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

May 25, 2018 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


Why Nests Aren’t Emptying More young adults are living with their parents than at any time in the last 75 years and the reason isn’t just laziness or job opportunities. The pop culture image of a 30-year-old man-boy hacking away on a laptop in his mother’s basement isn’t that far off according to Pew Research data. In ’16, 33% of 25-29 year-olds still lived with their parents or grandparents. That same year, for the first time in well over a century, living with parents was the number one most common living arrangement for 19-34s. Christian apologist, Alex McFarland, notes, “Part of this pervasive, culture-wide ‘failure to launch’ is all tied to the breakdown of the family and really the diminished value our culture has placed on marriage and family.” (One News Now 4/13/18)


Religion is Seen as Old Fashioned according to Gallup research. Today 34% of Americans say religion is “largely old-fashioned and out of date” vs. 7% in ’57. Meanwhile, 55% of Americans believe religion can answer all or most of today’s problems. That number is down from 82% in 1957.

The remaining 10% say they have no opinion on whether religion can solve problems today. (Facts & Trends 18 Important Stats for Ministry in 2018)


U.S. Christians Believe in a Biblical God In the U.S., Christians are 99% likely to believe in God or a higher power, with 80% claiming faith in a biblical God. 75% describe God as all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful. Like Christians, most Jews (89%) have faith in a deity. But just 33% of Jews say they believe in God as described in the Bible, while 56% say they believe in some other higher power. Jews are also more likely than Christians to say they don’t believe in a spiritual force of any kind (10% vs. 1%). Finally, among those who describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, 72% say they believe in a higher power of some kind. (Pew Fact Tank 4/25/18)


Culturally: Patience Is Shorter According to Microsoft research, people now, on average, lose focus after only 8 seconds. This means people now have shorter attention spans than goldfish. Our shrinking attention spans mirror our desire for instant everything. Just as attention spans are shorter, so is patience. When people are used to getting whatever they want when they want it, they can sadly expect church to be the same way. People want their pastor to be who they want him to be and to do it now. And if not, they can launch into a tirade on Facebook because that is what people do about almost anything today. This is so different from how we grow as Christians, slowly and painfully. And oh how different church should be; not a place I evaluate but a community that I contribute to, a people I am committed to love and be loved by. (Church 4/23/18)

What Do Those Numbers Really Mean? Marketing numbers can be looked at two ways: quantitatively and qualitatively. Quantitative numbers tell a story based on volume, while qualitative numbers tell one based on impact and effect (beyond sheer volume). These two vantage points together tell the whole story and can influence what steps you take in marketing. I can help you objectively understand and evaluate your numbers. Contact, or 419-238-4082. (Online Spin 2/10/10)


Parents Supporting Adult Children A ’17 TD Ameritrade survey found millennial parents 19 to 37 said they received $11,011 in financial support and unpaid labor from their boomer parents aged 50 to 70. Without that help, many millennials couldn’t support their current lifestyles, found the survey. Grandparents are often making sacrifices to aid their children and grandchildren. ( 3/21/18)


According to MOVIEGUIDE® Founder and Publisher, Dr. Ted Baehr, TV viewers and moviegoers prefer movies and TV programs with biblical, morally uplifting, faith-based, patriotic, and conservative principles and values. In fact, 90% of the Top 10 Movies in the U.S. and overseas in ’17 contained strong or very strong Christian, redemptive, biblical, moral content. In 17, such movies averaged $57.84 million at the domestic box office vs. only $10.49 million for movies with very strong Non-Christian, false or immoral worldviews. Movies with very strong secular humanist or atheist content or worldviews did even worse, averaging only $1.16 million per movie! (Movieguide® 4/22/18)


A New Report from LifeWay Research found more than half of Protestant churchgoers say a personal connection inspired them to give money to a charity for the first time. Social media such as Facebook inspired only 4% of similar donations. 75% of churchgoers support at least one charity besides their church. When asked what factor prompted them most to give, 21% say they knew someone who worked there. 19% had met someone from the charity, while 18% say friends of theirs supported the charity. 15% had been to a fundraiser, while 15% had received a letter from the charity and 11% had volunteered for the charity. (Facts & Trends 4/17/18)


More Blacks than Whites are Christian Unlike Americans of European descent, most black Americans trace their ancestry to areas of Africa that, centuries ago, were not primarily part of the Christian world. Yet, today, larger shares of African Americans than whites say they are Christian. And, of all major U.S. racial and ethnic groups, blacks are the most likely to identify as Protestant. 79% of black Americans identify as Christian, according to Pew Research Center’s ’14 Religious Landscape Study. By comparison, 71% of Americans overall say they are Christian, including 70% of whites, 77% of Latinos and just 34% of Asian Americans. Meanwhile, about 70% of blacks are Protestant vs. 47% of the public overall, including 48% of whites, 24% of Latinos and 17% of Asian Americans. 53% of all black adults in the U. S. are classified as members of the historically black Protestant tradition such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church or the Church of God in Christ. (Pew Research Center 4/28/18)


Leverage Your Current Assets Transformation is different than starting anew, so use your assets such as current products, services, customer relationships, a terrific team. You can start ahead of the competition. I’m here to help. Contact 419-238-4082, or (USA Today 2/26/10)


