Mission China 2030 (MC 2030) debuted in September of 2015 in Hong Kong with its first international convention. The movement was initiated by urban Chinese house church leaders, primarily from Beijing and Shanghai, such as Ezra Jin from Beijing Zion Church, Daniel Li from Beijing Great Commission Church, and Quan Cui from Shanghai All Nations Church.1
MC 2030 and Urban Revival During 2000 to 2018
MC 2030 had strong momentum at the beginning and mobilized many mainland Chinese house churches to participate. However, the movement declined significantly after the government shut down the Beijing Zion Church which had played a leading role in the movement. Since the movement has not been widely supported by overseas Chinese churches, its lasting impact and influence have been negligible.
I met with the three major leaders of MC 2030 from 2012 to 2019. Ezra Jin and Daniel Li studied at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and they both embraced evangelical study of the Bible and charismatic ministerial practices. Quan Cui, a charismatic church leader, was called by God to Shanghai in 1999 to plant churches. When SARS hit the east coast of China in 2003, church attendance at Chinese churches increased rapidly in the cities. Quan Cui founded All Nations Church in Shanghai, and the church experienced a great revival in 2008 through weekly prayer meetings where the people worshiped the Lord freely with speaking in tongues and other spiritual gifts for several hours without stopping. When the Holy Spirit touched the congregation, repentance and manifestations occurred. The whole church was overwhelmed by a great transformation, and it increased from 200 to 2000 people during the next two years.
From 2011 to 2012, the church faced significant persecution due to the large size of its congregation. When the government came to tear the building down, revival fire decreased, and the church lost many members. When I met Quan Cui in 2013, he was still very excited about building numerous cell churches in Shanghai to form a great network. However, when I met him again in 2019, he seemed exhausted by some developing issues which meant that the church could not go back to the rapid growth stage of the previous period. Quan Cui noted that now he focuses on developing high quality small churches without being bothered by their numbers, calling these seedbed churches.
Ezra Jin was invited to minister to a small church composed of Chinese Koreans in Beijing in 2007. This church grew quickly and became the largest house church in Beijing with hundreds of members. It was named Zion Church. This church’s quick growth was the result of the strong work of the Spirit among intellectuals in Beijing which impacted them in a variety of ways.
Zion Church tried to balance an emphasis on evangelical theology with charismatic practice, so the church’s stance regarding speaking in tongues, prophecy, and other spiritual practices was very positive. When I taught among them in 2017, some members were using healing and deliverance as effective ways to pray for people. From the pulpit, Zion Church was evangelical in its interpretation of the Word of God, and in its ministry practice it was open to charismatic gifts. Once again, the church’s revival incurred persecution. Toward the end of 2018, Zion Church, because of tremendous pressure from the government, was forced to give up the lease on the building it was using for its meetings. Later, the church split into small groups and encouraged the members to do “walking worship.”
Since it became difficult for churches to utilize public spaces, many house churches were forced to rethink their strategies and explore new ways of being the church. In this new context, the pursuit of God’s powerful presence became the focus of these small evangelical churches. Many house churches were comfortable with practices associated with healing and deliverance, and they believed in the power of charismatic prayer. In recent years, many evangelical churches, and some Catholic churches, have become passionate about studying divine healing through programs offered by various international ministry schools. These schools usually teach perspectives on divine healing popular in charismatic circles in the West.
Additionally, many house churches embrace the five-fold ministry concept derived from Ephesians 4:11 and believe apostolic and prophetic ministries are still relevant for the contemporary church.2 These groups refuse to accept cessationism and insist that five-fold ministry is needed for the church to be healthy and function like the first-century churches described in the New Testament. These groups also tend to discard supersessionism and believe that many Jewish people will come to faith in Jesus after the Gentiles who are “saved” reaches its divinely appointed number (Romans 11:25–26).3
Prominent Spirit-Empowered Ecclesiastic Signs
I have participated in establishing house churches in China since 2001, and from my observation, signs of spiritual revival usually include passionate preaching, evangelism, healing, deliverance, and speaking in tongues. When a house church has been established for one or two years, there will often be a turning point for the church to grow with spiritual power if the church receives baptism in the Holy Spirit. After planting churches in several cities of China, I have observed a similar pattern. When people earnestly pray for healing and deliverance, miracles will take place. When people repent and confess their sins, they will feel the bondage fall and experience a heartfelt sense of joy.
When a believer’s spiritual eyes are opened to see visions and they begin to speak in tongues, their hearts will experience a transformation that enables them to break through intellectual barriers or reservations. Often, when I see people speak in tongues and receive healing from the Holy Spirit, they are filled with joy and thanksgiving. Then, their lives manifest a great change with a strong desire to seek the Lord and grow in the Spirit. This charismatic breakthrough creates good soil in people’s hearts so that the Word of God can multiply quickly after being sown into it.
Another charismatic sign is the revival of the connection with our Jewish roots. In recent years, traveling to Jerusalem for conferences and tourism has become popular among Chinese churches generally. Many charismatic Christians go to Jerusalem and claim to receive special visions or hear God’s voice in the Holy Land. Also, many Chinese churches, especially those which emphasize charismatic gifts, are beginning to keep Old Testament festivals and weekly sabbaths believing that this connection with our Jewish roots is pleasing to God and walking in his path for renewal.
