ARE YOU RICH? A new survey of affluent U.S. households has defined what it means to be rich. 22% said it means $1 million or more in assets, 45% placed the figure at $5 million, and 25% put the marker at $25 million. The remaining 8% said it takes at least $100 million in assets to be rich. (MillionaireCorner.com) Never satisfied, are we?

WHAT WORRIES AMERICANS? Poverty (78%) and individual personal debt (78%). HIV/AIDS (76%), according to the Barna Group. Illegal immigration (60%), global warming (57%) and TV and movie content (45%) are moderate concerns. Evangelical Christians are most worried about abortion (94%), personal indebtedness (81%) and TV and movie content. (Barna Update 1/21/08)

BOOMERS ARE GETTING GRAY! The Baby boomers, 76 million strong, promise to be the largest group of senior citizens the U.S. has ever known. They will be a spiritual challenge. Only 13% of them report confidence in organized religion. They have a penchant for personalized spirituality linked to an autonomous ethic, freedom of choice, fulfillment here and now – existentialism, but with salvation in the hereafter as well. As Boomers become grandparents, they seem to asking what they can give back to family, community and country. They are searching for meaning in the sunset of life. (USA Today 1/12/08)

WHAT THE WORLD BELIEVES: Of the 6.7 billion people on the planet, 2.2 billion are Christian; 1.4 billion are Muslim; 888 million are Hindu; Buddhists number 391 million; and Jews 15 million. Every 24 hours, we add more than 200,000 people. Christians average 170,000 converts per day, just under the population growth curve. But they also must contend with 91,000 daily defectors. The net growth is only 79,000 each day. 480 Christians die for their faith daily – daily. That’s twenty every hour, one every three minutes. It is an ignored global genocide. Even the church does not mourn their deaths. Of the 2 billion “affiliated” Christians, 1.5 billion are “church attenders.” 25% of them sit outside the organized church or are a part of some underground church movement. Roman Catholics claim 1 billion adherents; 422 million are Independents, 386 million are Protestants and 253 million are Orthodox. 423 million Christians are in Africa; 355 million are in Asia; 556 million are in Europe; 530 million are in Latin America; and just 220 million are in North America. Theses are divided into 39,000 separate denominations and worship in some 3.7 million congregations around the world. Church members globally have an income of $18,170 billion. Christians have comprised approximately 33% of the world population since 1800. (Sightings 1/14/08)

WHY PEOPLE QUIT CHURCH: Only 39% of people who dropped out of the church perceived their church as “caring,” finds Rainer Research. 51% said their church was “judgmental.” Of those who quit, 41% said their church was “insincere.” Only 20% felt their church was “inspirational”. Only 30% felt their church was “authentic” – real. Only 36% said their church was “welcoming.” The survey was focused on 18- to 22-year-olds, an age group that has been shown to be increasing hostile and negative toward Christianity. A majority of this group has developed a bad impression of Christianity, according to The Barna Group. Deeper research indicates a growing trend among this age group, not just outside of the Christian faith, but among those in the pews. Sam Rainer III says, “When we are known more for what we are against than what we are for, what other outcome can we expect?” Young Christians are as likely as non-Christians (22% vs. 23%) to say today’s Christianity no longer looks like Jesus, according to David Kinnaman of The Barna Group. Despite the data, a majority of the young people who did not quit described their church as “caring,” “welcoming,” “authentic” and “inspirational.” Only 19% of those who stayed said their church was “insincere” and only 24% felt it was “judgmental.” (Christian Post 1/23/08)

CHINA ON-LINE: The total number of Internet users in China soared 53% to 210 million at the end of ’07, up from 137 million at the end of ’06. They are now just 5 million behind the U.S. According to The Wall Street Journal, 16% of the Chinese population now has Internet access. The global average is 19%. Most still access the Web via Internet cafes, although home and business use is rapidly growing. (Online Media Daily 1/18/08)

PASTORS IN TROUBLE: H. B. London, Vice President of Pastoral Ministries for Focus on the Family, reports that nearly 40% of the calls to their toll-free number for pastoral care concern marriage and the challenges regarding the pastor’s home. (Pastor’s Weekly Briefing 2/1/08) Pray for your pastor.

POLITICIAN’S AND FAITH TALK: 60% of Americans say they are more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who speaks publicly about following the example of admirable leaders from the Bible and who uses the Bible for guidance in both public and personal matters, finds a Zogby Poll conducted for the American Bible Society. 78% of respondents view candidates citing Scripture when explaining political positions as positive. 84% said a candidate’s servant-leader attitude would impact their vote. (The Christian Post 2/1/08)

SUICIDAL NATIONS: On average 30,000 Japanese people commit suicide annually, reports the National Police Agency. In a nation of 128 million, that’s 24 per 100,000 people – the highest rate among developed nations. In contrast, the U.S. suicide rate is 11 per 100,000. Lithuania has the world’s highest with 38.6 per 100,000. (Secondhand Smoke 2/1/08)

