Supporting Article

Multiplying Healthy Churches in the Cities of China

It is estimated that by 2015 half of all China’s people will live in the cities. The far-reaching effects of urbanization include:

  • a swelling population of rural migrants that are ripe for the Gospel
  • accessibility to many unreached minority peoples as members of these groups move to the cities
  • the emergence of a strategically placed Christian movement among China’s young urban professionals.

The church’s center of gravity is shifting from the countryside to the cities, meaning that the strength and maturity of the urban church is crucial to the continued spread of the gospel throughout China and the impact of the church on Chinese society. Yet today the cities represent some of the most spiritually needy areas in all of China.

God is moving among his people, both inside and outside of China, to begin to address this challenge through the catalyzation of church planting movements. These efforts need to be continued and expanded. However, we must be careful not to place our focus upon quantitative growth alone. The qualitative question “What kind of churches are being planted?” must also be addressed.

While Christians from various backgrounds will answer that question differently in some respects, there are some matters that are clear enough that we should all agree upon them. While perhaps not a definitive statement of what the urban church in China should look like, we would suggest the following as a worthy goal as we focus on reaching the cities of China with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A suggested goal: the Body of Christ growing in every major city of China through the multiplication of Christian communities led by men and women who are:

  • Grounded in the Word of God—utilizing both indigenous and effectively contextualized outside resources to equip God’s people with the biblical understanding and practical skills they need for godly living and fruitful ministry.
  • Multiplying maturing disciples—in every sector of society.
  • Incarnational—in witness, functioning as salt and light by providing leadership in meeting family and social needs.
  • Transformational—speaking prophetically into, and working redemptively within political, social, and economic structures.
  • Missions-focused—identifying, reaching, and discipling unreached peoples in China, Asia, and the world.

Achieving this goal is beyond the reach of any one church or organization. Yet it is clear that God is already moving in the cities, raising up churches with these qualities, and the multiplication of such churches is possible as “the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph. 4:16)

Image credit: 40659-MW-dag100047 by neville mars via Flickr.
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Jim Nickel

Jim Nickel was vice president of ChinaSource from 2000 to 2004 and was involved in promoting work among the unreached Chinese peoples for many yearsView Full Bio