Earlier this month, The Economist published an interesting look at the popularity of Christmas in China, a country that is officially atheist, and makes no room for any official celebration of the holiday.
Churches in China (both registered and unregistered) are taking advantage of the popularity of Christmas to teach people about the true meaning of the festival.
By at least some calculations, the size of China’s economy exceeded that of the United States this month, putting China in first place. Setting aside the fine points of those calculations (which will likely be the subject of much debate for some time to come), it is clear that China’s economic rise has had far-reaching consequences –including for the Body of Christ – both domestically and internationally,.
Often missing in China is a regular opportunity for Chinese Catholics to grow in the knowledge of their faith in a structured setting. In recent years, however, there has been a gradual rise of home-grown initiatives and program models adopted from overseas that are starting to change this situation. Nevertheless, challenges remain and the author looks at a number of reasons (beyond the more obvious political challenges) why the deepening of faith has been difficult.
An introduction to the 2014 winter issue by the editor of the ChinaSource Quarterly.
The guest editor's point of view.
Items that require your intercession.
The author begins by sharing his encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ then continues by explaining his deep interest in the Catholic Church’s articulation of truth about Christ and the church as well as their relation to society. He looks at the current situation of the Catholic Church in China and concludes with the suggestion that the Internet can be used positively to bring church unity.
This afternoon the good folks at FEDEX delivered a small package to my house, and it wasn’t even a Christmas present. In fact, it was something better — my passport, with a brand-spanking-new Ten-year, multiple entry tourist visa to China.
Paul Mariani makes an essential contribution to the history of the Catholic Church in China during the twentieth-century when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) targeted religious organizations. Through research which includes previously unreleased classified documents and his multifaceted treatment of this turbulent period, he provides a gripping narrative of the gradual, but increasingly tension-filled, showdown between the CCP and the Catholic Church in Shanghai.
A young, Chinese woman shares her thoughts and experiences from World Youth Day which she attended in Madrid, in 2011. Included in her account are her reflections on several places her group visited as pilgrims as they journeyed to Madrid. She also shares the life-changing impact this event had for her as she dealt with issues of sin and forgiveness.
China’s young adults are searching for meaning in their lives. The Catholic Church is working to help them realize their God-given potential and allow them to discover their special calling in Christ. One obstacle to this is that many Catholics lack a strong belief in a personal God who loves them and created them for a special purpose. The author examines how the Catholic Church is dealing with these issues.
Ms. Yang spent two weeks in China on a retreat with religious sisters from the Catholic Church. Many of these Chinese sisters were facing struggles with a variety of issues including the lack of proper formation, community, opportunity for growth, and resources to provide for their educational, personal, and spiritual needs. While not representative of the Catholic Church in its entirety, her experience still provides helpful insights and fuels suggestions for nurturing these sisters.
Inspired by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Sacred Spaces offers daily meditations on Holy Scripture and personal reflections aimed at helping us get in touch with God and experience his presence in our lives.
Much is written these days about what makes China tick. It's the pragmatism. It's nationalism, and the desire to be a player on the world stage. It's "socialism with Chinese characteristics," which to some is just another way of saying capitalism.
Guest blogger Joel 大江 shares "some genuine Chinese Christmas songs, as in songs written by Chinese in Chinese and in a Chinese style, rather than sounding like corrupted English songs." This post originally appeared at China Hope Live on December 9, 2012.
In September, the mainland site Christian Times published a piece originally posted on the China Home Schooling Alliance website about Christian education in China. In the article titled “Church Schools or Home Schooling?”, the author lays out what he believes to be the difference between Christian education conducted within a church setting and home schooling. He then sets out to argue that home schooling is the most effective way for Christians to educate their children.
In September, the mainland site Christian Times published a piece originally posted on the China Home Schooling Alliance website about Christian education in China. In the article titled “Church Schools or Home Schooling?”, the author lays out what he believes to be the difference between Christian education conducted within a church setting and home schooling. He then sets out to argue that home schooling is the most effective way for Christians to educate their children.
The article provides an interesting glimpse into a conversation online taking place among Christians in China regarding an important issue. Due to the length of the original article, it is posted in two parts. Part 1 was posted on December 9, 2014.
What a difference a decade makes! Over the last ten years the nation of China and the Chinese church have changed significantly; so has the world. It’s a new China. It’s a new church. It’s a new world. China’s Cultural Revolution that ended in the late 1970s was followed by a 20-year-long spiritual harvest spanning the 1980s and 1990s. It was an awakening that many have called the greatest revival in history; but now we must face the reality that this phenomenal harvest is over. The year 2000 marked a turning point, the dawn of a new era. This important report brings to the fore the realities of the current situation and brings to the church in China some crucial words of encouragement.
That's a question I hear quite a bit whenever I speak on China. People want to know about the availability of Bibles in China. Unfortunately many people still believe that owning a Bible is illegal in China, something that hasn't been true for decades. But as with most things in China, the issue of Bible availability is complicated.
A look back over the past year.
Given the relatively opaque nature of China's church, international organizations have often found it difficult to know where to connect. Chinese representation at several high-profile international conferences in recent years has, in some ways, been a welcome breakthrough. These events have ostensibly helped to bring together a wide spectrum of leaders from within China with those from abroad who are seeking to partner with them.
A month or so ago I was having a lovely outdoor dinner with group of friends, one of whom was a high school kid from Beijing studying at a school here in the Twin Cities and living with an American host family.
The popularity of Christmas in China (primarily as a commercial activity) has given Christians increased opportunities to share the gospel. In the short article translated below, a preacher in Beijing encourages his parishioners to be intentional about inviting family, friends and colleagues to church during the Christmas season.
In Mobilized Merchants - Patriotic Martyrs, Dr. Timothy Conkling sheds much-needed light on the relationship between China's unregistered church and the Chinese Party-State. The dissertation research that forms the basis for the book set out to answer the question of why Chinese Christians are persecuted and how they respond to this persecution.
All our favorite stories this week are about people or communities that are on the margins of Chinese society, either culturally or geographically: Orthodox Christians, Uighur factory workers, Hong Kong taxi drivers, and Miao villagers in Guizhou.
On November 1, 2014, The Economist published an excellent article about the church in China, titled "Cracks in the Atheist Edifice." Written by veteran correspondent Rob Gifford (author of China Road), the article gives an overview of how the church (and individual Christians) in China are stepping out of the shadows, and the various ways in which the government is being forced to deal with this growing and more visible church.
As the church in China has become increasingly global in its outlook and better connected relationally (if not organizationally) to the larger global church, its leaders are seriously weighing their role in the task of world evangelization. This cross-cultural vision is not new, either for the Chinese church globally or for the church in China; however, it is the resources, connections and capabilities of the urban church that are now making possible the emergence of a new missions movement from within China.
Chinese young people are no different from their counterparts anywhere in the world in that a main question they face is the one of whom to marry. China’s rise and modernization has, in some ways, made this a more complicated question as ideas about marriage and qualifications for a spouse have evolved.
