Landmark research of the English population shows an increasing number of people have little understanding of who Jesus is – with four in 10 not even being sure that Jesus was a real person who lived on earth.

Talking Jesus is the first study of its kind, and was commissioned by the Evangelical Alliance, the Church of England and HOPE, with the support of a wide range of denominations and networks. The original research in 2015 was followed by two new resources in 2017, including new data revealing the views of those aged 11-18 in England.

The research is designed to help Christians and church leaders think through the challenges and opportunities for evangelism today.

Take a look:

  • Talking Jesus – What can I do?  – order copies of the 16-page booklet. Perfect for use in your small group, it features four sections with testimonies and questions helping you explore how to make Jesus known.
  • Talking Jesus: dig deeper – download the more in-depth research report which explores the youth and adult findings side-by-side.

What did the research find?

Talking Jesus explores key questions including: What do people in England know and believe about Jesus? What do they really think of us, his followers? Are we talking about Jesus enough? And when we are, are we drawing people closer towards him, or further away?

Some findings are surprisingly encouraging:

  • Two-thirds of non-Christian adults (67%), and 55% of non-Christian young people, say they know a practising Christian.
  • One in five non-Christian adults (19%), and one in six non-Christian young people (16%), are interested to experience or encounter Jesus after we speak with them about Him.
  • 43% of adults, and 37% of young people, say they believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

But other findings give a stark challenge to the UK Church:

  • A third (33%) of non-Christian adults – as well as 45% of non-Christian young people – say they don’t know know, or aren’t sure whether they know, a practising Christian.
  • 40% of adults and 46% of young people in England either don’t believe, or aren’t sure, that Jesus was a real person who lived on earth.
  • 33% of young people, and 9% of adults, say they are not sure if they believe in any God.
  • 42% of non-Christian adults, and 35% of non-Christian young people, say they felt glad they didn’t share the same faith as the Christian who shared with them.

How people are coming to faith in Jesus

The research also reveals fascinating details about how practising Christians in England came to faith.

Adult practising Christians (many of whom may have come to faith as a child) said that the top three influences on them coming to faith in Jesus were:

  • growing up in a Christian family
  • conversations with a Christian
  • attending a standard church service.

Teenage practising Christians said that the top three influences on them coming to faith in Jesus were:

  • growing up in a Christian family
  • reading the Bible
  • attending a standard church service.

Explore the findings in your area

Unity movements across the country have been exploring the findings, and taking the opportunity to discuss how they can work together to see Jesus known in their place.

“Our Talking Jesus event provoked vitally important conversations, bringing churches together to think about how we might make Jesus known in our region”, shared Pastor Tani Omideyi, who is leader of Temple of Praise church, a member of TfH steering group and chair of the Evangelical Alliance board.

“Significant momentum has been created with leaders calling for follow up events to discuss in more detail the practical next steps and what we can do together to share the good news across the Liverpool City region.”

“This is a great opportunity which shouldn’t be missed, and I would strongly encourage other unity groups to get in touch with the Evangelical Alliance and find out more about hosting a similar event in their area.”

If you would like to host a similar evangelism forum event in your area, do get in touch with us at the Evangelical Alliance.

 Visit www.talkingjesus.org to access all the research.

Evangelical Alliance HOPEChurch of England