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 25, 2019 edition of

The FOSTER Letter—Religious Market Update


Hispanic Faith & Friendship Hispanics and African American churchgoers show more progress in discipleship than white believers, finds the 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment by LifeWay Research. More than other ethnic groups, Hispanics strongly agree that they think about Biblical truths through-out the day (52%), believe that God still loves them in difficult times (55%), believe that self-denial is part of the Christian life (53%) and live to glorify God (50%). They have the highest percentage of daily Bible readers (40%) and are more likely to develop significant friendships with other believers (50%), mentor other believers (32%) and serve people outside the church with tangible needs (38%). ( 8/2/19)


Impromptu Spiritual Moments 78% of U.S. Protestant churchgoers agree they find themselves praying at the spur-of-the-moment throughout the day, with 44% strongly agreeing. Just 8% disagree while 14% neither agree nor disagree. 49% of women do so compared to 36% of male churchgoers. Evangelical Protestants (46%) and black Protestants (45%) are more likely to strongly agree than mainline Protestants (32%). 46% of those who attend a worship service 4 times a month or more strongly agree vs. 38% of less frequent attenders. (Baptist Press 8/16/19)


Sacrificial Decisions A majority of Protestant churchgoers believe making sacrificial decisions to serve Christ is essential to their faith and most try to avoid situations that might lead to immoral thoughts or actions, finds a recent LifeWay Research study. 66% of Protestant churchgoers agree with the statement: “A Christian must learn to deny himself or herself to serve Christ,” with 38% strongly agreeing, while 6% strongly disagree, 10% somewhat disagree and 18% neither agree nor disagree. 77% of Protestant churchgoers agree they try to avoid situations in which they might be tempted to think or do immoral things, with 41% strongly agreeing, 6% somewhat disagree, 3% strongly disagree and 15% neither agree nor disagree. Female churchgoers are more likely to strongly agree they avoid tempting situations than males (43% vs. 38%). (Facts & Trends 8/8/19)


Reality Check Former CBA CEO Bill Anderson states, “It starts with the customer (or constituent). It ends with the customer (or constituent). The fact is our competitors don’t put us out of business; our customers (or constituents) do. And they do it when we give them permission by not being their best preferred option.” Let me help make sure you are not inadvertently giving your customers or constituents permission to put you out of business or ministry. Contact 419-238-4082, or (CBA Resources+Retailers 1/08)


No Gay Gene A new Genome-Wide-Assoc. study of 493,001 people from the U.S., UK and Sweden explodes the false narrative that being “gay” is an innate condition that is controlled or largely compelled by one’s genetic makeup. The study’s first author flatly concludes “it will be basically impossible to predict one’s sexual activity or orientation just from genetics.” The study found a person’s developmental environment (the influence of diet, family, friends, neighbor-hood, religion and a host of other life conditions) was twice as influential as genetics on the probability of adopting same-sex behavior or orientation. A linchpin of the evidential basis for the U.S. Supreme Court decision sanctioning same-sex “marriage,” was that same-sex orientation reflected an “immutable nature which dictated that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment.” This study pulls the rug out from under such thinking. If “gay and lesbian” persons are genetically normal, what basis is there for considering them a distinct protected class subject to preferential treatment under the law or for prohibiting other genetically normal persons from refusing to engage in same-sex behavior? “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (LifeSite News 9/3/19)


Fewer Millennial Christians According to a new Barna study, 80% of Boomers in the U.S. and 83% of elders self-identify as Christians. That falls to 73% of Generation X and 64% of Millennials. Similar generational trends exist among the number of practicing Christians. More than 1 in 3 Elders (37%) are practicing Christians, compared to 30% of Boomers, 26% of Generation X and 22% of Millennials. 86% of practicing Christians say they pray at least weekly, including 86% of Millennials, 87% of Generation X, 93% of Boomers and 90% of Elders. 70% of practicing Christians say they’ve read the Bible in the last week, including 71% of Millennials, 67% of Generation X, 71% of Boomers and 70% of Elders. 80% were at a church service within the last 7 days, including 79% of Millennials, 77% of Generation X, 81% of Boomers and 83% of Elders. More than 70% of self-identified Christians say God is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who rules the world today. 80% of practicing Christians agree, including 84% of Millennials, 85% of Generation X, 89% of Boomers and 91% of Elders. 40% of self-identified Christians believe the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings. That number jumps to close to 66% of practicing Christians, including 65% of Millennials, 64% of Generation X, 66% of Boomers and 65% of Elders. 60% of self-identified Christians say they will go to heaven because they confess their sins and accepted Jesus as Savior. Among practicing Christians, it climbs to more than 70%, including 72% of Millennials, 70% of Generation X, 75% of Boomers and 73% of Elders. (Facts & Trends 8/21/19)


Smaller Families In 1967, 70% of Americans said having 3 or more children per family was ideal. In Gallup’s next measure in 1971, that figure had dropped to 52% and by 1977, it was at 36%. After bottoming out at 28% in later years, Americans’ preference for large families has since increased to 41% in 2019, a long way from what it was 50 years ago. (Gallup 8/16/19)


Cause of Moral Decline U.S. adults attribute America’s moral decline to corporate greed (43%), the negative influences of movies, TV and music (31%) or the decline to a lack of Bible reading (26%). Millennials are most likely to hold greedy corporations as the most responsible (56%), while Boomers (37%) and Elders (45%) are more apt to believe the negative morality shift is caused by the influence of TV, movies and music. 20% of Millennials believe not reading the Bible is the main cause vs. 29% of Gen X, 27% of Boomers and 32% of Elders. (State of the Bible 2019, American Bible Society) (State of the Bible 2019, American Bible Society)