In July, I wrote a post titled "Ten Lessons from the Church in China" in which I highlighted ten responses by foreign Christians in China to the question "what specific lessons can the church in the West learn from the church in China?"
In past decades, China's church had much less of a public presence. The gospel message was conveyed primarily through clandestine small group meetings or personal relationships.
This week's top picks...
In a recent ChinaSource Quarterly article entitled, "Five Profound Mentoring Needs in China," Eric Lee notes that the most common requests from Chinese church leaders during the past three decades have been for Bibles, spiritual literature, and training. Now, however, they are asking for cross-cultural missionary training and mentoring.
In recent years Calvinism has become an increasingly common topic of discussion within Chinese Christian circles. This trend has not gone unnoticed, and many scholars of Christianity in China are working to document and understand the growth of Reformed Christianity within the mainland.
In the mid-1990s, while studying Chinese, I stumbled across a Chinese expression that was a "key" to helping me understand what was going on. I was working through a textbook called Speaking of Chinese Culture that taught about key Chinese cultural rules and values. One chapter was on this Chinese concept called nei wai you bie (内外有别), which means "insiders and outsiders are different."
With literally hundreds of crosses falling prey to overzealous local officials in Wenzhou and neighboring cities, the region once seen as a bastion of extraordinary religious freedom is now the subject of worldwide attention due to an equally extraordinary crackdown on its churches.
Drought, art, and wedding photos - our top picks for this week.
As we post this issue of The Lantern, China’s top leaders have just concluded their annual Party plenum in Beijing. During this “Fourth Plenum” they gave shape to policies that will be endorsed by China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, in the spring.
Contrary to what many think, getting ahold of legally published Christian books in China is quite easy. In addition to Christian bookstores, which exist in most major cities, China's e-commerce site Taobao is a great source of Christian material.
My son was accepted by Peking University this year. We are very happy with his success, but as a caring, loving father, I know how much my son struggled and was pushed by the educational system in his early school years. Growing up in today's Chinese educational system is not easy or pleasant. Many of my son's friends were greatly disappointed when they were not accepted by a "good" university after so many years of working hard together with their parents. Tragically some students choose suicide to express their disappointment.
When trying to understand the church in China, it's easy to let predetermined narratives drive our interpretation of the things we observe. A recent article in the Huffington Post is a clear example of this.
Chinese Church Voices is running a series of articles taken from a lengthy interview with a Reformed unregistered church pastor in China. The fact that the Christian website in China where the interview originated gave the topic such in-depth attention, and the fact that this particular pastor (and many others like him) are such strong advocates of Reformed theology, raise the question of why denominations have become so attractive to Christians in China.
Our top picks this week include articles on poverty and leadership and an interview with one of our favorite China authors.
This year’s attacks on church buildings in Wenzhou have been the subject of much analysis, the majority focusing on the relationship between church and government in Wenzhou. The following blog post, written by a Christian in China, and published in the mainland Christian Times, takes a closer look at the impact on the Wenzhou church itself.
Anyone serving in China knows that one of the more vexing issues to deal with is "security." How public can / should I be about my faith? How public can/should I be about the faith and values that undergird my ministry?
Since China's great gǎigé kāifàng (Reform and Opening) experiment was begun by reformists in the Communist Party of China (CPC) under Deng Xiaoping in late 1978, tens of thousands of articles—in print and online—have been written about the huge changes and nearly miraculous standard-of-living improvements that have happened throughout China.
Reformed theology has found fertile ground in China, particularly among urban unregistered churches.
Reformed theology has found fertile ground in China, particularly among urban unregistered churches.
What does it mean to be Chinese? Three articles this week highlight the complexity of being Chinese.
On October 1, the Cornerstone Blog of The Religious Freedom Project at The Berkeley Center published two helpful posts on religious liberty in China.
On September 3, we posted a translated article about the trouble that anti-cult campaigns often cause for house churches because government officials, scholars, and ordinary people often don't know the difference between a cult and a house church.
During a recent conversation with a Chinese friend I listened as he recounted his conversion to Christianity and the difficulty he experienced overcoming his deeply ingrained tendency toward self-reliance.
Somewhere between my third and fourth trips to the bank to open a new account, it hit me. I realized why I was so frustrated. In my efforts to negotiate a system that seemed, to me, overly complicated, I had made a serious tactical error.
Items that require your intercession.
Mentor: “A good teacher and valuable friend.” With this definition, the author shares how three mentors have made an impact in her life and testifies to the reality, omnipotence, compassion, and greatness of her Heavenly Father.
The author shares from her experience as a mentor giving us glimpses of three different women she has shared her life with, and how her interactions with each of them have brought about changes in their lives. She closes with a summary of what being a mentor has required of her.
The following resources were recommended by WWL participants as helpful in coaching, mentoring and spiritual formation.
Lee identifies five areas where Chinese leaders need mentoring due to a lack of positive influences in their lives. He examines each of these areas and shows how mentoring can fill the voids left by unfulfilling or nonexistent relationships.
The past decade has seen a groundswell of passion among Christians in China to pursue cross-cultural ministry. A corresponding wave of activity among outside organizations and churches has aimed at equipping China's church for this task.
The guest editor's point of view...
Rose and Hunter look at characteristics of churches and businesses that indicate their need for coaching and go on to explain what coaching entails. Rose describes how she has put coaching into practice in the ministries she is involved with at her church and acknowledges the blessings this has brought to the church body.
After many years of devoted prayer and Christian living, we sometimes find it difficult to feel God’s presence. In our pursuit of a deeper prayer life, we often come up dry and wanting. Fr. Green provides an important understanding of prayer for many Christians who start to wonder why their prayers have begun to feel empty. Using the examples of some of the great mystics of the Christian tradition, he imparts to us some of their wisdom so we can better understand the journey of the interior life and the true call to faith in prayer that the Lord gives us.
Learning and insights from a recent consultation for mentors and coaches are reported in this article. It delves into many aspects of mentoring, coaching, and spiritual formation including the value of both older mentors and peer mentors. It also provides helpful suggestions for finding a mentor and a mentee.
For this week's Top Picks, we are re-publishing a post by Joann Pittman originally posted to her blog, Outside-In, on September 30, 2014.
On September 30, Austin Hill, host of the Austin Hill in the Morning program on Faith Radio, interviewed Brent Fulton about the situation in Hong Kong.
Cross-cultural workers have long debated the merits of devoting more or less time and energy to relations with other expatriates.
In August, the Christian Times published a two-part interview with a pastor from a Reformed church in China. We have translated and divided that interview into three sections. In this section (our Part 3) “Pastor Daniel” discusses the importance of attitude in preaching Reformed doctrine, specific lessons learned, and how it has impacted renewal in many urban churches in China.
Earlier this month, William Wan wrote an excellent article in the Washington Post, title "Prophet or Judas? Son of China Church Founder Tackles Thorny Legacy." The article introduces us to YT Wu, the man who, in the 1950's founded the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee that became the umbrella organization for Protestant Churches in China. The article is specifically about Wu's son's attempts to access his father's personal diaries, which remain in the hands of the government.
