St Johns Ashfield - Stained Glass - Good Shepherd "St Johns Ashfield Stained Glass - Good Shepherd" by: Alfred Handel, photograph:Toby Hudson. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

What do people in this nation 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?

These are just some of the questions we at the Church of England, Evangelical Alliance and HOPE commissioned Barna Group to ask on our behalf. But this was not just for curiosity's sake. We are believing, hoping and praying that this study - the first of its kind - will be a major catalyst for effective and focused evangelism in the years to come.

It all began in March 2015 when we gathered more than 40 key leaders of denominations and networks, as well as key influencers from across the spectrum of the English Church, in the Lake District. For 24 hours, we prayed and we talked. We shared our heart for mission; our collective longing to see God move in this nation. We reflected on an initial piece of research of 1,000 people in England we had commissioned Barna to undertake. The results of this first piece of research were shocking.

Futurologist Dr Patrick Dixon, chairman of Global Change, warned the gathering of the danger of institutional blindness. The power of the Holy Spirit was needed alongside the hard work of contextualising the gospel: not an institutional response but a people movement; something simple that enabled Christians to have millions more sensitive, positive, culturally-relevant conversations about Jesus that could be deeply effective in evangelism.

This piece of research had the potential to equip every Christian to have these conversations. But we wanted to make sure. So denominational leaders agreed to fund further, more comprehensive, research - the results of which you will find in this booklet.

There are rare moments in Church history where the unity of God's people is tangible. This is one of those moments. The leaders that initially gathered for those 24 hours at Windermere agreed to work together toward 2050 on some key benchmarks: the number of people that know who Jesus is; the number of non-Christians in England who know a Christian; the number who have had a positive conversation with a Christian; and the percentage of the UK who are practising Christians.

This piece of research should provoke us to prayer as our hearts are heavy with the reality of how little our friends and neighbours understand about who Jesus is. But there are glimmers of hope; we are excited about this unique opportunity to understand the landscape we are in. This is not a quick-fix strategy, but a long-term commitment to changing the story in our nation, so that people might meet Jesus, love him and follow him.

Steve Clifford, general director, Evangelical Alliance
Roy Crowne, executive director, HOPE
Dr Rachel Jordan, national advisor for mission and evangelism, Church of England

Rev Yemi Adedeji, director, One People Commission of the Evangelical Alliance and associate director of HOPE

About the survey

The research was carried out by Barna Group and ComRes. Barna Group is a visionary research and resource company located in Ventura, California. Started in 1984, the firm is widely considered to be a leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture. ComRes is a market research consultancy operating in the United Kingdom and internationally. Established in 2003 at Communicate Research Ltd. ComRes was founded to bridge the gap between communications strategy and traditional market research.

The researchers designed an online survey to administer among a carefully screened sample of 2,545 English adults ages 18 and older who are nationally representative by age, gender, region and socioeconomic grade. The sample error on this survey is plus or minus 1.9% points at the 95% confidence level. Additional data were collected through an online survey among an oversample of 1,592 English practising Christians. The sample error on the oversample data is plus or minus 2.5% points at the 95% confidence level.