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

AUGUST 25, 2016 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update



World’s Largest Christian Population Despite the increasing persecution of Christians in China, the nation is on track to have the largest Christian population in the world by 2030, according to OMF International’s Rodney Pennington. Protestantism has been growing in China by more than 10% every year. In ‛80 there were approximately 3 million Christians in China vs. 58 million by ‛10. By 2025, there could be 255 million, yet, China is still officially an atheist country. Since ‛14, the Communist regime has been targeting Christians and demolishing churches, deeming the buildings “illegal.” (Christian Post 7/21/16)


Parents’ Major Role Children of parents who believe religion is very important, and who display their commitment by attending services, are most likely to transmit religiosity to their children. As they mature, those children generally have more positive outcomes in areas of mental health and compassion for others, and demonstrate higher levels of social involvement, moral compassion and purposefulness, according to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data. Yet, the National Study of Youth and Religion indicates many parents abdicate the religious and spiritual guidance of their children. (Insights into Religion 28/16)


Communicate According to a Watson Wyatt Worldwide survey, U.S. worker confidence in senior management declined between ’04 and ’05 from 51% to 49%. Confidence that senior management makes changes to stay competitive dropped from 57% to 53%, and control costs fell from 59% to 55%. Where senior management is “highly engaged” with its workforce, confidence levels actually rose as much as 30 points. I can help you transform your workforce through a cost-effective frequent communication strategy. Reach me at 419-238-4082, or (CFO 3/07)


What is a Zettabyte? By the end of ‛16, annual Internet traffic will bypass 1 zettabyte. A zettabyte equals 1,000 exabytes, which translates to 1 trillion gigabytes—or roughly 3 trillion photos. (


Women Remain More Interested in Faith than men, both in the U.S and around the world. 6 in 10 women say religion is very important in their lives vs. 47% of men. 53% of women and 46% of men attend worship weekly. 61% of women and 51% of men pray daily. 91% of women and 89% of men believe in heaven, 78% of women and 76% of men believe in hell. 88% of women and 84% of men believe in angels. (


Secular Weddings on the Rise among Millennials City hall weddings have nearly doubled in Manhattan since ‛08, according to the NY Times. Nationwide, 39% of millennial weddings take place in church or other place of worship vs. 65% of older Americans. (Facts & Trends Summer/16)


It’s Ok to Talk About Faith Unchurched Americans are not put off by their Christian friends talking to them about matters of faith, finds a recent LifeWay Research study for the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. 47% of respondents discuss religion freely if the topic comes up, 31% listen without responding, while 11% change the subject.(Christian Post 7/29/16)


How Many Muslims Are There?  There were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of ‛10, roughly 23% of the global population, according to a Pew Research Center estimate. While Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion. Indeed, if current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century. (Pew Research Center 7/22/16)


Keeping Customers It is 6 to 7 times more expensive for a business to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one, making customer loyalty and experience a priority. Here are 4 tips to help you: 1. Create a customer “experience” vision. 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. 2. Cultivate knowledge-able staff. On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase, and customers who can rely on employees’ expertise will return. 3. Train staff to advise, not just sell. Customers remember when they receive support and will come back for repeat purchases. 4. Create communities. A business only has a 5-20% chance of selling to a new prospect vs. a 60-70% chance of selling to an existing customer. The more you integrate your business into the community, the more likely the community will turn to you and support your business. A customer experience strategy will help achieve higher customer satisfaction and increase revenue. I can help you do just that. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or

(Incentive 6/9/16)


Church Boards are known by more than 70 names, including the popular Board of Elders (37%), Board of Directors (13%), and Board of Trustees (7%) finds recent ECPA research. The median church has 8 board members, and about half have members who are related to each other or to church staff (48%). 80% of boards include at least one staff member while staff comprises 25% of 63% of boards. 94% include the pastor, who doesn’t get a vote on 30% of boards, is allowed to vote on 43% of boards, and chairs (and votes on) 21% of boards. The most effective boards spend between 21 and 40 hours together over the course of a year. That equates to at least one 2-hour meeting a month. 60% of church boards meet monthly with the median meeting having 90% of members normally present and 20% having 100% of board members usually there. 90% of those surveyed identified fitfulness as the characteristic they most desire in church board members. The No. 2 qualification; being a consistent giver, desired by 52% of respondents followed by having professional or business experience (43%), financial experience (18%), legal experience (5.5%) and having counseling experience (4%). Church board members are generally elected, usually by the congregation after being nominated by a committee (34%) or board (20%). 75% of church boards have term limits, usually ranging from 1 to 5 years. 81% of those surveyed said their board was “very effective.” (CT Gleanings 8/2/16)


Pastors & Apocalypse 48% of U.S. pastors hold to premillennialism, 31% espouse amillennialism, while 11% embrace postmillennialism while 8% hold none of these and 4% aren’t sure. (Facts & Trends, Summer/16)


Most Generous Cities Barna has just released a new ranking of the top 50 most generous cities in America. The top 5 along with the percentage of the population who donated money to charities and nonprofit organizations, including churches and religious organizations in the past year are: El Paso, TX / Las Cruces, NM: 92% / Lexington, KY: 91% / Memphis, TN: 90% / Charleston-Huntington, WV: 90% / Milwaukee, WI: 89%. The majority of dollars donated were given to churches. (Barna Group 7/28/16)


