A coalition of Christian organizations released a new research on the state of faith and perceptions of Jesus in the UK.
The Talking Jesus report is a two-part study, the first was published in 2015, that shows trends and changes in the church over a seven-year period. It was carried out by the UK Evangelical Alliance (EAUK), Alpha, HOPE Together, Luis Palau Association and Kingsgate Community Church, reports Keep the Faith.
The research answers what people in general think of Jesus, how non-Christians view the Christians they know, and the evangelism landscape in the UK. It gives church leaders information on how Christians, the church, and Jesus are perceived by those who are non-Christians. Researchers hope that the findings of the report will help the church on how to evangelize effectively and reach more people.
This research tells us that there are people who want to find out more about Jesus Christ and encounter him for themselves. —Dr. Rachel Jordan-Wolf, Executive Director at HOPE Together
Some of the key findings of The Talking Jesus include:
- 45% of the UK population believe in resurrection,
- 20% of Britons believe that Jesus is God, and
- 1-in-3 non-Christians want to know more about Jesus after talking with a believer.
“This research, that was first done in 2015, enables us to look over 7 years and see trends that will help us strategically with church growth,” explained Dr. Rachel Jordan-Wolf, Executive Director at HOPE Together.
“It has significant things to say about the church’s investment in the younger generations, gives us real hope for the future of the Church, and encouragement that now is the moment for evangelism and mission. It reaffirms that post-pandemic, there has never been a better time, or more need, for us as Christians to invest in making Jesus known.”
It’s interesting to know that non-Christians find about the Christian faith by searching through Google (26%), followed by reading the Bible (22%) and going to a local church (22%), reports Evangelical Focus. Those aged 18-24, “are the ones most likely to say they would talk to a friend or a family member who they knew to be a Christian (21%).”
Researchers asked non-Christian participants on their views of Christians. More than half, 62%, said they see Christians as friendly and 50% said believers are caring. These perceptions are similar to the 2015 report. But, they have negative perceptions of the church, with 26% saying the church is hypocritical and narrow-minded.
“It presents good news both for the church across the UK and for us as individual Christian witnesses,” said Rachael Heffer, Head of Mission at the Evangelical Alliance. “It goes to reaffirm that our non-Christian friends think well of us and like us, that there is an ever-greater openness to hear our stories of faith.”
Conversations about Jesus
“Non-Christians under the age of 44 are more likely to have a conversation with the Christian that they know about their faith in Jesus Christ, than those aged 45 or above,” said the researchers.
Non-Christians revealed that when they had conversations about faith, 33% were asked what they believed and 30% said the person shared about their personal faith. They also remembered that during their conversation, 19% were invited to a church service and 15% were offered to another discussion about faith.
The majority of practicing Christians, 77%, believe that it is every Christian’s responsibility to share faith and they feel confident talking about their faith to non-Christians. However, 40% of practicing Christians say they don’t speak about their faith because they feel they won’t be able to answer difficult questions about their belief.
Coming to faith
According to The Talking Jesus Report 2022, the top factors that help believers come to faith are growing in a Christian family (34%), reading the Bible (24%), and attending at a local church or Sunday school (19%). Joining a youth club (8%) and Christian printed media (7%) are not much of an influence.
“When we look at the age at which practicing Christians came to faith, it is at first obvious that the younger years are the most significant,” said the report.
Dr. Jordan-Wolf concluded that, “This research tells us that there are people who want to find out more about Jesus Christ and encounter him for themselves. Now is a great moment for personal evangelism and invitation.” She added, “We can see that there is good news to share with the church to give us confidence and a challenge to keep going and not lose heart at this time of opportunity.”