College Students Increasingly Non-Religious Since the 70s the number of first-year college students who identify with a religion has declined by 25%, according to an annual study done by Univ. of California Los Angeles of American college freshmen. In ’77, 93% of college freshman identified with a religion. The latest study, done in ’17, found that number has dropped 23 percentage points to 70%. Also, in 1987, 81% of college freshman said they attended a religious service vs. 70% in ’17%. (Facts & Trends 8/7/19)


Pastors Are Good for the Country A recent AP poll found 55% of Americans believe clergy members and religious leaders have at least a somewhat positive impact on society, with 19% saying they have a very positive effect, while 23% say they have neither a positive nor negative impact and 21% believe religious leaders have at least a somewhat negative impact, including 6% who say it is very negative. Americans are more likely to see teachers (84%), medical doctors (83%), scientists (80%) or members of the military (75%) as positively contributing to society. Pastors did rank higher than lawyers (42%) or business executives (40%).(Facts & Trends 8/22/19)


Broken Market Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean the market cares any longer. It's extremely difficult to repair the market. It’s a lot easier to find a market that will respect and pay for the work you can do. If Wal-Mart or some cultural shift has turned what you do into a commodity, don’t argue. Find a new place before the competition does. It's not easy or fair, but I can help. Call 419-238-4082, e-mail or visit (Seth Godin’s Blog 1/6/09)


The Digital World Is Hurting Our Kids According to a major new study of nearly 10,000 teens by Univ. College London and Imperial College London, social media damages children’s mental health by “ruining sleep, reducing their exercise levels and exposing them to cyberbullies in their homes.” In fact, “using sites multiple times a day increases the risk of psychological distress by around 40%, compared to logging on weekly or less.” (Churchleaders.Com 9/1/19)


Professional Women Dropping Out In ’15, a Barna study found that 27% of professional women are leaving the church and those women make up a significant portion of the 38% of adult Christian women who say they haven’t attended church in the past 6 months. The unchurched gender gap is also shrinking: Just over a decade ago, 40% of the unchurched in America were women; today, that number has grown to 46%. Competing priorities like family commitments, personal time and work or career keep women from regularly attending church on Sundays. Between work and family, they are “on call” 24/7, 365 days a year and Tuesday mid-morning Bible study just doesn’t fit their schedule. ( 9/6/19)


Who Consults Religious Leaders? 24% of U.S. adults consult a pastor at least sometimes, including 6% who do so often, while 26% rarely do so and 49% they never do so when facing a big life choice. Those who identify with a faith are more than seven times as likely to consult with a religious leader (30% to 40%). Americans are more likely to ask religious leaders about charitable giving or marriage than they are to talk to them about finances or sex. More than 80% of those who talked with a religious leader about an important decision say the consultation had at least some value. (Facts & Trends 8/24/19)


Never Assume You’ve Arrived When companies achieve success, they usually quit innovating and become guardians of the status quo. But yesterday’s perfect processes are obsolete tomorrow. Vinyl records were replaced by 8-track tapes. 8-tracks were replaced by cassettes. Cassettes were replaced by CDs. And now CDs are being replaced by MP3 players. The same is happening with business practices. Lesson: Success, like failure, is a temporary condition. Don’t get leapfrogged by the competition! Let me be your innovation advisor. Contact me at 419-238-4082, or (Monday Morning Memo 12/8/08)


Resilient Disciples According to Barna, Resilient Disciples account for about 10% of 18 to 29 year olds with a Christian background. These highly engaged young people have made a commitment to Jesus, who they believe was crucified and raised to conquer sin and death, are involved in a faith community beyond attendance at worship services and strongly affirm that the Bible is inspired by God and contains truth about the world. 89% say their relationships with Jesus brings them deep joy and satisfaction. 83% say Jesus speaks to them in a way that is relevant to their life. 91% say worship is a lifestyle, not an event. 90% want others to see Jesus reflected through their words and actions. 76% believe they have a responsibility to tell others about their religious beliefs. 67% are excited by the mission of the church in today’s world. 70% say they regularly receive wisdom from their church for how to live faithfully in a secular world. 86% regularly receive wisdom for the Bible applies to their life. 94% want to use their unique gifts to honor God. 87% believe God designs each person with a unique calling for their life. 88% agree the church is a place where they feel they belong. 85% have someone in their life that encourages them to grow spiritually. 77% had close personal friends from their church who were adults when they were growing up. (Barna Research 9/4/19)


Colleges No Longer Marketplaces of Ideas A recent College Fix poll reveals 73% Republican college students refrain from sharing their political views in class out of fear of receiving backlash for their conservative views going against campus politics. The poll asked the following question, “Have you ever withheld your political views in class for fear that your grades would suffer?” Even 70% pf students who identify as Republican-leaning independents indicated they’ve withheld their political views to protect their grades. Most data in recent decades has indicated an overwhelming majority of college and university faculty lean to the left and this has proven to stifle most students from expressing their conservative viewpoints. It is contended that Republican self-censorship at the hands of intimidating leftist college professors stifles learning and makes students the victims. “The status quo doesn’t just hurt Republican students, it hurts liberal students as well,” National Review’s Katharine Timpf insists. “Think about it: If Republicans are missing out on the valuable learning experience of having their views challenged because they do not feel that they can express them honestly, then liberal students are missing out on the same experience because they don’t have anyone challenging theirs.”(OneNewsNow 9/8/19)


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