The charts below suggest that levels of comfort and desire among Practicing/Active Christians in regard to talking to non-Christians about Jesus have remained quite high since the same statements were surveyed by Barna 6 years earlier as part of the Talking Jesus research project. Where there does seem to have been some reduction (at least 10 percentage points) is in the conviction that it is every Christian’s responsibility to evangelize. However, even here the percentage agreeing is still high.
It is in the following charts, responding to more negative statements, where more dramatic shifts seem to emerge.
In each of the charts above there is a significant swing. Interestingly the difference between AP and AP* (that is between Active Protestants attending church at least once a month and those attending church at least once a week) is very small. The big difference is between 2015 and 2021. While wanting to be cautious interpreting this data and admitting that we cannot make direct survey comparisons (see methodology below), it does appear that active Christians in the UK are less confident, more worried about causing offence, feel less equipped and more inhibited in talking to non-Christians about Jesus than they were 6 years ago.
A number of the questions in the 2021 Savanta NMS survey were chosen to closely follow the questions used by Barna in their 2015 survey which formed part of the Talking Jesus research project. However, comparisons of surveys are always problematic and must come with methodological caveats.
- 2015 Barna/Talking Jesus defined ‘Practicing Christians’ as those UK adults who identify as Christian, of any denomination, who read the Bible, pray and attend church at least once a month.
- 2021 Savanta/National Ministry Survey defined ‘Active Protestants’ as those UK adults who identify as Christian, excluding Catholic and Orthodox believers, who attend church at least once a month.
So the Barna 2015 definition is slightly wider (including non-Protestants) but also slightly tighter (requiring personal Bible reading and prayer at least once a month in addition to church-going). Direct and definitive comparison is clearly impossible. However, to enable some correction for the different definitions, we have also looked at the 2021 NMS results for a tighter group: Active Protestants who attend church at least once a week. These most regular church-goers could be argued to more closely correspond to the Barna definition of ‘Practicing Christians.’
In the comparison charts above:
PC = Practicing Christians (n=1621)
AP = Active Protestants (n=3020)
AP* = Active Protestants who attend church at least once per week (n=1611)