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Christians are harder to spot in UK, survey finds

20 May 2022

But more people are willing to hear about faith

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JUST six per cent of adults in the UK are practising Christians — down one per cent from seven years ago, a new survey suggests. One quarter of the 4000 adults questioned who said that they were practising Christians were from black and non-white ethnic-minority groups, which make up 12 per cent of the whole population.

“Practising” was defined as someone who attended church at least monthly, but prayed and read the Bible at least weekly.

Fewer respondents now said that they knew a Christian than had in the last survey: only half reported knowing a Christian, compared with more than two-thirds in 2015. Forty-eight per cent of those polled identified as broadly Christian when asked.

The research is conducted every five years, although the previous survey was seven years ago, owing to the pandemic. The figures were released as part of the Talking Jesus survey, carried out by Alpha, the Evangelical Alliance, HOPE Together, Kingsgate Community Church, and the Luis Palau Association, and published this month.

For the first time, the survey asked non-Christian respondents where they would go to find out about the Christian faith. The most popular response was online, via Google; 22 per cent said that they would go to their local church; and the same percentage would read the Bible.

Four per cent said that they came to faith through seeing Christian content on social media.

The survey also found that almost half (45 per cent) the respondents said that they believed in the resurrection; 20 per cent believed that Jesus was God in human form; and 54 per cent believed that Jesus was a historical person.

Non-Christians tended to have a largely negative view of the Church, although they had a more positive view of individual Christians whom they knew.

The top two traits for the Church were negative: one quarter of non-Christians said that the Church was hypocritical and narrow-minded. One in five had a more positive view of the Church as friendly.

Growing up in a Christian family was still the most common route to faith, although reading the Bible, attending a church service, and a conversation with a Christian were also common routes.

One in three respondents said that they wanted to find out more about Jesus after a conversation with a Christian: up from one in five.

The executive director of HOPE Together, Dr Rachel Jordan-Wolf, said: “This research, that was first done in 2015, enables us to look over seven years and see trends that will help us strategically with church growth.

“It has significant things to say about the Church’s investment in the younger generations, gives us real hope for the future of the Church, and encouragement that now is the moment for evangelism and mission. It reaffirms that, post-pandemic, there has never been a better time, or more need, for us as Christians to invest in making Jesus known.”

The head of mission at the Evangelical Alliance, Rachael Heffer, said: “It presents good news both for the Church across the UK and for us as individual Christian witnesses. It goes to reaffirm that our non-Christian friends think well of us and like us, that there is an ever-greater openness to hear our stories of faith.”

The survey was carried out by Savanta ComRes in February.

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