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An exhaustive study shows that 2 in 5 believe Jesus is a myth. Evangelical Alliance, Church of England and Hope encourage churches to “understand the landscape we are in.”
What do people outside our churches know about Jesus? Do they know one of us who actively follows Jesus? Have they ever had a conversation with a practising Christian about Jesus?
These are some of the questions a study called “Perceptions about Jesus, Christians and Evangelism” aimed to address.
The survey was responded by 2,545 English adults ages 18 and older, who were nationally representative by age, gender, region and socioeconomic grade.
The Evangelical Alliance United Kingdom (EAUK), the Church of England and Hope commissioned the project to the Barna group.
Some of the key findings among non-Christians are:
MOST HAVE A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER WHO IS AN ACTIVE CHRISTIAN
Among non-Christians, 67% know someone who is a ‘practising Christian’. 60% say they “enjoy the company of the Christians they know” and they “attribute more positive than negative qualities to the Christian they know”, the study shows.
More than half of non-Christians describe their practicing Christian friends as “friendly” and “caring.”
HOW DOES SOMEONE BECOME A CHRISTIAN?
A variety of influences led practicing Christians to make their faith commitment. Growing up in a Christian family was a key factor (41%), attending church services was also important (28%), followed by reading the Bible (27%).
Conversations with a Christian they knew well (27%), an experience of the love of Jesus (24%), an unexplainable spiritual experience (17%) and a particular life event, whether positive or negative (16%), where also among the key factors of conversion.
“85% of practising Christians feel a responsibility to evangelise”, the sudy shows. In fact, “7 in 10 practising Christians are comfortable sharing their faith.”
“LET’S TALK JESUS”
“This piece of research should provoke us to prayer as our hearts are heavy with the reality of how little our friends and neighbours understand about who Jesus is. But there are glimmers of hope; we are excited about this unique opportunity to understand the landscape we are in. This is not a quick-fix strategy, but a long-term commitment to changing the story in our nation, so that people might meet Jesus, love him and follow him”, EAUK, Church of England and Hope conclude.
More figures and downloadable resources can be find on the “Let’s talk Jesus” website.
You can read and download the full “Perceptions about Jesus, Christians and Evangelism” study here.