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

November 25, 2017 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update

 

 

Not All Nones Stay Nones 47% of Americans who were raised with no religion, known as nones, eventually find some kind of faith, reports Pew Research. 19% become evangelical Protestants, 17% join another Christian tradition and 10% become part of a non-Christian faith. However, among millennials, 67% of those raised as none, remain religiously unaffiliated as adults. (Facts & Trends, Fall 2017)

 

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Phone For all the benefits digital mediums have provided us, there has been a growing body of evidence over the past several years that the brain prefers analog mediums. Studies show reading material that is printed instead of on screens helps you better retain information. Studies also show taking notes by longhand will help you remember important meeting points better than tapping notes out on your laptop or smartphone. Absorbing information from analog mediums now appears to be better for memory retention, and thus, productivity. (Fast Company 10/11/17)

 

Chinese Government Co-Opting Christianity Thousands of Christian villagers in China have been told to take down displays of Jesus, crosses, and gospel passages from their homes and to replace them with posters of President Xi Jinping. Communist Party of China (CPC) officials claim, “Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses, but we tried to tell them that getting ill is a physical thing, and that the people who can really help them are the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi.” Though the party denies it, some Christians say they were told they would not be eligible for government assistance unless their posters were removed. (ChristianityToday.com 11/17/17)

 

Colleges Professors Aren’t to Blame Today Contrary to popular belief, most young people who wind up leaving their religious commitments do so before ever stepping foot on a college campus. A recent study found 24% of Americans are now religiously unaffiliated, including 38% of young adults. A recent UCLA’s Freshman Survey of first-time students at 184 U.S. colleges and universities, found 31% of incoming freshmen are religiously unaffiliated, a 300% increase since ’86. Because the UCLA survey is administered before students arrive on campus, the decline of religious identity cannot be attributed to college experience. Most Americans who have left their childhood religion did so before reaching adulthood. 79% of those 18 to 29 who have become religiously unaffiliated report having made this decision during their adolescent and teen years. But this has not always been the case. Of those 65 or older who left their childhood religion, just 38% did so in their childhood years. 63% left during their college and post-college years. A pair of Univ. of Texas sociologists argue “the religious belief systems of most students go largely untouched for the duration of their education.” They suggest that, instead, students’ religious lives lie dormant, “waiting to be awakened” upon graduation.  (FiveThirtyEight.com 10/10/17)

 

Improve Board Meeting Efficiency Board meetings are costly and should be highly productive. I can help your Board accomplish more and make better informed decisions without longer meetings. Contact me at 419-238-4082, Gary@garydfoster.com or www.garydfoster.com.

 

Where Are Tomorrow’s Readers? Common Sense Media reports that in ’99, children 2-7 were read to for an average of 45 minutes per day. In ’13, that number dropped to about 30 minutes. In ’14, the number of 13 year-olds who said they rarely or never read for pleasure was 22%, triple what it was 3 decades ago. (Facts & Trends, Fall 2017)

Not All Nones Stay Nones 47% of Americans who were raised with no religion, known as nones, eventually find some kind of faith, reports Pew Research. 19% become evangelical Protestants, 17% join another Christian tradition and 10% become part of a non-Christian faith. However, among millennials, 67% of those raised as none, remain religiously unaffiliated as adults. (Facts & Trends, Fall 2017)

 

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Phone For all the benefits digital mediums have provided us, there has been a growing body of evidence over the past several years that the brain prefers analog mediums. Studies show reading material that is printed instead of on screens helps you better retain information. Studies also show taking notes by longhand will help you remember important meeting points better than tapping notes out on your laptop or smartphone. Absorbing information from analog mediums now appears to be better for memory retention, and thus, productivity. (Fast Company 10/11/17)

 

Chinese Government Co-Opting Christianity Thousands of Christian villagers in China have been told to take down displays of Jesus, crosses, and gospel passages from their homes and to replace them with posters of President Xi Jinping. Communist Party of China (CPC) officials claim, “Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses, but we tried to tell them that getting ill is a physical thing, and that the people who can really help them are the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi.” Though the party denies it, some Christians say they were told they would not be eligible for government assistance unless their posters were removed. (ChristianityToday.com 11/17/17)

 