The past three decades have seen tens of thousands of Christians from outside China engaged in myriad activities aimed at serving the Chinese church and society. Today their role is changing. New skills – one in particular – are needed to work out what this role and what their relationship to China's church should look like in days to come.
Our top picks this week shed light on some of the less known aspects of Chinese society – ecommerce, traffic wardens, and iPhone mania.
Our family lived in a tier one city in China for over five years, and during that time I homeschooled our children of various ages. While there I had the opportunity to mentor some Chinese homeschooling mothers, both one-on-one and in workshop settings. I also enjoyed teaching a session to Chinese Christian teacher-trainees on how to develop picture books into unit studies, and my older daughters and I had some experience teaching English at a bilingual Christian pre-school.
I recently went to my local bank to receive an electronic bank transfer. I have been a customer at this bank for nearly 15 years, and so the idea that I have to show up with ID and fill out reams of paperwork just to "accept" a wire transfer into my account does not upset me. On this occasion, however, I was a bit anxious. Having only just returned to China, I was still waiting for my residence permit to be completed. This meant that my passport was still in the hands of the city Public Security officials—and would likely remain there for the next couple weeks.
The BBC article "The Chinese cult that kills 'demons'" prompted a reader to ask recently, "Have you heard of this cult?"
This is the second part of an interview with a Reformed church pastor that was originally published in the Christian Times.
For those in long-term service in China, one of the difficulties in discerning where things are headed politically and socially is knowing how to separate out significant long-term trends from those events that, while appearing important in the moment, may prove to be mere distractions. This is particularly true for those working with the church in China, who often attempt to "read the tea leaves," through the lens of religious policy and its immediate affect upon China's Christians.
The past year has seen a steady stream of stories about foreign companies in China being under investigation for regulatory violations and/or outright corruption. The offices of Microsoft were raided. Japanese, German, and American automakers are being probed. Two British nationals working for GlaxoSmithKline were recently jailed. And a Canadian couple that ran a business in the border region near North Korea has been detained on suspicion of stealing state secrets.
Former Hong Kong Chief Secretary Stephen Lam has a unique understanding of "One Country, Two Systems," the policy whereby Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. As director of the office that oversaw the Handover ceremony and related events, Lam worked with both British and Chinese officials to write a significant chapter in China's contemporary history.
Soft power, subways, and cell phones – our favorite stories of this week.
"Stream of Praise," a California-based music ministry has had a profound influence on the music sung in churches in China. If you have been to China and attended an urban house church or a "youth service" at a Three-self Church, then you have most likely listened to, or sung, their songs. Founded in 1993, they have written 330 songs, and sung at more than 1000 events around the world.
One of the interesting developments in the church in China over the past decade is growing popularity and influence of Reformed theology, particularly within urban house churches. This has come about as the Christians in China have had increasing opportunities to interact with the church outside of China, either directly, or via the Internet. Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion has been translated into Chinese, as have the writings of prominent voices in the “New Calvinism” movement in the United States, such as Tim Keller, D.A. Carson, and John Piper. Probably the most influential figure, however, is Rev. Stephen Tong, head of the Reformed Evangelical Church of Indonesia.
The notion of social renewal is a common theme among urban church leaders as they consider what it means for the church to take its place on the stage of society. The need for social renewal is linked to the recognition that there is currently no shared belief system among China’s people.
American Christian parents face tough decisions about to how to best provide for their children’s education. But the toughest part is often deciding between a comparatively rich supply of good and legal options – local Christian schools, homeschooling (with a nearly overwhelming array of good curriculum and models), co-ops, hybrid homeschool/co-op, on-line Christian school, sometimes a good public school influenced by Christian teachers and administrators. All these choices offer their children a quality education and a clear path into college and the workplace.
Consider the two basic choices facing Chinese Christian parents.
Three articles – each looking at China-related migration of one sort or another. Take a look, you will surprised at what you learn.
I'm sure you've done it, I know I have. Asked a Chinese friend or colleague what stood out to them if they had a chance to visit your home country. I enjoy hearing what stood out to them or to friends who have visited me in China. Their impressions help me to see afresh the places I care about.
Last week five members of the Almighty God cult (formerly known as Eastern Lightning went on trial for brutally murdering a woman in a MacDonalds restaurant in Zhaoyuan, Shandong Province. The murder shocked the nation and prompted the government to launch a nationwide crackdown on illegal cults, or xie jiao (lit. evil religion).
Our friends at Catalyst Services picked up on a recent ChinaSource blog by Brent Fulton that asked "Does China Need More Leadership Training?" To further the discussion they asked others who are involved in training leaders globally for their responses to the blog and included them in their monthly e-newsletter, Postings.
To celebrate the start of a new school year, two of our top picks this week have to do with language learning. The third one is a look at China's internet censorship regime.
The first time I crossed a cultural boundary; I was but 1 year old! And no, it wasn't my parents whisking me off to some far-off tropical land; it was my family returning to the US after a term of service in Pakistan.
Every Chinese leader since Chairman Mao has had a slogan (and accompanying campaign of some sort) that was meant to define their rule. President Xi Jinping's slogan is "The Chinese Dream." The organizing principle of his predecessor Hu Jintao's rule was "Harmonious Society."
A decade ago David Aikman wrote Jesus in Beijing, provocatively subtitled "How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Balance of World Power."
Mike Falkenstine, President of the China Resource Center, an organization that does Bible distribution in rural churches (registered), recently returned from a trip to China, in which he had the opportunity to seek help from his friends and partners in understanding some of the recent events in China, particularly the cross/church demolition campaigns in Zhejiang.
"This is crazy," I observed to my audience of parents and high school students in Beijing. "Why on earth would parents send their 14- or 15- or 16-year-olds to the other side of the world for schooling, especially when studies show some of the best schools in the world are in your own country?"
The piece translated below is from a post on the Weixin (WeChat) page of the Beijing Gospel Church, one of the citys more prominent house churches. The writer is sharing his thoughts on the nature of worship in the church.
笔者从前在北美， 并与当地的中国留学生一起工作, 他提出北美的中国教会应如何修改自己的策略，以达到这些学生的问题。他与后现代学生接触，并从他的经验来解释及引申有用的例子。
Our top picks this week are all on the lighter side. We hope you find them as interesting as we did.
Churches have been demolished in Wenzhou, Christian workers detained on the North Korean border, and a leading religious official proclaims that a "Chinese theology" is needed so that the church can serve socialism. These developments have featured prominently in the news in recent weeks, with more than a few commentators concluding that a crackdown on Christianity in China is underway or soon will be. However, a closer look at the events in question suggests otherwise.
I have done a lot of cross-cultural training over the years for people heading off to work in China, and one of the resources that I turn to again and again is Turning Bricks into Jade: Critical Incidents for Mutual Understanding among Chinese and Americans. Edited by Mary Wong and others, this book is a collection of "critical incidents," or stories of cross-cultural conflict and misunderstanding between Chinese and Americans.