Markets Always Change in response to cultural, economic and political forces. A marketer’s dominance in one period is never assured in the next period, no matter how strong its brand; look at GM and Ford. Yet, it is the nature of dominant competitors to move cautiously to adapt to new market conditions. They do not easily relinquish “proven” formulas that produced so much success. Furthermore, the management, operations and marketing skills that are wed to those formulas run deep within a dominant competitor’s organization, reinforcing internal resistance to change. It’s human nature to become enamored with the trappings of dominance. This opens the door for smaller players who are more in-tune with the changing market and able to respond more nimbly. Often only an outsider can bring enough objectivity to see this subtle “killer arrogance.” I can bring you that objectivity. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or (Internet Retailer 3/07)


Millennials View TV While most experts tout streaming services as Millennials most chosen form of video viewing, one new Video Advertising Bureau report indicates TV is fueling Millennials’ online conversations. Interestingly, TV viewing is actually providing the topics and fuels what Millennials talk about on social media. Other report findings include: • 65 million Millennials watched TV content during Q1 ‛16. • 88% of Millennials watch content on TV, 4% watch via smartphone or tablet. • TV garners 9.1 million Millennials (average audience/minute) compared to 4.1 million for smartphones and 1.1 million for tablets. Millennials average 89 hours of connection to TV per month while spending 43 hours per month with Facebook and YouTube. (BizReport 7/26/16)


Audiobooks Are the Fastest-Growing Format in the book business today. Sales in the U.S. and Canada jumped 21% in ‛15 over ‛14, according to the Audio Publishers Assoc. The format fits neatly in the sweet spot of changing technology and changing behavior. Carrying around a pocket-size entertainment center stuffed with games, news, music, videos and books has conditioned people to seek out constant entertainment. Last year, revenue from audiobooks in the U.S. grew 38%, hardcovers grew 8%, paperbacks 3% and e-books declined 11%. Smartphones have propelled the rise of audiobooks as 64% of American adults now own one. In ‛16, 63% of all cars sold will have a built-in modem or a smartphone connection. Frequent audiobook users buy 40% more books in all formats. (Wall Street Journal 7/21/16)


Most Americans Settle Near Mom U.S. Census Bureau data indicates 1 in 8 Americans move each year, with the typical person moving about 12 times in a lifetime. Yet 50% end up within 18 miles of their mom according to Univ. of Michigan researchers. 75% live within 222 miles (5 to 6 hour drive) of mom. (NY Times)


Contraceptive Pills Impair a woman’s ability to process her emotions and to have empathy for others, finds a recent German study published in the 6/16 issue of European Neuropsychopharmacology. Researchers analyzed 73 women and their ability to empathize. 18 were not taking oral contraceptives; of the 55 who were, 25 were on a “pill free” week. There was a noticeable difference in the emotional responsiveness of the women on their “pill free” week. They had much lower scores when asked to identify their emotions in response to a hypothetical scenario than did the women currently taking the pill. The data indicate impaired emotion recognition in pill users vs. naturally cycling females. If oral contraceptive use is linked to a reduced ability to recognize emotions, this might ultimately have negative consequences for relationship quality by leading to more conflict. Oral contraceptives have been found to increase the risk of diabetes, brain cancer, stroke, breast cancer, blood clots, diminished memory, cervical cancer, paralysis, atherosclerosis, brain shrinkage, high blood pressure and death. In ‛05, the World Health Organization classified the most commonly used oral contraceptive pill as a Group 1 carcinogen, (i.e. a definite” cause of cancer. (LifeSite News 7/20/16)


Too Much Sedentary Time increases the risk of a variety of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, as well as increased waist measurement and mortality risk. Now a new large-scale longitudinal study finds sitting for 10 hours a day is the amount of sedentary time at which an increased risk of cardiac problems becomes noticeable. Also those who are sedentary 12.5 hours on average a day were 14% more likely to experience heart problems than those who sat just 2.5 hours. No increased risk was found for those who were in the intermediate level of sedentary time of 7.5 hours a day. Researchers concluded the increased risk of cardiovascular problems is only seen at 10 hours a day or more of sedentary time. (JAMA /Cardiology 4/16)


Unsustainable Currently, specialty drugs account for less than 1% of prescriptions in the U.S. but represent about 1/3 of total drug spending by consumers, employers and the government. The IMS estimates by 2020 very expensive drugs are likely to constitute an even bigger chunk of drug spending. (Consumer Reports 8/16)


ISIS Feeds on Porn As much as 80% of Islamic terrorists’ seized computers are filled with porn, and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former chief of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, says their porn use contributes to the atrocities they commit against women and children. (LifeSite News 7/18/16)


Non-Church-Attending Americans are generally open to talking about faith but few wonder about life after death. A recent LifeWay Research study for the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism finds 62% of unchurched Americans would attend a meeting at a church about neighborhood safety. 51% would participate in a community service event. 45% would go to a concert. 46% would join a sports or fitness program. 46% would go to a neighborhood gathering. 66% said they were either “unlikely” or “extremely unlikely” to attend a worship service if invited. 74 % were “unlikely” or “extremely unlikely” to attend a “small group for people curious about God.” (Christian Post 7/29/16)


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