Excerpts from the
May 10, 2018 edition of
The FOSTER Letter—Religious
Going to Church Matters for Your
Marriage Contrary to the
popular media myth,
Census Bureau data shows 72% of those who have ever been
married are still married to their 1st spouse!
And the 28% who aren’t includes everyone who was married for many
years until a spouse died. No one knows what the average 1st-marriage
divorce rate actually is, but based on the rate of widowhood and
other factors, we estimate it is closer to 20-25%. For all marriages
(including 2nd marriages, and so on), it is in the
31-35% range. Yet, expert demographers continue to project that
40-50% of couples divorce; but the actual numbers have never come
close, and divorce rates continue to drop, not rise! Even among baby
boomers, the highest-risk age group, 70% are still married to their
1st spouse. Also, according to Barna Research data,
regular church attendance lowers the divorce rate anywhere from 25-50%.
Shaunti Feldhahn 5/2/18)
Boomers Returning to Faith
Aging baby boomers
are increasingly turning to faith as they move from their 50s into
their 60s, finds a new Syracuse
Univ. study. 21% of boomers 60-70 say they became more religious over the past
decade. 56% boomers said their religiosity stayed the same and 11%
became less while 12% said they were never religious. Of those who
became more religious, 64% said their interest in worldly things had
changed. 53% said they were concerned about the religious
development of their children or grand-children and 46% said they
had experienced a loss. Religion provided perspective on end-of-life
concerns for several respondents, such as coming to ‘a
greater understanding of the fleeting nature of this life’ and the
desire to ‘meet my God on good terms.’
Population Aging 4/18)
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U.S. Christian Women More
Religious 72% of U.S.
Christian women say religion is “very important” in their lives vs.
62% of the country’s Christian men, according to Pew Research
Center’s ’14 U.S. Religious Landscape Study.
Roughly 8 in 10 Christian women also say they are absolutely certain
God exists and that the Bible is the Word of God vs. 7 in 10 men.
74% of Christian women say they pray at least daily, vs. 60% of men.
Among Catholics 67% of women vs. 49% of men say they pray every day.
Among mainline Protestants, 62% of women vs. 44% of men say they
pray daily. Among Mormons it’s nearly equal, 86% of women vs. 84% of
women pray daily.
There’s a gap between who
evangelicals say they are and what they believe. LifeWay Research
reports 45% of those who identify as evangelicals strongly agree
with core evangelical beliefs. Those 4 statements of belief are: •
The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe. • It is very
important for me to personally encourage non-Christians to trust
Jesus Christ as their Savior. • Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is
the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin. • Only
those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s
free gift of eternal salvation. Only 69% of evangelicals by belief
self-identify as evangelicals.
(Facts & Trends 18 Important Stats for Ministry in 2018)
Americans Believe its Young People are more likely to think
highly of themselves than their academic performance merits. A new
Rasmussen Reports national survey finds 31% of U.S. adults think
young people in America have higher self-esteem than young people in
most other countries. 24% say they have lower self-esteem, while 29%
feel their level of self-esteem is about the same as that of young
people elsewhere and 16% are undecided.
Contradictory Beliefs about the
Afterlife 60% of U.S.
adults say heaven is a place where all people will ultimately be
reunited with their loved ones, but 54% say only those who trust in
Jesus alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal
salvation. 52% also say they partly contribute to earning their
place in heaven with the good deeds they do.
(Facts & Trends
defined by Pew Research Center as anyone born from ’97 on, makes
them 11 to 22 years old now. Some call them Gen Z or iGens.
According to a recent USA Today and Ipsos poll, 50% of them
say their generation will be worse off than their parent’s
generation while 20% disagree. Among those 18 to 24, more than 3 to
1 say their generation will be worse off, and 31% “strongly agree”
that will be the case. 8 in 10 say higher education makes it easier
to have a career and the overwhelming majority of those now in
middle school or high school say they plan to go to college. But
more than 60% say they aren’t sure they’ll be able to afford it.
66% say the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and
powerful, 12% disagree. 40% predict they will experience sexual
harassment or gender-based discrimination. Nearly as many predict
they will experience racial-based discrimination, 30% predict they
will experience discrimination based on sexual orientation. By a 3-1
margin they agree with the statement that the American dream is
still obtainable for their generation but the older they are the
less certain they are.
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The Lack of a Parental Figure
is linked to other disadvantages in young adulthood, such as lower
levels of education, poorer health and more symptoms of depression.
Among young adults, 20% say
they have no father figure, while 6% say they have no mother figure.
Some have no relationship with either parent. The most common reason
young adults didn’t have a relationship with their father is either
his death (9%) or never having had a father figure (7%). For those
without a mother, it was mostly because she died (5%). Young adults
are 4 times as likely to be estranged from their father as their
mother. Recent research shows 24% of Americans, 25 to 32, (7.9
million young adults) lack an active relationship with one or both
(Facts & Trends 18 Important Stats for Ministry in
Almost a third of college
freshmen say they have no religious preference.
