)


Tech Disrupts the Dinner Table 24% of U.S. parents say they strongly agree that electronic devices are a significant disruption to their family meals, with an additional 18% saying they somewhat agree. However, 32% say devices are not allowed at the table, and another 22% say family members rarely bring their devices to the table. Only 19% say their family members always bring their devices to the table. (The Tech-Wise Family, Andy Crouch, Baker Books, 2017)


Annoying RoboCalls According to the FCC, there are nearly 2.4 billion robocalls made every month. That’s more than 7 calls per person, according to new research from the YouMail Robocall Index. (USA Today 4/16/17)


Hidden Cost of Poor Service Each person who is considered highly likely to recommend a company/ministry and its products (a.k.a., a Promoter) is worth about half a new customer in terms of word of mouth marketing value. A Detractor (i.e., someone unlikely to recommend the company) accounts for a loss of about 1.5 customers in terms of new-customer acquisition (including their presumed loss of business). Detractors’ negative word-of-mouth behavior represents a significant hidden cost and net drain on the bottom line. Ask me to help you insure your organization has more Promoters and fewer Detractors.  Contact 419-238-4082, or (Study by Satmetrix Inc 3/09)


Not Sharing Less than 1% of adults who shared a message about their faith with other people at least once a month during the previous year communicated a biblically-accurate version of the gospel. (Americana Culture & Faith Institute [ACFI] 3/22/17)


Materialism is the view that the material world is all there is. “Meaning and purpose comes from working hard to earn as much as possible so you can make the most of life,” is a view held by 20% of practicing Christians. Black (24%) and Hispanic (27%) practicing Christians, as well as Catholics (31%). Millennials and Gen-Xers (34% and 32%, respectively) are 3 times as likely to strongly agree with this premise than Boomers and Elders (10% and 11%, respectively), and those who live in cities (31%) are twice as likely as their suburban or rural counterparts (14%).(Barna Update 5/9/17)


Competing Worldviews Christians are more aware of (and influenced by) disparate worldviews than ever. Barna’s research shows only 17% of Christians who consider their faith important and attend church regularly actually have a biblical worldview. So, what do they believe? In partnership with Summit Ministries, Barna studied American practicing Christians to gauge how much the tenets of other key worldviews have influenced their beliefs about the way the world is and how it ought to be. They found 38% of practicing Christians are sympathetic to some Muslim teachings. Also, 61% agree with ideas rooted in New Spirituality. 54% resonate with postmodernist views. 36% accept ideas associated with Marxism. 29% believe ideas based on secularism. Millennials and Gen-Xers, who came of age in a less Christianized context, are, in some cases, up to 8 times more likely to accept these views than Boomers and Elders. Males are generally more open to these worldviews than women, often at a 2:1 ratio. Also, city dwellers are more accepting of these views than those in either suburban or rural areas. And, Americans of color are, in about half of the cases, more likely than white Americans to embrace these worldviews. (Barna Update 5/9/17)


More People Live In New York City (an estimated 8.5 million people in 2016) than in the entire states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, Vermont, and the District of Columbia combined. ( 4/27/17)


Why We Stopped Attending When adults who attended church growing up were asked by Gallup pollsters why they stopped, the top 3 answers were because they “prefer to worship on their own,” “don’t like organized religion” and “aren’t very religious.” ( 4/27/17)


Why We Keep Attending Gallup asked regular church attenders what the most important aspect of a church is. It found while many leave the church seeking spiritual relevance, it’s also the primary reason why people are staying, and they’re looking for it in the sermons. Respondents said their biggest felt need is to hear sermons that teach them about Scripture (83%) and help them connect religion to their own life (80%). If people left the church because they stopped sensing its relevance to their daily life, those who are attending are desperately in search of it. ( 4/27/17)


A Good Source for Morals 52% of U.S. adults call the Bible a good source of morals. 37% say it’s helpful, 36% true and 35% life-changing, according to a new LifeWay Research survey. (CT Gleanings 4/26/17)


America’s Religious Decline In the U.S., just 5% of the population in ‛72 reported no religious affiliation. By ‛16, 1 out of 4 said they were unaffiliated. Although less than 50 years ago, more than 70% still identified generally as Christian. (NPR 4/28/17)


Enduring Christianity A recent Pew Research Center study on the relation in the U.S. between religiosity and educational attainment at first glance appears to support the thesis: The more education people have, the less religious they are. A closer look at the data, however, offers a more nuanced picture. While highly educated Jews tend to be less observant than less educated Jews, the relation between education and religiosity is weaker among those Americans with a strong Christian identity. Highly educated Christian adherents are just as religious, in some cases more religious, than their fellow members who might have less education. For example, among mainline Protestants, college grads were actually found to be more likely than non-college grads to report weekly church attendance. Regardless of their educational attainment, these Christians find meaning in their church experience. (NPR 4/28/17)


Unmet Expectations 55% of global and 43% of U.S. customers say businesses never, rarely or only sometimes meet their expectations. Poor service accounts for 67% of customer churn. In an economic downturn, relationships are even more important. A business or ministry must instill a service philosophy that differentiates it from the others, enticing constituents while also encouraging repeat sales/donations. Do not let customer churn erode your business or ministry. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or


Systematic Approach 49% of evangelicals say they take a systematic approach to Bible reading by reading a little each day. (CT Gleanings 4/26/17)


Deciding Between Right & Wrong LifeWay Research asked Americans how they decide between right and wrong on a personal level. 52% say right and wrong never change. 32% say whether or not someone gets hurt plays a role in determining if something is right or wrong. Americans also consider whether something is legal (24%) or whether the benefits outweigh the costs (20%) when thinking about morality. Just 8% worry about what the majority of people think or whether an institution gets hurt (10%).  A mere 4% worries about getting caught when deciding between right and wrong. Women (36%) are more likely than men (28%) to consider whether someone gets hurt when thinking about right and wrong. Midwesterners (37%) worry more about hurting others than Southerners (27%). So do those with a bachelor’s degree (44%) or a graduate degree (38%), nones (44%) and those without evangelical beliefs (35%). Those with a high school degree or less (26%), Christians (26%) and those with evangelical beliefs (16%) are less likely to consider whether someone gets hurt when looking at right and wrong. (CT Gleanings 5/9/17)


The Secular Worldview prioritizes the scientific method as an explanatory framework for life and advances a rational and materialistic view of the world. Practicing Christians generally resist scientism and a Darwinian belief: Only 10% strongly agree “a belief must be proven by science to know it is true.” Believing that human beings are made in the image of God, and not just highly evolved matter, Christians see value as inherent; only 13% of practicing Christians strongly agree “a person’s life is valuable only if society sees it as valuable.” (Barna Update 5/9/17)


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