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, 2018 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update



Jesus Alone 88% of U.S. evangelicals, 88% of black Protestants, 65% of mainline Protestants and 58% of Catholics say only those who trust in Jesus alone as Savior receive God’s free gift of salvation. (Facts & Trends 10/17/18)


Faith Impacts Gen Z’s Moral Views Engaged Christian teens are a stark contrast to their peers on moral issues. For instance, 77% of engaged Christian Gen Zs say lying is wrong vs. 38% of their churched counterparts and 20% of those who claim no faith. Among engaged Christian Gen Zs, 76% believe sex before marriage and 77% that homosexual behavior are morally wrong vs. 5% and 4% respectively of no faith churched counterparts. (ECPA Rush to Press 10/15/18)


Emotional Brain vs. Executive Brain The brain’s emotional center, the limbic system, comes online early and with ferocity, during the adolescent years. A teen’s executive functioning, the ability to plan, make wise decisions, control impulses and anticipate consequences, doesn’t mature fully until he is 23 to 25. (Focus on the Family 10/26/18)


Licensing Opportunities Does this growing strategy hold increased revenue opportunities for you? Let me help you find out. If proven viable, I can help you strategically maximize it. Contact 419-238-4082, or


With the Divorce Rate at a 40-Year Low, researchers point to an unlikely source: young adults. Americans under 45 are choosier about their partners and marrying later in life. This is especially true of Millennials who tend to be cautious in general. ( 9/26/18)


Economic Freedom Reduces Poverty The World Bank reports the number of people in extreme poverty around the world dropped to under 750 million for the first time since 1990 when they began collecting global statistics. Over the last 25 years, more than one billion people have been raised out of abject poverty, defined by the UN as living on less than $1.90 a day. This is the most significant movement out of poverty in human history and if this trend continues, we could see extreme poverty almost completely eradicated in the 21st century. Yet, this historic movement was not the result of government redistribution of wealth, national debt forgiveness or even Christian charity. It was brought about by the spread of economic freedom. (Institute for Faith, Work & Economics 10/3/18)


The Total Debt Shouldered by Americans has hit another record high, rising to $13.5 trillion in the last quarter, including a jump in student-loan delinquencies. Student debt delinquency of 90 or more days rose to 9.1% in Q3 from 8.6% in Q2, claims Federal Reserve Bank data. Such delinquency flows have been rising on auto debt since ’12 and on credit card debt since last year. Total household debt, driven by a $9.1 trillion in mortgages, is now $837 billion higher than its previous peak in ’08, just as the last recession took hold. Such debt has risen steadily for more than 4 years and sits more than 21% above a trough in ’13. The $219 billion rise in total debt in the quarter ended September 30 was the biggest jump since ’16. (Reuters 11/16/18)


Why Pastors Get Fired When Their Church is Growing Thom Rainer shares these insights: 1. Members who can’t deal with significant change. 2. Threats to power brokers and power groups. 3. Relational disruption. 4. Idolatry of the past. 5. Empowered bullies. 6. Staff who feel threatened. 7. Innuendo, gossip and lies. The first 6 scenarios are often exacerbated by innuendo, gossip and lies. (Thom Rainer, Growing Healthy Churches Together 10/24/18)


Generational Marriage Commitment Decline 38% of Gen Z, 37% of Millennials, 47% of Boomers and 66% of Elders feel a strong conviction that marriage ought to be a lifelong commitment between a man and woman. ( 10/9/18)


Opposites Don’t Attract No matter where friends meet, people tend to be drawn to those who are more like them. According to Barna this is true for religious beliefs (62% similar, 38% different), race or ethnicity (74% vs. 26%), income (56% vs. 44%), education level (63% vs. 37%), social status (70% vs. 30%), political views (62% vs. 38%) and life stage (69% vs. 31%). Evangelicals are less likely than most to have friends different than themselves, especially when it comes to religious beliefs (91% mostly similar), ethnicity (88%) and political views (86%). (Barna 10/23/18)


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)


Teens Friendships More Diverse 81% of U.S. teens say they often or occasionally interact with people who do not share or do not understand important parts of their identity. According to Barna, 63% enjoy spending time with people who are different from them. Only 12% indicate they do not. 56% are comfortable in this situation and 31% say they don’t share the same belief system as most of their friends. 76% of teens agree with the statement “My group of friends is very important to my sense of self,” more than their family. Teens 13–19 are most likely to form friendships at school and 86% have found friends in their classes. Engaged Christian teens (76%) are less likely to find their friends in class (compared with 88% from other faiths, 86% of those with no faith). They are more likely to form friendships where they worship (66%), compared to teens of other faiths (19%) or no faith (5%). (Barna 10/23/18)


