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

October 10, 2018 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


Most Pastors Are Happy in Their Ministry, despite the many reports to the contrary in recent years. According to LifeWay Research, they’re engaging and ministering to their congregations with great success and fruitfulness. This is good news for churches and pastors. October is Pastor Appreciation Month, so it’s a good time to let your pastor know you appreciate that they’re on call 24 hours a day, routinely encounter tense situations and difficult conversations but are making an eternal difference in your life and your community. (The Foster Network 10/2/18)


Pregnancy Life Centers Help Millions New research reveals America’s pro-life pregnancy centers helped 2 million people, mostly women and youth and saved communities $161 million in costs last year alone. The report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute provides a thorough analysis of the impact of 2,600 of the estimated 2,750 centers in the U.S. last year. 70% of locations offer free ultrasounds, up 24% since ’10. Credentialed nurse sonographers and registered diagnostic medical sonographers contributed 400,100 hours of free services, along with 100 mobile ultrasound units to bringing services to women. 67,000 volunteers serve pregnancy centers, including an estimated 7,500 medical professionals who offer their time and skills gratis. Such centers administered 679,600 free pregnancy tests and nearly 300,000 mothers and fathers attended parenting courses. The centers saw more than 24,000 after-abortion support clients were counseled and referred for professional help when appropriate. More than one million students attended community-based sexual risk avoidance education presentations. (Christian Post 9/6/18)


TV Rating Systems Failing Over 80% of prime-time network family comedy TV shows have scenes in which adult characters use sexually explicit dialogue in front of children, says the Parents Television Council. All of the ‘family comedies’ aired on CBS, NBC and Fox contained such instances, with ABC airing the most. Top of Form

PTC is calling for a regulatory review of the 22-year-old ratings system to see how it can best be reformed to be more helpful to parents. (Christian Post 9/11/18)


Religious Involvement appears to be a “protective factor” for teens, finds a recent Harvard Univ. study. Possible reasons include religion’s emphasis on personal virtue and self-control, practices that encourage respect for the body and “active coping” and the social support and adult role models typically found within a congregation. Estimates show almost 60% of parents who attended worship, at least once per week, had children who reported frequent church attendance. ( 9/21/18)


The Last 10% of achieving quality or excellence is always the most demanding. If all you’re doing is the standard amount, all you’re going to get is the standard result. The hard part is the last 10% because everyone is busy doing the easy part already. The secret is to invest the extra that other’s believe isn’t worth the effort. I can help. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or (Seth Godin’s Blog 5/19/10)


Prayer Does Change Things According to a Harvard Univ. study of children and teens recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, daily prayer or meditation was linked to characteristics such as better emotional processing and expression, more volunteering, a “greater sense of mission,” higher levels of forgiveness, decreased likelihood of early sexual activity and fewer sexual partners in one’s lifetime. There were also possible associations between regular prayer and higher life satisfaction, higher self-esteem, the likelihood of registering to vote, fewer symptoms of depression and a lower risk of smoking. ( 9/21/18)


More Parents Moving in with Adult Kids The percentage of parents who have moved in with their kids has doubled over the last 20 years, according to Pew Research. In 1995, 7% of adults who lived in someone else’s home were parents of the head of the household. Today, that figure is 14%. Overall, about 1 in 3 Americans (31.9%) live in someone else’s home. That’s up from 28.8% in 1995. (Facts & Trends 9/5/18)


Parents Failures Behind Religious Nones A new study lends supporting evidence to the theory that a failure of parents to transmit their faith to their children is a factor in the rise of the number of Americans who have no particular religious affiliation and identify instead as religious “nones.” The study, published in the 8/18 issue of the journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, studied students and their parents/caretakers at a high school near New York City. Students were found to be significantly more secular than their parents and were less likely to agree with survey statements such as “I'm guided by religion when making important decisions in my life” and “I have a spirit/essence beyond my physical body.” Researchers concluded, “Child-ren, at least children in the U.S, do tend to be less religious than their parents. That finding helps to explain the growing rates of nonreligious people in the U.S., as much of the rise of non-religion, is the failure of parents to transmit their religion to their children.” Another recent study showing a connection between parenting and faith found those raised by religious hypocrites, parents who don’t model their faith to their kids, are more likely to become atheists at a younger age. The book Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home, co-authored by Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez and published by Focus on the Family, argues that the abandonment of Christianity by many millennials is often fueled by family breakdown. (Christian Post 9/20/18)


Fewer Reading for Pleasure A new National Endowment for the Arts report found reading for pleasure fell slightly between ’12 and ’17. The percentage of adults 18 and older who read any book that wasn’t for work or school in ’17 was 52.7%, compared to 54.6% in ’12, 54.3% in ’08 and 56.6% in ’02. 41.8% of adults read a novel or short story in the year prior to July ’17, down from 45.2% in ’12 and from 47% in ’08. The declines were mainly among women, African-Americans and adults ages 18–24.  (Publisher’s Weekly 9/13/18)


Are You Listening to every level of your organization? It’s easy to fall into the habit of listening to only those on your level in the organization. We may be headed for trouble when we think we know what “they” want or what “they” think. D.J. Kaufman said, “Wisdom is the reward for a lifetime of listening … when you’d have preferred to talk.”  An operations audit by me can help insure you are listening to all levels in your organization. or or call 419-238-4082. (Mac Lake blog 5/3/10)