Instead Of Christians Evangelizing The World, it appears that over the past 15 years, the world has been more successful at evangelizing born-again Christians to abandon their faith in favor of a secular worldview. The share of U.S. Christians overall has declined from 83% of the adult population in ’03 to 72% last year. During the same time, the number of Americans who say they have no religion has nearly doubled to 21%, claims ABC News/Washington Post poll data. However, among all Protestants, 56% currently say they’re evangelical or born-again; essentially the same as in ’03. Americans who proclaim no adherence to any religion has nearly doubled since ’03. (One News Now 5/13/18)


Younger Adults (those under 50) are less inclined than older Americans to believe in a biblical God and more likely to say they don’t believe in any higher power or spiritual force. While roughly two-thirds of older adults say they believe in the biblical God, just 49% of those in their 30s and 40s and just 43% of adults under 30, say the same. Even with this age gap, an overwhelming majority of the youngest adults continue to believe in God or a higher power; 80% of those ages 18 to 29 say they believe in at least some kind of spiritual force. (Pew Fact Tank 4/25/18)

Say It Straight In ‘04 the Grammy’s scored a respectable 26.3 million viewers. In ‘05 they fell to just 18.8 million, so ’06’s 17 million should have come as no surprise. If you need advice about marketing in the new millennium, here’s all you really need to know: Say it straight…say it real! I can help you decide how to do this best. Contact 419-238-4082, or (Monday Morning Memo 2/20/06)


Teen Employment Has Plummeted According to report Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, in July ’17, the teen labor force (16 to 19 year olds) participation rate was 42.5%, down 30 percentage points from its high of 71.8% in 1978. Fewer than 6.2 million teens were employed that month, which actually represents the largest total since ’07 but is still well shy of the more than 10 million teens employed in1978. Extensive research tends to agree, teens focus on education is driving this decline. Teen enrollment in high schools, colleges and universities is significantly higher than it was in decades past. Per the BLS, 75% of teens were enrolled in school in ’15, up from just 58.7% in ’85, when the bureau’s Current Population Survey began tracking the data. Also, it is plausible that teens in some instances are losing out on part-time jobs and restaurant gigs to older workers with more experience and who may be more used to workplace norms. (U.S. News & World Report 5/19/18))


Americans Are Believers The vast majority of Americans (90%) believe in some kind of higher power, with 56% professing faith in God as described in the Bible and another 33% saying they believe in another type of higher power or spiritual force. Only 1 in 10 say they don’t believe in God or a higher power of any kind. (Pew Fact Tank 4/25/18)


Regular Church Attenders are Regular Tithers 57% of those who attend church services at least once a week give at least a tithe compared with 28% for those who go once or twice a month. 35% of those who attend once or twice a month are not consistent in giving vs. 14% of those who attend at least once a week. Those who go one or two times a month are twice as likely to say finances make it hard to give (13%) than those who attend at least once a week (7%).

64% of evangelicals give at least 10% vs. 41% of other churchgoers. (Baptist Press 5/10/18)


Not Just for Kids Video Games have grown from a niche industry to one that generated more than $108 billion in revenues in ’17. According to the Entertainment Software Assoc., 65% of U.S. households have at least one frequent gamer. The average age of a video game player is 35, with gamers 18 and older representing 72% of the gamer population. A player is almost twice as likely to be an adult woman (31% of gamers) than a boy younger than 18 (18% of gamers). The average male who plays video games is 33 while the average female is 37. (Facts & Trends 5/2/18)


Americans Redefine Family Morality A new survey by the American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI) shows a large majority of the nation’s adults have radically redefined moral behavior related to family matters. Of the 8 family-related behaviors studied, 5 are acceptable. They are: using pills or medical devices for birth control–acceptable to 86%, getting a divorce–acceptable to 77%, sexual intercourse between unmarried male and female adults –acceptable to 71%, having a baby without being married– acceptable to 69%. Intentionally looking at pictures or videos that display nudity or explicit sexual behavior–acceptable to 58%. Also, 48% said having an abortion is acceptable. The only family-related behaviors studied that smaller proportions of the public approved of were being married to more than one person at the same time (i.e., polygamy), endorsed by 28% and physically or emotionally intimidating or aggressively dominating someone, acceptable by 23%. For the 8 measures examined in the study, an average 25% of all adults said those behaviors are not moral issues. One-third or more of the public considers divorce, birth control, and having a baby outside of marriage to be amoral decisions. For 7 of the 8 behaviors explored, born again Christians were much more likely to embrace a more traditional, biblical moral perspective. 70% of both groups agreed the use of pills or devices to facilitate birth control are acceptable. (American Culture & Faith Institute 4/24/180


Most American Churches have 80 or fewer worshipers each week and fewer than 45% of churches have grown more than 2% in the last 5 years, according to a Hartford Institute for Religion Research study. 59% of churches in a new suburb grew at least 2% over the same time span vs. only 44% for those in other locations. Only 36% of churches heavily attended by senior citizens grew 2% or more. Only 48% of churches where seniors were less than one-third grew at all. 44% of churches that say they have little to some innovation in worship grew vs. 53% of those with very innovative worship. For churches that maintained relative calm (no serious conflict in the past 5 years) more than half grew vs. just 29% for those with serious conflict. (Facts & Trends 3/17/16)



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