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27 January 2016

UK church leaders: what are the challenges and opportunities for evangelism today?

UK church leaders: what are the challenges and opportunities for evangelism today?

The Evangelical Alliance has been really encouraged as we've heard more and more stories of people coming to faith up and down the country, making a decision to follow Jesus.

We as the Church are called both to love and serve our communities, and to share the life-transforming message of Jesus with them. 

This is not an 'either/or', as Malcolm Duncan reflected at our recent GATHERSOUTH conference, because a central part of 'loving our neighbour' is helping them to see Jesus and to hear and encounter his message for themselves.

As Malcolm described, new life is possible because of Christ's death, burial and resurrection, and that has to be at the heart of who we are and how we act. Like Simba, the young lion in Disney's The Lion King, we must "remember whose child you are", allowing God's heart and  call to shape our strategies and intentions as individuals, churches and unity movements.

Recent research of the UK population shows that 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, Church of England and HOPE, with the support of a wide range of denominations and networks. It explored key questions including: what do people in the UK 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 of the findings were surprisingly encouraging:

·         Two thirds of practising UK Christians say they've talked with a non-Christian about Jesus in the last month

·         One in five non-Christians say, after having a conversation with a Christian about Jesus, they are now open to an encounter with Jesus

·         43% of the UK population say they believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead

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

·         Four in 10 (39%) aren't sure if Jesus was a real person who actually lived on earth

·         Just four in ten (39%) of all English non-Christians has had a conversation with a Christian about Jesus

·         For those non-Christians who have had a conversation with a Christian about their faith, 43% said that afterwards they "felt glad" they did not share the same faith as them

·         Just 9% of the population are practising Christians: regularly praying, reading the Bible and attending a church service at least monthly

·         UK practising Christians are almost twice as likely as the national population to be educated to a degree level – 81% compared to 45%

This research is designed to help church leaders think through the challenges and opportunities for evangelism in the UK today.

The Evangelical Alliance is keen to hear from leaders about your reactions to the findings, and the challenges and opportunities for evangelism where you are:

·         If your unity group would like to host a discussion on evangelism, sharing your views and experiences and discussing the Talking Jesus findings together, please info@eauk.org or call 07920 117 595