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

September 10, 2019 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


Lonely People Global health service company Cigna has just released results from a national survey exploring the loneliness in the U.S. •46% of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone or left out. •27% rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them. •43% sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful and that they are isolated from others. •20% report they rarely or never feel close to people or feel like there are people they can talk to. •Only 53% have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family on a daily basis. •Generation Z (18-22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations. (IPSOS 5/1/19)


Technology Trust Declines For the first time since ’10, Americans view churches and other religious organizations more favorably than the technology companies whose service and devices dominate daily life, according to a new Pew Research Center report. For the past decade, around 7 in 10 Americans said tech companies had a positive effect on the country, peaking in ’15 at 71%. Today, just half as many Americans agree. No other major institutions examined by Pew (colleges and universities, labor unions, banks and other financial institutions, large corporations, national news media and churches and religious organizations) saw as severe a decline in support as tech brands. The recent dip in approval for tech companies could reflect a helpful shift in consumer engagement. ( 8/1/19)


It’s About Community In these times; people are extremely anxious, unsettled and uncertain because of massive changes introduced by social and economic forces that seem beyond our control. Your business or ministry is not really about marketing, product, net sales or donor revenue—it’s about community. Businesses and ministries that can effectively build community with and among its audiences are the ones that will thrive. This should be in your organization’s DNA. Make me your ‘Community Consultant.’ Contact 419-238-4082, or

Where Do We Find Our Identity? Most Americans say they find their identity in relationships and achievements, according to a new LifeWay Research study. Few Americans, however, say religion in general or faith in Christ specifically is at the forefront of their identity. When asked the open-ended question, “When you think about who you are, what are the first 3 things that come to mind?” 8% say Christian, 2% religious/spiritual, 2% child of God and 1% blessed. More mentioned being a parent (25%), intelligent (12%), their job (11%), compassionate (11%), husband (10%), kind (10%), trustworthy (10%), wife (8%), friend (8%), hardworking (8%) and honest (8%). Most characteristics volunteered were positive or merely factual, but some chose potentially negative traits as one of the first things that came to mind about themselves like lonely (4%), anxious (2%), overweight (1%), angry (1%), bored (1%) or poor (less than 1%). When given a list of potential facets that could be “very important” to their identity, most respondents point to their role in their family (73%) and the good they do (57%) while 51% say what they have achieved and 49% their role as friend. When asked which statement best described their opinion, 42% say what I do determines who I am and 42% say who I am determines what I do while 15% aren’t sure. (Baptist Press 7/30/19)


Bible Ownership 84% of U.S. households own a Bible, up 2 percentage points since ’11, it’s below the 92% who owned one in 1993. Bible ownership corresponds with age: the older a person is, the more likely they are to own a Bible in a language they can understand. 92% of Elders own an understandable Bible, while 85% of Boomers, 82% of Gen X and 75% of Millennial households do. Other households where Bible ownership is more common include the typical Bible-friendly segments: African Americans, whites, married adults, Southern and Midwestern residents and households with children. Previous years’ data suggests most households own an average of 3 Bibles. Not having a Bible at home does not seem to be a factor in Bible use. (State of the Bible 2019, American Bible Society)


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