Given the prevailing "persecution" narrative perpetuated in media reports about China, one could easily conclude a hostile, repressive regime poses the biggest threat to China's church. But is government persecution really what keeps believers awake at night? Or is the answer found within the church itself?
The article translated below is from a Chinese website called Urban Mission (jidutu123.com). In it the author ponders what role Protestantism can play in the future development of China. He begins by talking about the transitional nature of Chinas current social and political systems and where Chinas current reforms may or may not be headed. He then draws on the writings of German sociologist Max Weber to understand the current situation in China today, to the point of comparing contemporary Chinese society with the German Weimar Republic. Finally, he argues that the main contribution Protestantism can make to the development of China is constitutional government.
On Tuesday, August 12, Brent Fulton was a guest on the "Connecting Faith" program of KTIS-AM radio in Minneapolis-St. Paul. If you were not able to listen to the broadcast live, have no fear; the entire one-hour program is available in podcast form on the radio station website.
Two glimpses of China's past and the impending trial of a recent infamous murder top this week's list of items not to be missed.
First it was Chinese graduate students and scholars going overseas to study. Then undergraduates joined the ranks of international students from China. Now there are thousands of young Chinese students arriving in the US for high school.
According to Rob Gifford, China Editor for The Economist, much has been written about the growth of the church in China, but to understand the church's impact we need to look beyond the numbers.
On August 3, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck a remote region of Yunnan Province, in China's southwest, killing more than 600 people. The Chinese government quickly launched rescue operations and continues to provide relief for those affected. But what about the churches in the area? A reporter from the mainland site Christian Times talked with a local pastor in the area about how the churches in the area are responding. The article is translated below.
Recently I found myself in a discussion with several colleagues about what it takes to "partner well" in China.
The stories that captured our attention this week provide glimpses into religion in China, an arrest, and the Chinese student community in Los Angeles.
When US Air flight 1549 landed unexpectedly in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009, the pilot, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, III, became an instant hero. But there were other heroes on the Hudson River that day as well.
Rev. Stephen Um, pastor of City Life Presbyterian Church in Boston, recently talked with the folks at China Partnership about his observations and hope for the Chinese church.
"Most large consumer-facing companies realize that they will need China to power their growth in the next decade." McKinsey Quarterly, March 2012
The news out of and about China this week is incredibly eclectic, just like China itself.
A previous generation of Chinese Christians, cut off from all outside contact and separated from their leaders, was forced to rely upon the Lord alone as they sought the way forward. This seeking after God was an important part of their maturing process, and their testimonies bear witness to his faithfulness. While acknowledging that China and its church are at a much different place today, it is nevertheless worth considering whether outside intervention may unintentionally serve to short-circuit the process by which God seeks to mature the current generation of Chinese church leaders.
It is often said that summer is for reading. We at ChinaSource love to read all year long, but we thought you might be interested in what members of the ChinaSource team have in our book bags this summer.
"How many Christians in China?"
"Are believers still persecuted?"
Churches, migration, and anti-corruption campaigns are the topics of this week's Top Picks from the ZGBriefs Newsletter.
On July 17, a Malaysian Airlines flight travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot out of the skies over eastern Ukraine. 298 souls perished. In the days following, many Christians took to Weibo to express their condolences. We have translated a few of those posts below.
Generosity is an unequivocal characteristic of the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. It is the joyful life that flows freely and richly from a heart that has been set free by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the way Christians bear the image of the God who "so loved the world that He gave "
"Where are their pastors?" my Chinese colleague asked incredulously as she counted the visible tattoos on the arms and legs of some of the newly arrived Christian English teachers. "How can their pastors allow them to have tattoos?"
The rigid control structures comprising the "box" within which China's church currently operates are often assumed to be merely a function of China's Leninist political system. Were this system to be dismantled, one might argue, the "box" would come apart and China's Christians would enjoy genuine freedom of religion.
A big part of observing China is trying to figure out what is really going on. For those following recent events regarding the church in China, this has been especially true.
As the church in China continues to grow and mature, one of the issues that is coming to the fore is that of music. Until recently, much of the music played and sung in Chinese churches has been on the traditional side translated western hymns or indigenous folk-style music (popular in rural churches). Only in the past few years have we seen the emergence of what might be described as Christian Contemporary Music, popular, as one might expect, among the younger generation, particularly in the cities.
Cultural Foundations of Learning: East and West by Jin Li.
Reviewed by Lisa Nagle
There are deep cultural differences between Eastern and Western societies regarding learning and development. The notion of whether creativity is learned or not is just one of these. This book explores some of the differing approaches to learning found in these cultures and concludes with a look at them in the twenty-first century.
The guest editor's point of view
The author talks about his experiences as an international student from China who came to the U.S. to study in high school. He tells us of the challenges he faced and the sacrifices his parents made. He points out major differences between the two cultures and shares with us how the experience has changed him.
When teens move to a new country, going from east to west and from the familiar to the unfamiliar, they face tremendous pressures in addition to the challenges of their young lives. Who will care for and guide them during the days of transition? Chen examines how schools, host parents, churches and Christian organizations can ease the pressures, make the transition easier and introduce them to the gospel.
In today's China, Christian education is booming. This article looks at the emergence of this movement, the involvement of Christian churches, parents' perspective of it and their role in it. An overview of the current situation includes home schooling, legal aspects and the influence of a market economy upon it.
The high school principal of a Christian school, Kuder shares from her experience as an increasing number of international Chinese students attend the school. She candidly discusses preparations, support and changes the school implemented to establish a high rate of student retention.
Keith believes that international students, particularly from China, with the strengths of their home culture and educational system plus the implementing of the "6 C's plus Leadership" learned in America, will eventually become the leaders of tomorrow in their country. The American Christian school movement has a unique opportunity to invest in Chinese teenagers who may someday lead one of the most important countries of the world.
China is in the midst of an education explosion.
Items that require your intercession.
This resource list includes organizations working with international high school students, resources on the internet including You Tube videos and news articles.
We included quite a few articles about education in this week's ZGBriefs, but a couple of them stood out to us. One is a podcast discussion of education in China; the other is a look at Chinese study abroad programs. In addition, there were two articles about the Uyghur experience in China following recent terrorist attacks that caught our eye.
Up until the beginning of this decade, China's elderly and young adult populations were growing at roughly the same rate.
One of my favorite blogs is the China Law Blog, maintained by lawyers with extensive knowledge of and experience in China. It seems like they always have something interesting and helpful to say.
Anyone who has worked in China for even a short period of time has likely been warned about bringing up sensitive topics, especially political issues and certain historical events. There is great wisdom in avoiding these topics. After all, many of our initial perceptions of difficult history and current events are sure to be biased by our own media and education. It is better to observe, listen, and critically evaluate what we think we know with intentionality and in relationship. Our perceptions must be reworked in light of the real experiences of China's people.
China is facing some unique demographic challenges, not the least of which is an aging population. Currently, roughly 8% of the population is 65 or older. However, according to a report by the BBC, that number is expected to be 12% by 2020, and 26% by 2050.
