A year after China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, its effects can be felt throughout society. As contributors to this issue of ChinaSource have pointed out, WTO has sown the seeds of greater openness and prosperity, but it is also accentuating social inequality and exacerbating economic problems.
Both the positive and negative consequences of WTO bring new opportunities for service. No one can predict what these opportunities may look like in five or ten years. However, recent discussions among ministry leaders elicited a number of “best practices” in key areas that may serve as guidelines. Here are some highlights:
“Leaders make leaders.” Leadership training consists of more than curriculum and teachers; it must be combined with mentoring. Time should be spent listening to Chinese believers and identifying what a healthy leader should look like in the Chinese context. It is also important to identify leadership profiles appropriate for different phases of a church and to recognize which are suitable at a particular stage.
Witness and Discipleship.
Long-term relationships are key. Efforts should be made to plant seeds, not just “dump the grain.” Partnerships should be needs-driven, not resourcedriven. Practical help and training should lead ultimately to the self-sufficiency of the Chinese church. Certain conditions should be determined prior to entering into partnership to avoid creating dependency.
Serving among Intellectuals and Professionals.
Effort should be made to understand the changes in the church among urban professionals. Christians among Chinese intellectuals should be encouraged to write and publish their own literature within China. Casualties of social change should be embraced as opportunities to share God’s love. The emptiness in materialism should be explored and exposed within the Christian context.
Partnerships should be established with all sectors of the church. There is a need to come alongside Christians working in factories. Christian business people from outside China should be encouraged to help nurture believers in the business arena. Teaching English and building relationships through consultations provide opportunities for involvement. Relevant models in this sector need to be identified and replicated.
Good relationships at every level are vital. Professional excellence, high ethical standards, honesty, integrity and a desire to build trust should be exhibited by Christians serving in this sector. Proper research and preparation and a clear understanding of the needs in Chinese society are necessary for success. Language acquisition and cultural understanding should be stressed. Sustainability should be sought, with the aim of handing projects over to indigenous leaders. Local leaders should be put up front to encourage empowerment and affirm self-worth. Healthy boundaries for the use of funds should be established, with no more than 50 percent of a project’s budget coming from outside sources.
Image courtesy of Journal Entry (Joel Montes de Oca) by Chris Lott, on Flickr.
Brent Fulton is the founder of ChinaSource. Prior to assuming his current position, he served from 1995 to 2000 as the managing director of the Institute for Chinese Studies at Wheaton College. From 1987 to 1995 he served as founding US director of China Ministries International, and from 1985 to... View Full Bio