Colleges Professors Aren’t to Blame Today Contrary to popular belief, most young people who wind up leaving their religious commitments do so before ever stepping foot on a college campus. A recent study found 24% of Americans are now religiously unaffiliated, including 38% of young adults. A recent UCLA’s Freshman Survey of first-time students at 184 U.S. colleges and universities, found 31% of incoming freshmen are religiously unaffiliated, a 300% increase since ’86. Because the UCLA survey is administered before students arrive on campus, the decline of religious identity cannot be attributed to college experience. Most Americans who have left their childhood religion did so before reaching adulthood. 79% of those 18 to 29 who have become religiously unaffiliated report having made this decision during their adolescent and teen years. But this has not always been the case. Of those 65 or older who left their childhood religion, just 38% did so in their childhood years. 63% left during their college and post-college years. A pair of Univ. of Texas sociologists argue “the religious belief systems of most students go largely untouched for the duration of their education.” They suggest that, instead, students’ religious lives lie dormant, “waiting to be awakened” upon graduation.  (FiveThirtyEight.com 10/10/17)

 

Improve Board Meeting Efficiency Board meetings are costly and should be highly productive. I can help your Board accomplish more and make better informed decisions without longer meetings. Contact me at 419-238-4082, Gary@garydfoster.com or www.garydfoster.com.

 

Where Are Tomorrow’s Readers? Common Sense Media reports that in ’99, children 2-7 were read to for an average of 45 minutes per day. In ’13, that number dropped to about 30 minutes. In ’14, the number of 13 year-olds who said they rarely or never read for pleasure was 22%, triple what it was 3 decades ago. (Facts & Trends, Fall 2017)

 

Growing Churches If a church is growing numerically, it is highly likely to be growing faster than the community in which it is located. LifeWay Research found 91% of growing churches are outpacing the growth of their respective communities. (Facts & Trends, Fall ’17)

 

Self-Reported Donations When Barna asked American Christians to self-report their donations for the past year, 84% of Millennials reported donating less than $50 vs. 37% of Elders. (Barna.com 9/26/17)

 

Orthodox Christians have decreased as a share of the overall Christian population even as their numbers have more than doubled since 1910, when there were 125 million of them. This decrease in share is due to the fact that the worldwide populations of Catholics, Protestants and other Christians have collectively almost quadrupled over the last century (from 490 million in 1910 to 1.9 billion in 2010). Roughly 12% are now Orthodox, down from 20% in 1910. (Pew Fact Tank 11/8/17)

 

Out of the Ashes Rwanda may resonate in your memory because of the 1994 genocide that resulted in the deaths of nearly 1 million people. But today, out of the ashes, a renewed people have emerged. It is a country with as high a percentage of self-identifying Christians as you will find anywhere: 45% Roman Catholics, 10% Anglicans, and 30% Evangelicals. (CT The Exchange 11/4/17)

 

Religious Participation—Health & Well-Being Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health research links religious service attendance to a number of better health outcomes, including longer life, lower incidence of depression, and less suicide. Those who attended religious services were 47% less likely to subsequently divorce. Data indicates regular religious service attendance is associated with a lower risk of dying over a 16-year follow-up and also a lower incidence of depression. It is also associated with higher levels of meaning in life and greater levels of happiness. So, religious service attendance, by improving other aspects of life, may also indirectly support marriage. (Institute for Family Studies 11/29/16)

 

Advertising isn’t working as it did a few years ago. TV, radio and newspapers all bemoan the decline in ad results. “Wizard of Ads” Roy Williams claims he’s discovered and proved that (A) Internet surfing has trained us to disregard empty words and (B) Relevance has become more important than repetition. The audience is still there. What’s gone is their willingness to pay attention to drivel. He says, to make your advertising work like it should, you’re going to have to: (1) Talk about things your customer actually cares about. (2) Write your ads in a style that rings true. (3) Avoid heroic chest thumping. “We are the number one…” is now considered gauche and passé. (4) Close the loopholes in your ads. Offer evidence to support what you say. (5) Be specific. Details are more believable than generalities. (6) Deliver a real message. Substance is more important than style. Creativity and repetition can no longer cover up for an ad that actually says nothing. You’ve got to have a message that matters. For an analysis of your ads contact 419-238-4082, gary@garydfoster.com or www.garydfoster.com. (Monday Morning Memo, Wizard of Ads 3/5/07)

 