We live in an era when partnership between the church in China and the global church is both desired and increasingly possible. The challenges facing the church in China have evolved significantly in recent decades A survey of these challenges may lead some to conclude that church life in China today is not that much different from church life in the West or among overseas Chinese communities in Asia. Postmodernism, urbanization, secularization, and family breakdown are endemic to industrialized and post-industrialized societies the world over. The difference for China is that it has experienced in thirty years what in most other nations has taken place over a century or more.
An arrest and a peek into history this week's must read ZGBriefs articles.
As the church in China continues to grow and mature, opportunities to connect and partner with churches in the West continue to grow as well. In many cases, these partnerships provide opportunities for churches in China to learn from the experiences of the churches in the West. This is a good thing.
China's current policy on religion is spelled out in Central Party Document no. 19, "The Basic Viewpoint and Policy on the Religious Question during Our Country's Socialist Period," issued in March of 1982.
To better understand the recent Sanjiang church demolition and what now appears to be a coordinated effort on the part of the government to curb visibility of Christianity in the public sphere, it is also helpful to briefly consider the relationship that Christianity has with China historically.
In this article, translated from the site jidutu123.com, the author looks at the challenges of doing urban missions in China. His main point is that doing urban missions, traditionally defined as ministering to the marginalized, is difficult in China because it assumes that Christianity is already part of the mainstream of culture, something that is not true in China. He then calls on the church to look for ways to engage with society rather than standing in opposition to it. Only by doing this will Christianity gain influence in Chinese society.
According to a recent article in The Economist, over the past 25 years half a million non-governmental organizations have registered in China. Another 1.5 million social entities have not registered and are effectively functioning illegally. Many others are registered as businesses.
If you work for a foreign NGO in China and have had the feeling that it has been under a bit more scrutiny lately, it seems that you are not imagining things.
While much is written about the explosive growth of the church among the Han (dominant ethnic group in China), less is written about the spread of Christianity among the minority peoples. The article translated below is about a county in Yunnan Province that is praying and raising money to build a church.
As far as I know China's NGO sector doesn't have a theme song, but if it did it would likely be the U2 hit single "With or Without You."
The articles that caught our eye in this week's ZGBriefs Newsletter fall within two large topicsChinese language and Confucianism.
Last month we highlighted a video from the Grace to the City Convention held in Hong Kong in March, which featured the participants singing the popular Getty hymn, "In Christ Alone."
Along with the massive urbanization that has forever reshaped the social and cultural landscape of China, the church in China has itself undergone a major transformation. From a largely rural, peasant-led movement in the 1980s the church is now very much an urban phenomenon.
The church demolitions continue in Zhejiang, as does the commentary trying to make sense of it all. Two articles this week contributed to the conversation.
"Brother Mark" played a key role in coordinating Walking with Leaders a consultation on mentoring, coaching, and spiritual formation in China hosted by ChinaSource last month in Hong Kong. Here are excerpts from a conversation we had with Brother Mark following the event.
Jeffrey Towson and Jonathan Woetzel, both professors at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management in Beijing, claim you can understand China in an hour. An excerpt from their new book on the McKinsey and Company website says getting a handle on China is a lot less about politics and a lot more about a handful of major economic and social trends that are shaping the country's future.
History in the making and forgotten history were in the news this week along with Chinese-style self-help and the extension of Chinese consumerism to the US.
Yesterday I highlighted some of the key points of the first of two panel discussions hosted by the Brookings Institute last week. The specific topic of that panel was the political and social status of Christianity in China.
Is Christianity transforming Chinese society? The Brookings Institute China Center recently hosted two panel discussions exploring that question.
The 2006 China Church Leadership Study, conducted jointly by ChinaSource and Geneva Global Research, identified seven types of Christian leaders in China. While three of these are in traditional church roles at various levels, the other four function largely outside the bounds of the local church and represent the growing role of Christians in China's larger society.
There was really only ONE story out of China this week, namely the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Incident. We could have devoted the entirety of ZGBriefs to the marking of that event, but we narrowed it down to a handful. Two of those articles are highlighted here. In addition, we couldn't pass up two articles about the hazards for foreigners who live and work in China.
The Mainland site Gospel Times recently published an article about the poor living conditions of preachers in the countryside. The article contains stories and photos of preachers in three different counties in southwest China. Below is a translation of one of those stories. The article is set within the context of the Sanjiang Church, an unusually expensive and ornate church in Wenzhou that was demolished last month.
I have been involved actively in China ministry since 1996. I often tell people that those years have been some of the most exciting times for China, her government and her church. Just as I was actively getting involved, the Chinese government was beginning to wrestle with what place people of faith could have in Chinese society. It seems clear that they are still wrestling with that question today!
Urbanization has irreversibly changed the landscape of Chinademographically, socially, geographically, and economically.
Kudos to Ian Johnson for getting his hands on an official document that helps explain the Sanjiang Church Demolition Incident. In what is arguably the most comprehensive reporting on the incident, he writes in The New York Times that "an internal government document reviewed by The New York Times makes it clear the demolitions are part of a strategy to reduce Christianity's public profile."
These are the topics that caught our attention this week pork fat, bound feet, and a Miao festival.
ChinaSource is looking for a part-time (8-10 hours/week) research assistant/translator for our Chinese Church Voices project. The ideal candidate is someone who is familiar with the landscape of Chinese Christian websites and social media, and has the ability to translate content from these platforms into English.
In March of this year, more than 1500 pastors and church leaders from around China gathered at Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Hong Kong for a conference called Grace to the City Convention. The keynote speaker was Dr. Timothy Keller, of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City who, with the assistance of a phenomenal interpreter, spoke on the themes of grace, contextualization, integration, and movement. In addition, the participants heard four pastors from four different areas of China give their perspectives on these themes. A team of musicians from Harbin led the worship.
In our previous post, "How to Fail at Philanthropy in China," we shared some insights from Clare Pearson of Charitarian Magazine in Beijing, based on her experience with corporate donors in China. Clare presented these last month at Philanthropy and China: A Time of Promise, a conference sponsored by the International Association of Advisors in Philanthropy (AiP).
Two of our favorite stories this week are about those on the margins of Chinese societythe poor who struggle to care for sick babies, and the disabled who are shut out of the educational system. The third article is an interesting look at how a the propaganda office in a neighborhood in Qingdao is trying to tackle the problem of "evil cults."
Is there religious freedom in China? The answer, of course, depends on the meaning of the term "religious freedom"
At a recent conference on China hosted by the International Association of Advisors in Philanthropy, Clare Pearson of Charitarian Magazine in Beijing offered some helpful tips.
Christianity in rural China is heavily influenced by concepts of Chinese folk religion and functions in many ways like a folk religion. This is due to the influence of traditional religious concepts and the limited education among most rural people. Folk concepts observed in rural Christianity include predilection for the mysterious including evidence of supernatural power, obsession with objects (the evil of unspiritual objects as well as the benefit of spiritual objects like pictures of Jesus or crosses), an intuitive desire for ritual to express one's faith and other aspects to be discussed below.
Why China's most privileged youth generation ever is still looking for more.
