The Foster Letter ó

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

September 25, 2018 edition of

The FOSTER LetteróReligious Market Update


Ministry Benefits Declining The value of the entire pay package (salary, retirement, housing and other benefits including insurance) for senior pastors was slightly under the pace of inflation (4.6%) for the past 2 years finds the 2018 SBC Church Compensation Study. However, the growth in pay packages for full-time staff ministers (1.3%) and office personnel (1.5%) fell well below the pace of inflation. 23% of churches pay for medical insurance for the senior pastor and his family, 17% provide for the pastor and his wife, 9% provide only for the pastor and 50% provide no medical coverage. 29% of churches provide senior pastors life and/or accidental insurance, 25% disability, 24% dental and 11% vision. Pastors with a bachelorís, masterís or doctorate degree add an average of 3, 3.8 or 4.8 vacation days, respectively, vs. those with no college education. Larger churches tend to give pastors more vacation, with otherwise similarly qualified pastors averaging one additional day for every 271 attendees. (Facts & Trends 8/30/18)


Heavy Seminary Grad Debt According to the Auburn Center for the Study of Theological Education, the average level of debt for theological and seminary graduates who borrowed grew from $11,043 in í91 to $25,018 in í01 and $38,704 in í11. Couple that with the $29,400 debt load of 70% of students who earned a bachelorís degree and seminary grads face a lot of red ink. (Outreach Magazine 10/18)


Pastorsí Greatest Stressors 1. Giving their families deserved time. 2. An unhappy spouse. 3. The glass house. 4. Lacking competencies in key areas. 5. Personal financial needs. 6. Responding to criticisms. 7. Lack of a confidant. (The Rainer Report 8/15/18)


Special Markets Are you looking for a new marketing channel for your Christian products? Let me help you put together a workable plan to penetrate non-traditional channels. Contact 419-238-4082, or


The Use of E-Cigarettes has become an epidemic among teens and needs to be stopped, says FDAís chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb. The FDA is cracking down hard on sales of vaping products to teens and might consider taking e-cigarettes off the market if makers donít do more to stop exponential sales to teens. The AMA says the FDA should ban flavors and also require lower nicotine levels in all cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Studies show teens that vape are also more likely to go on to smoke traditional cigarettes. They also show nicotine in e-cigarettes is addictive and that the other chemicals added as part of the flavoring might be harmful. Makers argue e-cigarettes can help adult smokers quit burnt tobacco products. (NBC News 9/12/18)


Chinese Christians Facing More Bans Chinaís State Administration for Religious Affairs has proposed new rules that ban the sharing of prayer, Bible reading, baptism, communion and other forms of religious activity online. If the draft rules are finalized, existing religious sites will have 6 months to come into compliance. (Christianity Today 9/11/18)


Why Theyíre No Longer Involved Gallup found 35% of Americans attended a place of worship growing up and now no longer go. They asked these people why theyíre no longer involved. 65% of the dechurched prefer to worship on their own. 44% said this was a major factor in their lack of church attendance. 65% claim to not be very religious. 33% cited this as a major factor and 32% as a minor factor. 61% donít like organized religion with 36% citing it as a major factor. 47% donít have time, 19% saw it as a major factor vs. 28% seeing it as minor. 46% havenít found a church they like. 22% say it is a major factor. 45% donít like being asked for money, 30% call it a minor factor. 40% arenít sure what religion is right for them. For 23% this is a major factor vs. 17% as a minor. 34% donít feel welcome. Itís a major factor for 9% and minor for 25%. (Facts & Trends 11/30/17)


Unprepared As many as 20% of pastors admit to not having anything put aside for retirement. And among those who do, the median amount saved is only $30,000. (MMBB 8/23/18))


Many Nones Believe in God but they have a lot of questions about the details of religious belief. A new Pew study of nones (about 1 in 4 Americans) found 60% question a lot of religious teaching. 49% donít like the positions churches take on social and political issues. 41% donít like religious institutions. 37% donít believe in God. 36% say religion is irrelevant to them and 34% donít like religious leaders. (Facts & Trends 8/15/18)


Jobs Americans Wonít-Do-Myth Busted Many jobs often thought to be worked overwhelmingly by immigrants (legal and illegal) are in fact majority native-born, finds a new Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) study. Native-born Americans make up a majority of workers among maids and housekeepers (51%), taxi drivers and chauffeurs (54%), butchers and meat processors (64%), grounds maintenance workers (66%), construction (65%) and janitors (73%). CIS found no field where illegal aliens, including agriculture, hold a majority of the jobs. (NumbersUSA 8/28/18)


Marketing Rules Change The buying mode and mood of the general public has moved from Intuitive and Feeling (NF, right brain/right brain, pattern recognition) to Sensing and Thinking (ST, left brain/left brain, sequential reasoning.) Consumers have begun buying with their heads instead of their hearts. Ads today should be direct, clear and concise. Clarity is more important than creativity, but itís also more difficult to achieve. I can help. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or (Monday Morning Wizard of Ads 2/23/09)


Mercy A recent Barna Group study found most pastors and Christians still believe mercy has an influence on their everyday behavior. 83% of pastors and 63% of Christians say mercy often influences their words and actions. However, another 40% of Christians are less likely to characterize their words and actions as merciful. It remains part of their belief, but they either donít really think about it that much or it simply doesnít influence their actions. (Barna 8/28/18)


