If you were asked what your personal perceptions were of one) Christians, and two) the church, which words would come to mind for you, and are they generally positive or negative? The Talking Jesus research, launched in April 2022, shows that non-Christians have an overwhelmingly positive response to the Christians that they know. On the other hand, when it comes to describing the church, non-Christians chose more negative adjectives. So, what does this mean for us?

Have you ever been surprised when you have heard someone described but then when you met that person they were completely different to what you were told? The Talking Jesus report shows that although non-Christians say that the church can be hypocritical and narrow-minded, they also say that the Christians they know well (in the main a close friend or family member) are friendly, caring, good humoured and generous.

In the news, we constantly hear of negative news surrounding Christianity, from the fall of many Christian leaders, to church groups’ investments in fossil fuels; it can be disheartening. This is the view that the media often paints, but these perceptions are often not true when it comes to personal relationships. Our research findings really speak into the power of friendship, of intentional relationship and genuine interaction.

So, how can we be more like Jesus in character, word and deed? How can we continue to demonstrate friendliness, care, good humour and generosity? And how can we continue to show God’s love in our communities and friendships? Here are three things we can do as a church:

Be creative

Use the opportunities of popular celebrations to gather and create community. Everything is celebrated – from world emoji day to read in the bathtub day! While we may not wish to celebrate these, why not use Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Bonfire night or others to create opportunity to bring together both Christian and non-Christian friends around low-key, pop-up, but intentional missional opportunities among friends. These events draw people closer together, which may make an invitation to celebrate the power of Easter and Christmas then become easier! Let us be people who don’t only create opportunities for invitation and events but are brave in making them distinctively Christian, with a simple and clear evangelistic message.

Invite people

Isn’t it such a nice feeling when someone invites you to an event or social occasion, when you are welcomed to be a part of something? We all want to feel loved, welcomed and wanted. Let’s choose to be warm and welcoming and open up spaces for people where they too can feel genuinely accepted and part of a wider and loving community. Through these places and spaces, they see Jesus.

Go to them

Jesus sat and ate with people. He invited Himself into people’s spaces of comfort. Let’s inhabit new spaces. For me these places are the boot-camp that I attend three times a week, and the side of my sons’ football pitches where I spend far too many hours! These places open up incredible opportunities for growing genuine but intentional relationships where conversations can often lead to sharing Jesus. 

Let us be reminded of the power of sharing even the smallest nuggets of God’s story and telling of His impact on our lives scattered intentionally within the ebb and flow of our everyday conversations. We are called to live lives loving those around us and to be brave and courageous in sharing His truth.

I pray that the words and stories that we use to describe the character and nature of Jesus would be the words that are used to describe us and also the church. We are people who have the most amazing good news to share, so let us continue to do this and show people Jesus in the way we act, speak and live out our lives.


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