It's hard to learn a skill if you've never seen an experienced person do it.Instructions are great but watching a video on Youtube is better. Better yet, however, is having an experienced person—a mentor—walk alongside you, make suggestions, and give good feedback as you learn. If that is true of simpler tasks like pruning roses or learning tai chi, it is certainly true for learning the far more complex skills and attitudes needed in godly, fruitful church leaders.
Geographic and cultural divides and differences understanding them and bridging them were common themes this week.
It's been awhile since a new book has found it's way onto my "must read" list, but I suspect that a new one Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos is going to end up there.
This is a picture of the skyline of Pudong, the glitzy business district of Shanghai. For a time, that tall building with the hole in the top was actually the world's tallest building. It was soon beat out by the Burj in Dubai, and, as you can see, by the new building going up right beside it.
Statistics released by a Beijing think tank in January reveal that emigration from China is at its highest level ever, with 9.34 million leaving the Mainland in 2013. The "immigration deficit," or difference between those immigrating to China and those leaving, has risen 129 percent since 1990, from 3.71 million to 8.5 million. China is the world's fourth largest country for emigration, coming behind, India, Mexico, and Russia.
The website Xuanjiao Zhongguo (Missions China) recently ran a post written by a university student in China, sharing his/her reflections on faith in modern China.
If there were a theme to the three articles that we have chosen this week, it would be information.
As with most questions of a linguistic nature, the answer is a bit complicated because in English the term "church" can refer to either a gathering of believers or a building where those believers gather. In other words, we can use the term "church" to call any and all gatherings of believers, regardless of the existence of a building. Generally speaking, we can infer from the context what is being discussed.
The people of China have a history of being ambivalent toward knowledge and technology imported from the West. The ti-yong debates of the late-19th and early- 20th centuries highlighted their desire to enjoy the practical benefits (yong) of Western learning while maintaining the essence (ti) of Chinese culture. The rush toward Westernization that seemed to characterize the 1980s was subsequently replaced by the "China Can Say No" spirit of the 1990s. With China's rise in this century there is a new confidence in China's ability to chart its own unique course.
I'm a documentary lover; given a choice between watching a movie, a TV program (drama or comedy), or a documentary, I will almost always choose the documentary.
According to China Aid Association's 2013 Persecution Report, a total of 7,424 Christians were persecuted in China last year. This is not an insignificant number; 7,424 believers facing persecution is 7,424 too many. However, it is worth looking at this number a bit closer in order to put it into perspective.
In the week since the Sanjiang Church was demolished, netizens in China (both Christian and non-Christian) have taken to social media to comment on the incident.
As far as most of our readers go, probably the biggest story out of China this week was the demolition of the Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou.
You're daughter isn't wearing enough let me feel her hands. They're ice cold. Shame on you!
It's really not good to exercise early in the morning. The air is bad then.
You shouldn't throw your children up in the air like that. It's bad for their brain development.
On Saturday night, April 26, 2014, Brent Fulton and I gave a talk at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, titled "The Chinese Church and the Global Body of Christ."
In his work report at last month's annual meeting of the National People's Congress, Premier Li Keqiang, citing the growing toll which China's environmental crisis is taking on the economy, pledged to "declare war" on pollution.
As of this morning (Monday, April 28) there are wild rumors floating around regarding the situation at the Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou, but what is not in dispute is that the church is, in fact, being demolished.
In response to the situation at the Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou, a Chinese believer posted an open letter to Christians world-wide to pray for the Church in China.
Moving to China is both a great adventure and a daunting task. Here are ten ways you can prepare yourself, your family, and those who care about you.
Late last week The Telegraph published a story about the rise of Christianity in China under the attention-grabbing headline "China on course to become 'world's most Christian nation' within 15 years."
China today has been variously described as an emerging superpower, an economic miracle, a totalitarian regime, a corrupt kleptocracy, a regional hegemon, a bellwether of the future, and a victim of its past. Each of these narratives contains a kernel of truth, yet none by itself begins to do justice to the complexities of China.
Many people in the West are familiar with the Back to Jerusalem Movement, which refers to a movement of Chinese Christians to take the gospel to Central Asia, and then "back to Jerusalem."
Fewer people, perhaps, are aware of the fact that this movement, or vision, is not something new; it really began in the 1940's when God called a group of Chinese believers to take the Gospel to Northwest China (Xinjiang) and Central Asia. They formed a team called the "Preach Everywhere Gospel Band," and fanned out across Xinjiang.
It can be one of life's greatest challenges and blessings.
Whether it is for a company, business or mission team, the decision to move to China can be one of the most rewarding of a lifetime.
Our favorite stories this week cover the gamut searching for Hui identity in Taiwan; the life of "Taobao Girls" in Beijing; the June 4 crack-down in Chengdu; and a trailer for an upcoming documentary about a Tibetan woman living in Beijing. China is nothing, if not complex!
Eastern Lightning is a Chinese cult that proclaims that Christ has already returned as a Chinese woman. The cult started in Henan Province in the early 1990s and reportedly has one million followers in mainland China.1
One thing that I have noticed over the past couple of years is the growing influence of Calvinism among Chinese house church Christians. At a conference I attended in Germany last year, one of the speakers even listed it as a major challenge facing the church in China.
As the news of the battle for Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou began to break over the last week and I read the accounts, I was reminded again why fully understanding Christianity in China from the West is so hard.
Last week, word started circulating in the western press of a church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province that was surrounded by parishioners protecting it from a demolition crew.
In a recent interview in the ChinaSource Quarterly, Purdue professor Yang Fenggang is quoted as saying that "the Chinese Christian church has become an institutional base for passing on transformed Confucian values to younger generations." Dr. Yang, a sociologist and Director of the Center on Religion and Society at Purdue University, does not necessarily see Confucianism and Christianity as being in competition with one another. Rather, he encourages Christians to seek common ground where possible.
On April 4, the western press began reporting on a church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province that was surrounded by thousands of parishioners who were blocking a crew sent to demolish the church. As reported, local officials had initially ordered that the cross be removed from the church, and later said the church was built illegally and had ordered its destruction. The story was a hot topic both inside and outside of China, and has come to be known as The Sanjiang Church Incident.
Schools, nostalgia, and explaining the unexplainable these are the subjects of our top picks in ZGBriefs this week.
A compilation of important news from around China, via online published sources.
On April 7, the online magazine Tea Leaf Nation (one of my favorites) published an article titled Infographic: Jesus More Popular Than Mao on China's Twitter.
Love her or hate her, Empress Dowager Cixi does not leave us with the option of just letting her drift off into historical obscurity. Jung Chang's (author of Wild Swans) recently published Express Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China is destined to become a must read for China hands.
An interview with Dr. Fenggang Yang about a new exchange program at Purdue University.
The following eschatological scheme is what I have pieced together from scattered statements in Eastern Lightning writings. It does not seem altogether consistent, and it may not reflect the common understanding among the cult's rank and file.
The orthodox doctrine of the Trinity (三位一体) is that there is one God (一神) in three persons (三个位个).