China Targets Believers Chinaís ruling Communist Party has issued a revised set of regulations governing membersí behavior, threatening punishment for spreading political rumors and recommending those who cling to religious beliefs be asked to leave the party. The new rules say party members who have religious belief should have strengthened thought education. If they still donít change after help and education from the party organization, they should be encouraged to leave the party. Those who attend activities that use religion for incitement will be expelled. (Reuters 8/27/18)


Peer Groups Influence Gender Confusion 87% of the onset of gender dysphoria seems to occur in the context of belonging to a peer group where friends have become gender dysphoric and transgender-identified during the same timeframe, according to a new Brown Univ. study. 63% had been diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder or neurodevelopmental disability before deciding they were a different gender, as well. Teensí parents also report their children exhibited an increase in social media/internet use prior to disclosure of a transgender identity. More than a third of these peer groups eventually saw the majority of its members decide they were transgendered, with their mental health and relationships with their parents deteriorating as a result. 23% became distrustful of anyone who wasnít transgendered, 25% stopped associating with non-transgendered friends, almost half attempted to isolate themselves from their families and 47% decided that only ďtransgender sourcesĒ could be trusted to provide information on gender dysphoria. (LifeSite News 9/5/18)


Email 24-7 According to a recent Adobe survey, U.S. white-collar consumers are checking personal email every 2.5 hours on a typical weekday. On top of that, theyíre spending an average of 3.1 hours checking work email. 90% check personal email during work, 85% check it before they get to work and 24% take a look before they even get out of bed in the morning. People even check personal email while watching TV (60%), using the bathroom (40%), talking on the phone (35%), working out (16%) and even driving (14%). (Adobe Blog 8/21/18)


U.S. Most Religious Nation Americans pray more often, are more likely to attend weekly religious services and ascribe higher importance to faith in their lives than adults in other wealthy, Western democracies, such as Canada, Australia and most European states, finds a recent Pew study. 55% of U.S. adults say they pray daily vs. 25% in Canada, 18% in Australia and 6% in Great Britain. (The average European country stands at 22%.) When it comes to their prayer habits, Americans are more like people in many poorer, developing nations, e.g. South Africa (52%), Bangladesh (57%) and Bolivia (56%), than people in richer countries. The U.S. is the only country out of 102 examined that has higher-than-average levels of both prayer and wealth. In every other country surveyed with a gross domestic product of more than $30,000 per person, fewer than 40% of adults pray every day. (Pew Fact Tank 7/31/18)


Addiction To Video Games has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a mental health disorder. (Reuters 6/18/18)


Action Steps LifeWay Research found 80% of U.S. pastors say in cases of domestic or sexual violence that occur in the home (physical violence, child abuse or marital rape) outside intervention is needed, 9% say such violence should be resolved primarily within the family and 11% donít know. In cases of domestic violence, 82% of Protestant senior pastors would counsel a victim to seek support from a domestic abuse expert, 8% would tell them to try and improve the relationship with their spouse while 10% donít know. 64% of pastors agree sexual or domestic violence occurs in the lives of people in their congregation while 33% disagree. 62% say their church has taken action against domestic or sexual abuse at least once a year. 96% say they have a responsibility to ask church members about possible abuse if they see signs of domestic or sexual violence while 3% disagree. When responding to a domestic or sexual violence case, 81% of pastors have provided a referral to an agency that assists victims, 70% have provided marriage or coupleís counseling, 46% provided counseling for the abuser and 40% did a safety risk assessment for the victim. 55% of pastors are familiar or very familiar with domestic violence resources in their community while 45% say they donít have sufficient training to address it. (Christianity Today Online 9/18/18)


Fewer Drive to Work The vast majority of U.S. workers remain reliant on cars to get to work, but fewer than a decade ago. In í07, 85% of Americans drove themselves to work and 6% rode with someone else. But by í18, while the 6% of carpoolers has remained constant, there has been a decrease in the percentage who drive themselves to work, edging down to 77%. Meanwhile, the minority of Americans who employ alternative ways of getting to work, mass transportation, walking, biking, working remotely or ďsomething else,Ē has grown from 9% in í07 to 16% today. (Gallup 8/31/18)


Fresh Thoughts Do you have relationships with people outside the company who can bring in fresh ideas and offer third opinions? Every organization should have someone like this on retainer, someone not bound by company politics or the tyranny of the urgent. I can serve this purpose for your organization. 419-238-4082, or


What Is College For? Americans overwhelmingly see higher education as a path to gainful employment (69%) and financial security (55%). This is a view shared across religious demographics: by Christians, by adherents to non-Christian faiths and by those who profess no faith. Practicing Christians (75% prioritize preparing for a specific job or career) and evangelicals (67%), are even more pragmatic and career-focused than non-Christians. Moral and spiritual development are seen as important but not the best reason to pursue a college education. However, practicing Christians (31%) and evangelicals (33%) express interest in ďcontinued professional development that focuses on integrating faith and applying it to their career. 26% of evangelicals are interested in single, one-off intensives, refreshers or work-shops on a religious topic for personal enrichment and 20% say the same about engagement in a religious education hub in their area where they study theology for personal enrichment. ( 9/4/18)


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