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HISTORY? The London Daily Mail reports that 1 in 4 Britons don’t believe Prime Minister Winston Churchill ever actually existed. Incredible! They believe he was a mythical character, not a historical one. They also think Florence Nightingale, Sir Walter Raleigh, Mahatma Gandhi and Cleopatra were also fictional personalities created just for literature or films. Are we losing our grip on reality? Is our address now in the cyber-media world of make believe? Who do Brits believe in? Sherlock Holmes. They believe Sherlock Holmes was a real person. (WorldNet Daily 2/11/08)

TV AND KIDS! Johns Hopkins University says children ages 2-6 who watch 2 hours or more of TV a day “show signs of bad behavior, lower social skills and disrupted sleep patterns.” Calling the problem of too much TV, “the greatest unacknowledged health threat of our time,” Dr. Aric Sigman, a psychologist, says, Children are watching TV at a critical brain development stage. They are passive, when during a season that requires interaction for the healthy development of their language acquisition and social skills. (Mediawatch-UK, 10/07)

A BAD PLACE FOR CHRISTIANSNorth Korea is the world’s worst place for Christians. According to Open Doors’ 2008 World Watch List, the nation has led the world for 6 years with more arrests of Christians than in Saudi Arabia. In 3rd place is Iran, then Maldives, Afghanistan, Yemen and Uzbekistan. (CR Online 2/10/08)

TEENS NOT TRUTHFULPenn State researcher Dr. Nancy Darling says that 98% of teens reported lying to their parents in a recent study. They lied about a wide variety of things – how they spent their allowances, whether or not they went on a date, the clothes they wear away from home, the movie they saw, and whom they went with. They lied about alcohol and drug use, failed to disclose being with friends their parents disapproved of, about how they spent their time when unsupervised, about the presence or absence of chaperones at a party, about being in a car driven by a drunken teen. 98%, the same number, the same teens, say trust and honesty are essential in a sound relationship. They know lying is wrong – 96 to 98% of them believe it is morally wrong. So what is happening? The most disturbing reason children lie is that parents teach them to do it. When adults are asked to keep diaries that reflect their deviation from true truth, they admit to telling about 1 lie in every social interaction. That works out to 1 per day, on average. Watching and listening to their parents, children become comfortable with being disingenuous. (New York Magazine 2/10/08)

AN ALTERNATIVE TO TRADITIONAL CHURCHA Barna study is finding a growing trend of U.S. adults who are substituting for Sunday attendance in a traditional church service. A growing number believe that there are biblically legitimate alternatives to a Sunday service. The most common are faith activities at home, with one’s family (acceptable by 89% of adults); or a member of a house church (75%); or watching a religious TV program (69%) or a religious radio broadcast (68%); or yet attending a special ministry event (concert or community service activity – 68%); participating in a marketplace ministry (54%), or cyber-church, interacting with a faith-oriented website (45%) and participation in live events via the Internet (42%). (Barna Update 2/18/08)

GETTING STONED FROM COMMON MEDICINES – According to the Mental Health Services Administration, about 3.1 million people ages 12 to 25 have gotten high using cough and cold medicine, about the same number who have used LSD and far more than have used methamphetamines. Mouthwash, with nearly 27% alcohol, has become a popular “beverage.” In Alaska some supermarkets have moved it behind the counter. (Pastor’s Weekly Briefing 2/15/08)
WHO IS HAPPY? 84% of Americans are satisfied with their personal life, with 14% dissatisfied. 66% of married adults are satisfied, just 45% of the unmarried set. At least 6 in 10 Americans who attend church services every week are very satisfied with their personal lives and are very happy. The percentages are lower among those who attend services less often or not at all. (Gallup 12/31/07)

Fast Facts:
  • 60% of the Philippine population does not read the Bible or even own one.
  • 72% of non-church attenders believe “God, a higher or supreme being actually exists.”
  • 86% of non-church attenders say they can have a good relationship with God without belonging to a church.
  • 55% of U.S workers say that if they dress more like the boss they get more respect.
  • The ’06 median annual full-time earnings of U.S. women 16 and older were $32,649. For every $1 earned by men, women earned 77.
  • Of the 293 million working U.S. adults with at least 1 living parent, 21% spend $240 or more per month to help support their parents. 45% of working Americans with grown children provide at least some financial support for those kids.
  • 58% of Americans say they trust business compared to 39% who say they trust government.
  • Just 25% of people in the U.S. who are supposed to receive child support or alimony receive all of it.
  • American workers stay in their job an average of 3.2 years.
  • More than half the books sold in the U.S. in recent years are bought by people over 50, claims Borders Books.
  • 40% of all babies born in the U.S. in ’06 (most recent data) were born out of wedlock, double the rate of ’80. More than 80% of babies born to teen moms in the U.S. in ’06 were born out of wedlock. 60% of babies born to women ages 20-24 in ’06 were born out of wedlock.

This News and Trends column first appeared in the Mission America bulletin and was compiled and edited by Gary Foster, President of Gary D Foster Consulting, a firm that assists Christian ministries and product companies in solving management, marketing, donor/customer service and product development problems. Contact Gary at: 419.238.4082, GFosterCns@rmi.net or go to www.GaryDFoster.com.

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