The Spring 2014 issue of ChinaSource Quarterly takes up the topic of Confucianism's resurgence in China and its implications for the church. Certainly not a new topic, the relationship between China's dominant worldview and the Christian gospel has been a perennial subject of discussion since at least the days of Matteo Ricci. Successive generations of Christians in China have asked the pertinent questions in different ways, some choosing to find accommodation between the two, while others find them to be mutually exclusive.
Christians from a church in Shanghai minister to leukemia patients.
A brief discussion of the origins and evolution of the Eastern Lightning cult, an introduction
Tomorrow (April 5) is "Tomb-Sweeping Day," a festival to honor the ancestors by tending their graves. There were two articles about this that caught our attention this week.
Section 1 of Where Did Eastern Lighting Come From?, A brief discussion of the origins and evolution of the Eastern Lightning cult
Adding to my recent list of Ten Books on Christianity, I'd like to also commend the three volumes of Salt and Light: Lives of Faith that Shaped Modern China, by Carol Lee Hamrin and Stacey Bieler.
Section 2 of Where Did Eastern Lightning Come From?, A brief discussion of the origins and evolution of the Eastern Lightning cult
This is my third blog reflecting back on six days I spent in China recently with Brent Fulton where we met with pastors, seminary leaders and academics in Shanghai and Beijing. I shared in the first blog about my amazement at the growth of the church and the window that seems to be opening for the gospel, and in my second I raised concerns about the environmental disaster that is overtaking China and the key role of the church in calling people to care for God's creation.
A house church in Beijing has a special time of prayer for Kazakhstan.
Last week I had two meetings in as many days regarding two proposed leadership training efforts aimed at Christians in China. Both were well thought through and grew out of decades of China experience.
It's an interesting question, and, as the saying goes, "it depends on what the meaning of the word 'atheist' is."
Two articles about religion, a missing jetliner, and eye-popping gifs of China's urbanization; these are our top picks this week.
This is my second blog reflecting back on six days I spent in China recently with Brent Fulton where we met with pastors, seminary leaders and academics in Shanghai and Beijing. I shared in the first blog about my amazement at the growth of the church and the window that seems to be opening for the gospel.
In 1997 when China regained sovereignty over Hong Kong and the people of Hong Kong were grappling with what it meant to be Chinese of China, conversations often referred to Asian values. For over a hundred years, Hong Kong had been ruled and influenced by Western values, some referred to them as Christian values. Now that Hong Kong was no longer part of the United Kingdom, the question was how do the people of Hong Kong identify themselves? What values do they hold? Frequently the answer involved articulating Asian values in some way. Often Buddhism was highlighted; other times Confucianism was mentioned as a source for moral guidance.
A Chinese Christian blogger offers ten reasons for being a Christian.
Scrolling down through ZGBriefs this week provides another glimpse of the complexity of China today.
A compilation of this week's news from China, from online published sources.
Items that require your intercession.
I am back from six days in China where I traveled with Brent Fulton and met with pastors, seminary leaders and academics in Shanghai and Beijing. I preached twice at Beijing International Christian Fellowship and we also held our ChinaSource Board meeting in Beijing. It was a busy and fulfilling week. I have been asked to share a few highlights and reflections of my time.
A Chinese Christian blogger explores the similarities and differences between the Chinese concept of filial piety and the Biblical teaching to honor one's parents.
A few years ago, I put together a China reading list that I titled My Literary Journey to Being a Sinophile for my personal blog in which I highlighted books that have shaped my understanding and love for China over the past thirty years. The book topics run the gamut from history to contemporary society to the condition of the church. The book Safely Home (2003) by Randy Alcorn is not on the list.
Meetings (and things that happened alongside those meetings) and Chinese people in the US caught our interest this week.
Chinese society today has turned fairly religious with Protestant Christianity and Confucianism experiencing the most growth in recent decades. As these two traditions interact more and more, the tension and rivalry between them intensifies. Dr. Yao looks at the roles that each plays in today's China along with the place of the so-called New Confucian Movement. As the current Confucian revival represents an attempt to regain Confucian dominance in Chinese society, what is the response of Christianity?
Professor Fenggang Yang provides insightful answers to questions about Confucianism. His comments address topics such as the groups of people among whom Confucianism is growing, the influence of New Confucianists from overseas on Chinese society and thought, and concrete signs that Confucianism is growing in China.
Chang provides a Christian understanding of the nature of Confucianism, its classics and the basic teachings of Confucius. This is followed by a critique of Confucianism from a biblical standpoint using classical theological categories (God, creation, man, sin and salvation and eschatology) to frame his comments. He also discusses a key component of traditional Confucianism, ancestor worship.
First, the author takes his readers on a walk through a Chinese megacity to help us "see" how Confucianism is influencing modern Chinese society; then he goes on to discuss some of its influences in key areas of Chinese culture. Is Confucianism today the same as it was historically? What is its relationship with politics? What does it have to do with the Chinese identity? The article discusses these and other relevant questions.
The revival of Confucianism in China comes from a variety of sources including scholars resident in mainland China, Taiwan and overseas. He Tianyi provides a brief introduction to some of these. They include scholars working to educate in the Confucian tradition, doing research on Confucianism, lecturing to spread traditional culture into the popular mainstream and focusing on the implementation of the Confucian view of life in the presence of modern materialism. He introduces us to one who specialize in the history of Western philosophy, cultural philosophy and Neo-Confucianism and to another who is working to promote greater mutual understanding between intellectuals in China and the West.
Confucius, the Buddha, and Christ by Ralph R. Covell
Confronting Confucian Understandings of the Christian Doctrine of Salvation: A Systematic Theological Analysis of the Basic Problems in the Confucian-Christian Dialogue by Paulos Huang
Reviewed by G. Wright Doyle
Covell traces the history of the gospel in China from the Nestorians up to about 1980 and ways in which foreign missionaries, and then Chinese Christians, tried to express the gospel in terms which were, or were not, readily accessible to the people they hoped to reach. Huang's aim is to explain how different types of Confucianists have understood, and responded to the Christian doctrine of salvation.
The guest editor's point of view.
An annotated bibliography for further reading on this topic.
Since I've been in China for 28 years,* and speak Chinese reasonably well, I am often asked two questions (by foreigners), neither of which have easy answers.
Many people are surprised to know that that there are numerous Christian books that have been published in China and as a result can be legally sold and distributed within China. This is something that has been going on for the past ten years.
Violence was very much in China-related media this week as people inside and outside of China sought to come to grips with the brutal attack that took place in the Kunming train station on March 1. A new date, 3-01 has entered our terrorism vocabulary.
Filial piety has long been part and parcel of Chinese culture.
Chinese Christians offer their thoughts on the Kunming knife massacre.
We were hoping for 100 new subscribers and gained 186!
On Saturday, there was a knife attack at the Kunming train station. When it was over, 29 people were dead and hundreds injured. Here's how the Los Angeles Times reported the scene:
The explosion of China's online Christian community has not only provided believers with a new platform for expressing their faith, it is also helping to meet practical needs within the Christian community. Recently Chinese Church Voices featured an article from the online Christian newspaper Gospel Times about Christian dating websites in China.
