There are various things I can only just remember doing before the invention of the smartphone. There was a time when you had to leave your house and trust that your friend would meet you in the prearranged place without texting to say, “I’m here.” There was the time when you had to wait for your photos to be developed before making your friends envious of how good your breakfast was on holiday. And there was a time when your map did not give you a “similar ETA” or a list of alternative routes to your destination with traffic in real time.

Discovering how people get somewhere is of great value. It means you invest your time and resources more wisely. There are reasons why the paths most trodden offer the least resistance. 

And my favourite pathway is the one that leads to Jesus. I am desperate to know how He finds people.

That’s why the Talking Jesus research that was released last week is gold dust to the UK church. As well as a snapshot of faith across the nations and exploring perceptions of Christians, it also asks the key missiological question of how people are coming to faith. There are some fascinating insights that we can learn from. As a result, here are four things we can do to help our not-yet-Christian friends on their journey of faith:

1. Buy them a Bible. If you were expecting a radical, new, revolutionary approach, you might be disappointed. The research reveals that not only was reading the Bible among the most popular places non-Christians would go to find out about faith, it was also the single biggest influence in someone becoming a Christian, after growing up in a family of faith. So next Christmas or birthday, how about giving your mate a Bible with a note that says, Here’s a copy of my favourite book… I know the author…”

2. Invest in our friendships. The number of non-Christians who know a Christian is decreasing, but 53 per cent still know a practicing Jesus-follower. And the standout relationship is a friend. While the institution of the church is perceived more negatively, Christian friends are described as friendly, caring, and generous. Our friends like us and conversations with people we are connected with are helping them become Christians.

3. Share great online content. The place most not-yet-Christians go to find out about faith is online (26 per cent). Good news is travelling rapidly down the information superhighway. When you see something inspiring that might help a friend and communicate hope and life, post it on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok. As we scroll down timelines full of bad news and cat videos, your contribution might brighten someone’s day and help them encounter the Great Connector.

4. Invite them to church. 22 per cent of not-yet-Christians would explore the Christian faith by going to church, and it remains a common pathway to faith. As church leaders, we need to continue to invest time into thinking about how we make our gatherings as accessible as possible and encourage a culture of welcome and invitation.

In the UK today, many people are discovering the greatest hope in the universe, and these are the routes most trodden. May this research inspire us by the journeys taken and encourage us to invest our energies in the most fruitful routes and relationships.

Dive into the Talking Jesus report and our blog series:

We want to share and explore with you some of the recent findings from the Talking Jesus report. We teamed up with four amazing organisations to undertake this ground-breaking research, which presents an updated understanding of what people in the UK think about Christians, Christianity and the church. This blog series explores the really encouraging and challenging results for us in this post-pandemic season.

Talking Jesus: Are “not-yet Christians” closer to trusting Jesus than we think?

Talking Jesus: Are “not-yet Christians” closer to trusting Jesus than we think?

45 per cent of UK adults believe in the resurrection – but it’s what we do with this new knowledge that matters
Gavin Calver Gavin Calver
Mission
Talking Jesus: How to love people who don't love the church

Talking Jesus: How to love people who don't love the church

Many non-Christians think negatively about the church but positively about their Christian friends – how can we respond to this reality?
Rachael Heffer Rachael Heffer
Mission