As a new urban generation arises, China’s churches are experiencing an “urban urgency” to carry out the Great Commission in its global cities. They are wrestling with some of the same questions Christians in other countries are also facing: What does the city mean for the church? What does urbanization bring? How do churches understand their urban environment? Are churches ready to face the needs and challenges of urban life? Are there new ways to carry out the Great Commission in urban centers? With these questions in mind, this issue of ChinaSource Quarterly seeks to focus on the theology and practice of urban ministries in China.
An urban sociologist by training, Mary Ma integrates analysis of urban living with theological discussion to formulate a contextualized urban theology for ministry. She stresses that urban Christians have to understand the Bible and their urban setting in order to live as Christ’s disciples.
From his extensive ministry experience in a Chinese urban center, James He summarizes three major changes in urban churches during the past two decades. His insights help ministry workers learn about the past and present states of urban churches in order to move forward in their ministries.
Jerry An enthusiastically invites ministry workers to consider creative ways to evangelize and disciple, especially through innovative ways of using new media, such as WeChat platforms. While encouraging them to use technology to facilitate evangelism and Christian fellowship, An also reminds urban Christians of its temptations.
The next two articles focus on practices of Christian churches in urban contexts. Pastor Cui describes how his charismatic church re-organized in metropolitan Shanghai. They reflect on their theology and programs to fill the many needs in a competitive and broken environment. Pastor Sun is leading a church in a city which is made up of rural migrant workers—the invisible and deprived labor force of an urban economy. Their socio-economic status makes them a distinct subgroup of urban churches. This interview with Pastor Sun informs readers of rural migrant believers’ church life in the city.
Li Jin’s book review on China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot Be Hidden by Brent Fulton brings the discussion back full circle by looking at the changing trends of urban ministry which were set out at the beginning. In this issue’s Resource Corner, we recommend an older documentary on urban consumerism to you. We find it aptly conveys an important part of urban life in China that calls for Christians’ witness.
We trust this issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, “Christian Living in the City” will help facilitate meaningful discussions of urban ministry in China.
Image credit: Keyboard by Ash Kyd via Flickr.
Mary Li Ma (MA Li) holds a PhD in sociology from Cornell University. Currently a research fellow at the Henry Institute of Christianity and Public Life at Calvin College, she and her husband LI Jin have coauthored articles, book chapters, and are the authors of Surviving the State, Remaking the Church:... View Full Bio
LI Jin is a PhD student at Calvin Theological Seminary. Prior to seminary he was a PhD candidate in economic history at a Shanghai university. He writes on Christian thought for both public and Christian media outlets in mainland China and Hong Kong. He is a columnist on social and economic issues for China’s largest financial... View Full Bio