In the last 30 years, the
number of incoming freshmen who claim to be nonreligious has
tripled, according to data from the annual Cooperative
Institutional Research Program Freshmen Survey. 10% of college
freshmen said they had no religious preference in ’86 vs. 31% today.
That includes those who say they are agnostic (9%), atheist (6%), or
have no religious preference (16%). Since ’87 the percentage of
college freshmen who identify as part of a Christian denomination
fell from 81% to 60%.
(Important Stats for Ministry in 2018)
68% of U.S. churchgoers say it
takes them 15 minutes or less to get from their home to their place
of worship, according to Baylor Univ. research. 21% say their drive
is 5 minutes or less. 47% say it takes them 6 to 15 minutes. 23%
commute16 to 30 minutes and only 9% say it takes them longer than 30
minutes. Half of Americans who live within 15 minutes of their place
of worship report attending services weekly or more. 53% of those
who live within 5 minutes attend weekly while only 32% of those who
live more than 30 minutes away do the same.
Trends 18 Important Stats for Ministry in 2018)
Preach the Bible and They Will
Come Most church
attenders admit sermons focused on the Bible are the primary reason
they choose a congregation. 76% say sermons that teach more about
Scripture were a major factor. 83% of Protestant church attenders
say Scripture-focused sermons are a major factor in their church
decision. Sermons that help connect faith to life are a major reason
for 80%. Fewer Protestants credit programs for children and
teenagers (68%), community outreach and volunteer opportunities
(61%), or dynamic leaders (53%) as major factors for their church
(Facts & Trends 18 Important Stats for Ministry in 2018)
Matters of Death & Dying
A Kaiser Family Foundation
study found 71% of Americans prefer to die at home, if possible.
Only 41% believe that will happen while 24% expect to die in a
hospital, 6% in hospice, 4% in a nursing home and 17% don’t know
what to expect. 70% believe comfort at the end of life matters more
than avoiding death as long as possible. 87% say patients should
have more say than doctors in the matter. Also, if there’s little
chance for recovering, 88 % want their doctors to tell it to them
straight. 53% of Americans say they’d be open to talk about the end
of life with a minister or other religious leader. 50% also say
faith or spiritual beliefs play a major role in how they view the
end of life, 22% say faith plays a minor role while 25% say it plays
no role. 46% say that being at peace spiritually when they die is
very important. 77% of weekly churchgoers say their beliefs play a
major role in how they want to die vs. 15% for those who never go to
& Trends 4/18/18)
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Christian Book of the Year™
The Evangelical Christian Publishers Assoc. has named
by Sarah Young and published by Thomas Nelson, as the 2018 Christian
Book of the Year. (ECPA
Rush to Press 5/1/18)
Screen Time Increasing
26% of U.S. adults say
they’re online “almost constantly,” Pew Research
reports, up from 21% in ’15. And while young people are at the
forefront of the trend, the middle-aged aren’t far behind. 39% of
those 18 to 29 say they’re almost always online. For those 30 to 49,
the number is 36% and growing quickly, up 12 points since ’15. In a
recent LifeWay Research
survey, most Protestant senior pastors said their churches have a
website (84%) and a Facebook page (84%), and 68% provide Wi-Fi for
both guests and staff.
Facts & Trends 4/12/18)
the fastest-growing faith segment in America. While the growth of
that segment was initiated among Millennials (29% are currently
Skeptics) in recent years the expansion of the segment has largely
been among older adults. Even among adults 65 or older (historically
a staunchly Christian group) 14% are now in the Skeptic category.
Clearly, being a Skeptic is about more than just ditching church
services or religious labels. The moral perspectives of Skeptics are
far different from those of most Americans. (American Culture & Faith
Recent LifeWay Research data finds more than 80% of U.S. pastors say
their church has not disciplined a member in the past year. More
than half say they don’t know of a case when someone has been
disciplined and 55% say no member has been disciplined during their
time as pastor or before their tenure. Part of the reason for the
low percentage of reprimands could be because informal discipline is
taking place before the issue makes its way up to the pastor or
other church leaders. Only 8% of churches say “the responsibility
for discipline lies solely with the pastor.” The study did reveal
the following about discipline within various denominations:
Pentecostal (29%), Holiness (23%) and Baptist pastors (19%) are most
likely to say a church member was disciplined in the past year.
Methodist (4%) and Presbyterian/Reformed (9%) pastors are less
News Now 4/16/18)
Education = Less Belief in God Americans with a high school
education or less are more likely than college graduates to believe
in God or a higher power (94% vs. 84%).
They also are more likely than those who graduated
from college to believe in the God of the Bible (66% vs. 45%) and to
believe that a higher power determines what happens in their lives
most or all of the time (59% vs. 33%).
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