Can Men and Women Be Friends? Barna research finds Americans think friendships between men and women are possible and actually have at least one friend of the opposite sex. 25% however indicate they have just one close friend of the opposite sex and the average among all adults is 1.4. In general, the number of friends of the opposite sex appears to rise gradually with age, likely a result of bonds that grow over time. (Barna 10/23/18)


Pastors Struggle with Loneliness Barna Research has found that although pastors can often experience difficulty when making friends, 67% say they are happy with their friendships, rating their satisfaction as either excellent (34%) or good (33%), on par with or only slightly better than U.S. adults overall (28% excellent, 33% good). However, pastors are more likely than the general population to feel lonely and to isolate themselves from others. Overall, intimacy with friends appears to be a challenge not only for the average U.S. adult but for spiritual leaders, despite their relationally driven vocation. (Barna 10/23/18)


Religious Belief a Matter of Personal Opinion 60% of Americans say religious belief is a matter of personal opinion. For 70%, such religious beliefs include one true God existing in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). But an increasing majority denies Jesus has always existed and many say the Holy Spirit is a force rather than a personal being. (Facts & Trends 10/23/18)


An Always Wired Generation Gen Z has never known a world without the internet or cell phones; younger Z’s have never known a world without smartphones. Google has always existed. They take Wi-Fi for granted. They spend 6 to 9 hours a day absorbing media and 92% go online daily.

(Facts & Trends 9/29/17)


IRS Can Tax Gifts Made Directly to Pastors While church members may want to give their pastor a financial gift to show appreciation, a recent court ruling says the IRS can still get their cut. A Minnesota tax court ruled that contributions made by congregants as “gifts” to their pastor are still taxable income, according to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. The judge concluded, “When comparatively so much money flows to a person from people from whom he provides services (even intangible ones) and to whom he expects to provide services in the future, we find it to be income and not gifts.” (ECFA 11/16/18)


Character of God 70% of Americans believe there is one true God in 3 persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 18% disagree while 12% aren’t sure. This has remained consistent since researchers began asking the question in ’14. 69% of Americans say God is perfect and cannot make a mistake, which is higher than both the ’16 (65%) and ’14 (63%), finds LifeWay Research surveys. 66% believe the biblical accounts of the bodily resurrection of Jesus are completely accurate while 20% disagree and 14% aren’t sure. 57% say Jesus Christ is the only person who never sinned, 29% disagree and 15% aren’t sure. 57% also say Jesus is a created being, 28% disagree and 15% aren’t sure. 59% say the Holy Spirit is a force rather than a personal being, 25% disagree and 16% aren’t sure. 26% of Americans say God is unconcerned with their day-to-day decisions, 61% disagree and 13% aren’t sure.

(2018 State of Theology Study)


The Bible In ’18 LifeWay Research found 50% of Americans say the Bible is 100% accurate in all that it teaches vs. 47% in ’16 and 43% in ’14. Meanwhile, 47% agree the Bible contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but isn’t literally true; 43% disagree. In ’14 and ’16, 41% and 44% respectively said the Bible isn’t literally true. 36% of Americans say modern science disproves the Bible while 48% disagree. (2018 State of Theology Study)


Sam-Sex Marriage Divide Majorities in all of the surveyed Western European countries favor same-sex marriage, while majorities in almost all of the Central and Eastern European countries oppose it. For example, 88% of adults in Sweden and 75% in Germany favor or strongly favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. By contrast, 74% of Romanians and 79% of Bulgarians oppose or strongly oppose it. (Pew Research Center 10/29/18)


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


Alcohol Kills More People each year opioid overdoses through cancer, liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis and suicide, among other ways. From ’07 to ’17, the number of deaths attributable to alcohol increased 35%, according to a new Univ. of Washington analysis. The death rate rose an alarming 67% among women and 29% among men. While teen deaths from drinking were down about 16% during the same period, deaths among people 45 to 64 rose by 25%. (USA Today 11/16/18)


A Large American Cancer Society Study links social isolation with a higher risk of death from all causes combined and heart disease for all races studied and with increased cancer mortality in white men and women. Overall, race seemed to be a stronger predictor of social isolation than sex; white men and white women were more likely to be in the least isolated category than black men and women. Current findings indicate a composite measure of social isolation is a robust predictor of mortality risk among men, women, blacks and whites. Compared with the least isolated, the most socially isolated black men and women had a more than 2-fold higher risk of death from any cause and white men and women had 60% and 84% greater risks of death, respectfully. (American Cancer Society 11/16/18)


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