Christians are being encouraged to speak out about their faith after a new survey found fewer people in the UK know someone who identifies as Christian.
As part of the Talking Jesus report commissioned by five Christian organisations, more than 3,000 people were surveyed and the findings will be used to help leaders grow the Church and adapt mission strategies.
The research is conducted every five years, although the previous one was seven years ago because of the pandemic. In 2015 68 per cent of non-Christians in the UK said they knew someone who was an active or practising Christian, in 2022 that had fallen to 53 per cent.
Dr Rachel Jordan-Wolf is executive director of Hope Together, one of the organisations involved in the research. She told Premier the findings are disappointing: "It's a significant drop that shows that our reach has diminished, and we've got less contact. There are more non-Christians who don't know an active or practising Christian. So that's something really to watch. It could be because of the pandemic as we've all not been out and about as much. But these are often significant relationships, so someone they call a friend or family member.
"It's a little bit of a warning that we might have somehow shrunk the people we're connected to. So as churches, we need to look out and as individuals, we need to expand our friendship circle and make sure that we've got some great life-giving friendships with people who don't yet know Jesus."
Other findings of the survey revealed that 45 per cent of people questioned believe in the resurrection, 20 per cent believe Jesus is the Son of God and one in three non-Christians wanted to know more about Jesus Christ after a conversation with a Christian.
Dr Jordan-Wolf told Premier this is good news :
"It's so encouraging, it's gone up. In 2015, it was one in five. That's why with the Thy Kingdom Come prayer event, we say pray for one in five - it came out of this research. Now it's really exciting because it's one in three. I wonder if the pandemic and a slightly more wobbly world when people don't know what's happening, has actually made people more interested in faith, but it makes this an even more important moment for us to talk about our faith."
The research was completed by Savanta ComRes in February 2022 using a representative sample of the population of the UK, weighted so that the data can be used confidently as a picture of the whole UK population.
It was commissioned by Alpha, Evangelical Alliance, Hope Together, Luis Palau Association and Kingsgate Community Church.