The U.S. Retirement Age Is Rising, as the government pushes it higher and workers stay in careers longer, but lifespans aren’t. Recently research data suggest Americans’ health is declining and millions of middle-age workers face the prospect of shorter, and less active, retirements than their parents. Here are the stats: The U.S. age-adjusted mortality rate rose 1.2% from ’14 to ’15, according to the Society of Actuaries. That’s the first year-over-year increase since ’05, and only the second rise greater than 1% since ’80. At the same time, the age at which people can claim their full Social Security benefits is gradually moving up, from 65 for those retiring in ’02 to 67 in ’27. Almost 1 in 3 Americans 65 to 69 is still working, along with almost 1 in 5 in their early 70s. But, Americans in their late 50s already have more serious health problems than people at the same ages did 10 to 15 years ago, claims the journal Health Affairs. A recent Univ. of Michigan study finds “activity of daily living,” or ADL limitations (walking across a room, dressing and bathing themselves, eating, or getting in or out of bed) among middle-age Americans has jumped 12.5%. (Bloomberg.com 10/23/17)

 

DaySpring Cards has started a new direct-sales business called Blessings Unlimited that offers gifts, home décor products, greeting cards, items for quiet times with the Lord and many other products for sale direct to consumers through independent consultants. This is a Christian product company willing to risk entering a new market channel. All new endeavors involve risk. Let me help you assess the risks in any new direction you will pursue. Contact me at 419-238-4082, gary@garydfoster.com or www.garydfoster.com. (Foster Network 3/28/07)

 

Generation Z, born between ’96 and ’14, make up 24.3% of the U.S. population according to the ’16 U.S. Census. The Washington Post says Z’s will have about $3 trillion in purchasing power by 2020. 92% go online daily, 73% have seen porn online before they turned 18. Although only 40% attend religious services weekly, 78% of older Generation Z’s say they believe in God. They view religious leaders as better role models than celebrities, professional athletes or political leaders. (Facts & Trends, Fall 2017)

 

Theological School Enrollments Decline The Assoc. of Theological Schools (ATS), which includes more than 270 institutions in the US and Canada, found that extension enrollment has dipped by about 26% over the past decade. (ChristianityToday.com 11/91/7)

 

Why Aren't Teens Working? For Baby Boomers and Generation X, the summer job was a rite of passage. Today’s teens have other priorities. In July of last year, 43% of 16-19s were either working or looking for a job, 10 points lower than in July ’06. In ’88 and ’89, the rate was nearly 70%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the teen labor force participation rate to drop below 27% in 2024, or 30% lower than the peak seasonally adjusted rate in ’89. A recent BLS analysis indicates millions of teens aren’t working because they’re studying instead. Over the last few decades, education has taken up more and more of teens’ time, as schools lengthen both the school day and the academic year. During the school year, academic loads have gotten heavier. Education is also eating up their summers. Teens aren’t going to summer school just because they failed a class and need to catch up. They’re also enrolling in enrichment courses and taking courses for college credit. In July of last year, more than 40% of 16-19s were enrolled in school, 4 times more than in ’85. Today students have more to learn in high school years. In ’82, fewer than 10% of high school grads had completed at least 4 years of English, 3 years of math, science, and social science, and 2 years of a foreign language. By ’09, the most recent data available, the share of grads taking those classes was 62%. High schoolers aren’t just taking more classes, they’re taking tougher ones. Almost a million students graduated in ’09 having taken an advanced placement class, up 39% in ’04. (Bloomberg.com 6/17/17)

 

Half of Americans Over 18 Were Married in ’14, down from 72% in ’60, according to the Pew Research Center. The shift is more pronounced for the less educated: As of ’14, almost 75% of women with bachelor’s degrees were married by their early 40s, vs. less than 60% with only a high-school diploma, according to the Brookings Institution. Likewise, childbearing outside marriage correlates with schooling. More than 70% of young mothers with only a high-school education had at least one child while single, vs. only 30% of college-educated women. Men who marry, drink less, work more and report greater happiness. Marriage allows couples to combine incomes, share costs and take advantage of tax breaks. Finally, children from stable, 2-parent families do better in school and the job market. (Bloomberg.com 7/11/17)

 

Social Media Can Increase Feelings Of Isolation A recent study found among social media users 19 to 32 who spend more than 2 hours a day on social media have twice the risk of feeling socially isolated vs. people who spend less than 30 minutes a day on the same platforms. (American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 7/17)

 

Suicide Way Too Common The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last year that suicide rates have increased by 24% over the last 15 years in almost every demographic category. Each suicide leaves behind, on average, 6 to 10 people—children, parents, spouses. That’s hundreds of thousands of people going through this loss every year. (Christianity Today 11/17

 

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