Many Chinese Christians also attend various charismatic conferences held in Hong Kong, Taiwan, or cities in China. They use social chatting tools to forward prophetic messages translated from foreign prophetic centers to their friends. Social media has become a powerful tool for Chinese believers to follow charismatic trends and prophetic emphases.
From 2018 to 2019, I began to direct the planting of prayer houses in several cities of China, and finally, there were three prayer houses established in three different cities of China. When I planted a Chinese House of Prayer (CHOP), I aimed for equipping intercessors, reviving passion for God, and engaging in spiritual warfare for city transformation by making CHOP the mission temple of God. In CHOP, Chinese intercessors met together and prayed from morning to evening every day. The prayer was intertwined with worship, speaking in tongues, vision-sharing, prophecy, engaging in spiritual warfare, and teaching. Many of the participants claimed to receive fresh anointing and vision from God, and they were filled with hope to break through their spiritual bondage and win spiritual battles in their lives. However, when so many good signs occurred in these CHOP meetings, spiritual opposition also came with the appearance of local authorities checking on what was taking place in the apartment leased by CHOP.
Finally, a CHOP on the east coast of China was closed at the end of 2019 due to severe persecution. Nevertheless, it left a good legacy for the local churches, and many believers’ eyes were opened to see the real presence of God and dedicate their lives to follow him. Later, the fire from this closed CHOP was transferred from the east coast to the northern part of China which became a mini-Pentecostal missionary movement. This CHOP represents a Pentecostal outpouring that testifies to the fact that revival and persecution are usually inextricably related. They go hand in hand, one encouraging the other. Ultimately, they both come from the spiritual realm when lives are transformed in the Spirit-empowered community.
Conclusion: Eschatology and Temple Community
Many house churches earnestly seek spiritual gifts to enable the ministry of the church. These churches believe China is the primary nation God will use to reach Muslims and Jews around the globe so that the great commission can reach its finish line, and Christ’s millennial kingdom will be established after the seven years of terrible tribulation (Daniel 9:27). These Chinese Christians generally hold firmly to a premillennial eschatology and believe a third temple will be established in Jerusalem. They also foresee that artificial intelligence technology will be used by the anti-Christ to control the world (Revelation 13:18) and then the calamity of seven years will sweep over the world after the rapture of God’s chosen.4
The house churches proudly proclaim that they are the true temple of God because they worship him with a true heart. They believe that the temple community is the authentic dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, and that Chinese churches will carry the gospel of Jesus to all nations before Christ’s parousia. These Chinese Christians emphasize that the temple community should be filled with spiritual power and love.
Moreover, I believe that one essential characteristic of a revival movement, if it is to keep moving forward, is the sustenance and development of the Spirit-filled community. This could be a five-fold ministry church, a twenty-four-hour prayer house, or an intercessional fellowship that engages in spiritual warfare. This Spirit-filled community needs to embody several features.
- First, it will embrace significant hours of prayer and worship daily in order to birth a strong spiritual anointing and atmosphere.
- Second, the community members will be comfortable with participating in healing, deliverance, and spiritual warfare.
- Third, lukewarm Christians will repent and receive revival (the second blessing or Spirit baptism, according to some Pentecostal scholars) which will open their spiritual eyes.
- Fourth, when the anointing of the Spirit, angelic cooperation, the teaching of biblical truth, and holy relationships coalesce, lives will be transformed and the faith of many will increase rapidly.
- Fifth, prophetic vision, evangelism, and spiritual warfare will be released into the community so that the unity and love of the community will be tested.
Once the community can survive the spiritual trials with strong love and unity, they can be sent out by the Holy Spirit for mission and evangelism in other areas (Acts 13:1-3).
In conclusion, Spirit-empowered mission in China has taken many different forms and the resulting spiritual communities are now reproducing rapidly. Many Chinese will be reborn with a new knowledge of God through the new wineskins of these spiritual temple communities. I predict a large, Spirit-empowered missionary movement from China will be birthed from these supernatural, incubational communities, and it will sweep across the nations with signs and wonders in the coming decades.
- 宣教中国2030」第一届宣教大会, “Mission China 2030: The First Mission Conference,” Great Commission Journal 119 (2015), 20-22, http://www.globalmissiology.org/gcci/Chinese/b5_publications/GCB/2015/Dec/p20.pdf.
- The five-fold ministry concept refers to the belief that all five of the ministry functions described in Ephesians 4:11 (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher) are needed in and available to the church today.
- Supersessionism refers to the belief that the Old Testament promises to Israel are fulfilled in Christ and the church. Thus, the church, composed of both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Christ, rather than the Jewish people or the nation of Israel, are now the people of God.
- For more on eschatology see Li Jin, “Eschatology and China’s Churches,” ChinaSource Quarterly 17, no. 2 (2015), https://www.chinasource.org/resource-library/articles/eschatology-and-chinas-churches/