U.S. Adults More Religious Both Christian and religiously unaffiliated U.S. adults are much more religiously observant than their counterparts in Western Europe, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data. 68% of U.S. Christians said religion was important in their lives vs. 14% in Western Europe. But even among U.S. adults who identified as religiously unaffiliated, 13% considered religion as a significant factor vs. 1% of Western Europeans. In fact, U.S. “nones” or “nothing in particular” are frequently as religious as or more religious than Christians in Western Europe. 20% of U.S. adults who are unaffiliated pray daily vs. 6% of Christians in the U.K. 27% of U.S. “nones” believe in God “with absolute certainty,” vs. 12% in Germany. The percentage of “nones” in the U.S. and Western European countries, such as Germany and the U.K. is roughly 25% each. U.S. Christians are roughly twice as likely as Western European Christians to attend religious services at least monthly (64% vs. 31%). 60% of Americans believe in an all-powerful God vs. 25% in Western Europe. 10% of U.S. adults do not believe in any form of higher power vs. 26% in Western Europe. 56% of Americans have faith in the biblical depiction of God vs. 27% of Western Europeans. (Pew Research Center 9/12/18)


What’s Dividing America? It’s not religion. A recent PRRI and MTV study of 15-24 year-olds found they are most likely to say the issue that divides our country is politics (77%), followed by income (57%) and race (48%). Just 38% felt America was divided by religion. (PPRI/MTV 2017 Nat’l Youth Survey)


Invite and Share According to Barna Research, 27% of Christians are “eager conversationalists” who have had at least 10 spiritual conversations in the past year. Compared to the 63% of Christians who have invited someone to church in the past 6 months, it seems people are more eager to extend an invitation than share their personal testimony. We can and should rejoice over the fact that the majority of Christians are inviting others to church. The next step, says Pastor Jimmy Scroggins, Family Church, West Palm Beach, FL, is to continue that enthusiasm for reaching unbelievers by challenging ourselves and our congregations to share the gospel through personal conversations in everyday life. (Facts & Trends 9/26/18)


Low Wage & Education Worker Crises Since 1970, though professional wages have increased dramatically, the inflation-adjusted wages of high-school educated men have fallen precipitously from $11.82 per hour to $10.85. Today, about 10 million working-age men are unemployed or have dropped out of the labor force altogether. All this has taken a toll on the health and families of white working-class Americans, in particular.  Since ’99, drug and alcohol poisonings have skyrocketed 323%. The majority of children in working-class households now live in a single-parent home. Those children face a widening education gap between them and those raised in professional homes. Nobel Prize–winning economist Angus Deaton and his wife, Princeton professor Anne Case, have found you’re more than twice as likely to kill yourself if you only have a high-school degree rather than a college degree. (Christianity Today 10/18)


People Tend to Become Atheists at a Younger Age when their religious parents talk the talk but don’t walk the walk, according to new research published in the journal Religion, Brain & Behavior. The study provides evidence that exposure to religiously-motivated actions plays an important role in the onset of atheism. Religious individuals who were exposed to parents faithfully modeling their own religious beliefs to their children were more likely to report believing in the existence of God with high certainty. (PsyPost 8/26/18)


Death Rates Among Pregnant Women and new mothers have gotten worse, even as wealthy countries elsewhere improved. Today, the U.S. is the most dangerous place in the developed world to deliver a baby. (USA Today 9/20/18)


Are You Innovating Everywhere? When talk of innovation relates solely to products, it misses some of the most important elements of this critical business quality. The most effective strategies foster the discipline of innovation everywhere, including every component of a healthy brand: positioning, product, service or mission, pricing, marketing mix, sales channel strategy, supply chain, finance and management processes. Innovation across the board will do more than just spark top-line growth; it will serve as a catalyst to generate growth in many other critical areas, including finance, strategy and distribution. A comprehensive approach reduces risk to an acceptable level while providing the investment funds to support an aggressive overall business strategy. I can help you craft a comprehensive innovation strategy for your organization. Contact 419-238-4082, or ( 6/20/07)


Attitudes Toward Vocation Even though both mothers and fathers share an equal desire to use their gifts and talents for the good of others (64% and 62%), mothers feel significantly less called to or made for their current work than fathers (38% compared to 55%), finds a recent Abilene Christian Univ. study. (Barna 9/25/18)


The U.S. Divorce Rate Dropped 18% from ’08 to ’16, according to a new Univ. of Maryland study. “The overall drop has been driven entirely by younger women,” claims Professor Philip Cohen. Since the 90s, the prevalence of divorce for people under 45 has leveled off but continues to rise for those over 45. There are clear factors contributing to Millennials, ages 22-37, and some Gen Xers, ages 38-53, staying together. One is the married population is getting older and more highly educated. Newly married women are now more likely to be in their first marriages, more likely to have BA degrees or higher education, less likely to be under 25, and less likely to have children in the household, which can all affect the risk of divorce. This trend represents progress toward a system in which marriage is rarer and more stable than in the past. (USA Today 9/26/18) 


For information on how to become a subscriber to the entire 3-4 page Foster Letter---Religious Market Update, E-mail us at: