Churches in Britain are launching a national "call to prayer" on the first Sunday of 2016 in an attempt to reverse negative attitudes towards Jesus and Christianity.
The New Year Prayer day, on Sunday 3 January 2016, comes after new research showed that when Christians talk to friends about Jesus, in eight out of ten cases they put them off. Only in two out of ten cases do they succeed in making them want to know more. The study by the Church of England and the Evangelical Alliance also found that four out of ten adults do not believe Jesus was a real person who actually lived.
Dr Rachel Jordan, the Church's evangelism adviser, told General Synod about the call to prayer as she disclosed that findings that showed the churches' "missing generation" consists of older adults aged between 35 and 64. Normally, the missing generation is believed to be the younger adults, aged under 35.
Dr Jordan said the findings were a "wake-up call" for the church.
Christians from the millennial cohort, aged between 18 and 34, talked about Jesus most often.
The Talking Jesus survey of more than 2,500 adults by Comres and the Barna group found nearly six in 10 of the English population identify as Christian but fewer than one in ten are practising, in terms of praying and reading the Bible regularly and going to church at least once a month.
Dr Jordan said the Church did the research because it was thought people were not talking about their faith. In fact the Church discovered they were, but these discussions did not always having the desired impact.
Researchers also drew hope from the finding that 43 per cent of all English adults believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Dr Jordan said the best response to the survey was to pray.
"We should have more confidence because God is active. More people are interested than I ever anticipated."
The Evangelical Alliance said churches and individuals are being asked to pray during watch night services on New Year's Eve and on the first Sunday in 2016 that "more people would come to understand better the hope that is in Jesus."
The research showed that an increasing number of people in the UK have little understanding of who Jesus is, the EA added. "Christians are being encouraged to respond in prayer to the publication, as well as to embark on a long-term commitment to changing the story in the UK, so that people might meet Jesus, love him and follow him."