My top picks this week center on architecture, education, and the plight of the disabled in China.
A compilation of news from China this week, from around the Web.
When I began learning Chinese at age twenty-one, I was encouraged to discover that every character has a "radical", a component which communicates meaning. Characters containing the "three dots", for example, denote something to do with water. River and lake , wash and rinse , and sweat and tears all contain the water radical on the left.
The most successful short track speed skating coach in the world is Li Yan. She is also a Christian. The Christian Times reports on the importance of faith in her life.
James Palmer, a Beijing-based journalist has penned an excellent, yet disturbing, piece about the disabled in China, titled "Crippling Injustice." "Disabled people in modern China," he writes, "are still stigmatised, marginalised and abused." "What hope is there for reform?"
Chinese language learning opportunities have mushroomed in recent decades. For those seeking to work specifically with the church in China, however it is still not easy to find a program that covers both the requisite theological vocabulary and is accessible to non-native speakers.
People often ask me for recommendations of books to read about Christianity and the church in China. There are a lot of books out there; some better than others.
There were a number of articles in this week's ZGBriefs that caught my attention. The first two are about romance and weddings in China. The third one is about government efforts to save abandoned babies by providing "baby hatches" in various cities. The fourth is for fun video highlights of a motorcycle ride around China.
In today's blog, Dr. Timothy Conkling discusses the influence of PRC religious policy on the church in China.
A look at 7 dating sites for Christians in China.
Coming off another Great Wall visit, I am again pondering the paradox of the wall a paradox which is true of both the ancient one as well as the more recently constructed one.
Two weeks ago I had the chance to speak to a group of students and professors at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul (MN) about the church in China.
February 14 marks the official end of the two-week holiday season in China known as Spring Festival, which coincides with the first 15 days of the lunar New Year. According to the Chinese zodiac, the year that began two weeks ago is the Year of the Horse.
There were a lot of great articles in this weeks' ZGBriefs, but the ones that particularly caught my eye were on the topics of human rights and law, ethnic tensions, and American-style Chinese food.
In a recent post on Chinese Church Voices, a college professor who is a Christian contrasted his own life in China with that experienced by his father. His portrait of these two generations finds interesting parallels in the leadership of China's church.
At the Desiring God Conference for Pastors in Minneapolis last week, conference host John Piper spoke on the life of Hudson Taylor in a message titled, "The Ministry of Hudson Taylor as Life in Christ."
"That is messed up!"
"That is just plain WRONG."
Our top picks this week all touch on some of the social issues that China is dealing with today: happiness, disappearing traditional culture, and the rise of volunteerism.
A Chinese Christian reflects on his father's and his own youth, and looks ahead to the future of his young son.
Compilation of important news from China this week, from around the Web.
I recently came across a piece on PRI's "Here and Now" program about how the Tiananmen Square incident became a "watershed" for conversions to Christianity.
Today begins a month-long subscription drive to get more people reading the ChinaSource Blog.
It is common journalistic shorthand to attribute any policies, economic action, or military behavior that appears to emanate from Chinese officialdom to "China."
Our top picks this week are all over the map, so to speak, covering religion, politics, and the perils of language learning!
Compilation of important news from around China, from around the Web.
China's "official" churches (those operating under the auspices of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement) are fairly often associated with terms such as "restrictive," "government-sanctioned," or even "Communist-controlled." Granted, one does not have to look too far within China's religious bureaucracy and its associated policies and practices to find evidence that would justify such notions. Unfortunately, however, the perception of the official church which these labels create tends to mask much of what is actually happening on the ground in TSPM-affiliated churches.
Let's call it "video week" at ZGB because my top picks this week are all video reports on some fairly pressing contemporary social issues, each of them ripples of China's one-child policy.
For the Winter Issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly, which focused on the issue of religious policies in China and the relationship between the church and the state, ChinaSource conducted an interview with a Three-Self pastor in China. Below is the article/interview in its entirety.
A compilation of this week's news stories from around China, from published online sources.
I'm already two weeks into my current episode of jet lag, so I know there is no excuse. However, I still find myself waking up in the morning and wondering, "What day is this anyway?"
Thirty years ago, I set off for what I thought would be a one-year teaching stint in China. Twenty-eight years later, I moved back to the States. Either I'm really bad at math or that was one very long year.
An article that appeared last month in China's official press raises interesting questions about how the church in China is viewed by both the Chinese state and society.
These three articles caught my attention while compiling ZGBriefs this week.
Over the years many foreign faith-based entities have made what might best be described as a "survey trip" to China. The purpose is ostensibly to understand what is happening on the ground and to discern whether, and how, their particular organization could begin a China work.
A compilation of the important news from China this week, from online published sources.
One of the questions frequently asked about China concerns the degree to which Christians in China face persecution, the default assumption being that China has a specific policy of repressing Christianity.
The church in China is often viewed through two prevailing and related paradigms. The "persecuted church" paradigm positions the church and the Chinese government in perpetual opposition to one another, while the "Christian China" paradigm sees Christianity as bringing a new moral order to China and foresees the day when the church will usher in political change.
This article looks at a few key events in the life of Victor Plymire, a pioneer missionary to Tibet in the early 20th century. My prayer is that this brief glimpse into his life will enlarge your view of God so that your faith would be strengthened and you might pursue God with renewed determination. Additionally, I hope that you would see the tremendous value of history and biography for the Christian life and the Church universal.
This week's must-read stories from the editor of ZGBriefs
The new year is upon us, and McKinsey China has come out with a new set of predictions for 2014, which you can read here. A key theme running through these predictions is a significantly changing labor market, particularly as a result of advances in technology and the way it is being utilized both in the workplace and by consumers.
A compilation of important news from China this week, from online published sources.
I recently ran across a post called "Pagan Practice in China's Shanxi Province," which included some intriguing photos of traditional customs.
Just because a Chinese Christian is in trouble doesn't mean they're in trouble just because they're a Christian. Their Christianity may have something to do with it, or it may have almost nothing to do with. China being as it is, the "whys" are usually a little more complicated and a lot more pragmatic. This is not the Mao Era.
The mainland think-tank Pacific Institute for Social Sciences recently translated an article by Professor Liu Peng, titled Three Issues Concerning Chinese House Churches. This article provides and excellent overview of the history and current situation for house churches in China.
It dawned on me recently that no one has commented on a recent phenomenon: famous Chinese movie directors injecting Christian and related religious elements into contemporary Chinese movies.
Three stories caught our eye this week, two serious, and one that will make you want to don all of your winter clothes, grab your camera, and head to Harbin, China.
Mention the church in China and the conversation invariably turns toward China's religious policy, the underlying assumption being that the Chinese government is bent on suppressing Christianity. In the most recent issue of ChinaSource Quarterly we take a closer look at this question. As with most things in China, both the stated policy and the observable reality belie a complexity that makes it extremely difficult to generalize about the relationship between church and state in China.
A compilation of this week's news items, gathered from published online sources.