Resources by Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Senior Vice President of ChinaSource. She is the editor of ZGBriefs and Chinese Church Voices, as well as a regular contributor to ChinaSource publications.

Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and most recently, cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China.

She has previously taught Chinese at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul (MN), and is currently a guest instructor at Wheaton College and Taylor University (IN), teaching Chinese culture and communication.

Joann has a BA in social sciences from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul (MN), and an MA in teaching from the University of St. Thomas (MN).

She is the author of Survival Chinese Lessons, published by Dawson Media.

Her personal blog, Outside-In can be found at, where she writes on China and issues related to "living well where you don't belong."

You can find her on Twitter

Nov 4, 2016

10 Questions on Contextualization

by Joann Pittman

Earlier this week we posted a ChinaSource Conversations podcast in which I talked with Jackson Wu, author of Saving God’s Face and Sam Chan, author of Preaching as the Word of God about the issue of contextualization in gospel presentations. In the course of the conversation I asked them ten questions.

May 1

10 Things NOT to Do on a Short-term Trip to China

by Joann Pittman

Going to China this summer? Here are tips for preparing well for your trip. 

Sep 19, 2016

13 Questions on the Implementation of the Foreign NGO Law

by Joann Pittman

The website NGOs in China recently published a summary of a Q&A session between the European Chamber of Commerce and the Foreign NGO Management Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security. Seeking clarification on how the law will be implemented, the delegation from the European Chamber of Commerce posed 13 questions. 

Jun 8, 2015

14 Questions

by Joann Pittman

On June 4, 2015, ChinaSource President Brent Fulton was a guest on the Connecting Faith program of My Faith Radio in the Twin Cities. Host Neil Stavem spent the hour talking with Brent about modern China and some of the unique challenges and opportunities facing the country and the church in China 26 years after the crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

Nov 16, 2015

3 Questions: Compiler of the Prayer Calendar

“Intercessors for China”

by Joann Pittman

From the series 3 Questions

A ChinaSource "3 Questions" interview with the compiler of the Intercessors for China prayer calendar.

Oct 19, 2015

3 Questions: Dr. Fenggang Yang

by Joann Pittman

From the series 3 Questions

A ChinaSource "3 Questions" interview with Dr. Fenggang Yang, director of the Center on Religion and Chinse Society at Purdue University.

Dec 12, 2016

3 Questions: Hannah Lau

by Joann Pittman

From the series 3 Questions

A ChinaSource 3 Questions interview with Hannah Lau, a non-profit marketing consultant and the author of Wherever You Go: A Conversation about Life, Faith, and Courage

Jul 11, 2016

4 Books on the Chinese Communist Party

by Joann Pittman

There was a big birthday celebration in China earlier this month. July 1 marked the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. 

Jul 3, 2015

5 Books on Hudson Taylor

by Joann Pittman

June 25th marked the 150th  anniversary of Hudson Taylor’s call to take the gospel to China and the founding of the China Inland Mission (today’s OMF), an event that not only precipitated a wave of missionary activity to China, but also upended the traditional ways in which missionary work had been conducted.

Mar 30, 2016

5 Resources on Honor and Shame

by Joann Pittman

In many ways our worldview can be thought of as our operating system—the way in which we process and organize information and make sense of the world. For westerners, our worldview is built on legal frameworks such as guilt and innocence; however, most non-western cultures process the world based on honor and shame.

Oct 9, 2015

6 Questions about Mentoring in the Chinese Context

by Joann Pittman

"Mentoring in the Chinese Context" is this month's ChinaSource Converstations podcast.

Oct 26, 2015

8 Things to Know about Wang Mingdao

by Joann Pittman

A new blog in China called iWorship is giving voice to Wang Mingdao, one of the great evangelists and leaders of the Chinese church during the twentieth century. Last week, on our Chinese Church Voices blog, we posted a translation of one of their posts, called “Slow to Speak.” In it, Pastor Wang reminds us of the importance of using our words for God’s glory.

Aug 21

9 Language-Learning Resources Online

by Joann Pittman

From the series Learning Chinese

Today there are almost unlimited resources for learning Chinese, and many of them are available online for free. Herewith is my list of nine recommended online resources. 

Aug 31, 2015

9 Take-aways from a Conversation about Coaching in China

by Joann Pittman

From the series Walking with Leaders | Podcasts

Earlier this month, ChinaSource launched a new podcast titled ChinaSource Conversations. The aim of the podcast is to bring together those with Chinese expertise and experience to discuss timely topics impacting China’s church. We hope that it will be a useful resource for those serving in China.

Apr 8, 2014

A Brief Q & A with Dr. Fenggang Yang at Purdue

by Joann Pittman

An interview with Dr. Fenggang Yang about a new exchange program at Purdue University.

Sep 18

A Call for Photos

China through the Years

by Joann Pittman

From the series Looking Back

As part of our on-going commemoration of the 20th anniversary of ChinaSource, we want to collect photos documenting the changes that have taken place in China. Whether you lived and worked there or were just visiting, we’d love to include your photos. 

Aug 1, 2016

A Changing China

by Joann Pittman

It’s become an almost tiring cliché to say that China is changing. In the last century alone, the changes have been staggering.

Jan 25

A Collection of NGO Law Links

by Joann Pittman

Over the past few months there have been numerous articles and posts written about the new Foreign NGO Law. We have been trying to keep you updated on new developments through this blog and ZGBriefs, but we thought it would be helpful to compile the resources (so far) in one place.

Apr 18, 2016

Adoption Stories

by Joann Pittman

There were a couple of adoption stories out of China in the past few weeks that caught my eye. The first was an article in Christianity Today about the drop in global adoptions, as reported by the US State Department in their Annual Report on Intercountry Adoptions.

Oct 24, 2016

A Free Resource

"Gospel in Life"

by Joann Pittman

Our friends at the International Outreach department of The Gospel Coalition (TGC) are offering a free resource to those serving in China—Tim Keller’s Gospel in Life, in simplified Chinese. 

Feb 16, 2015

A Government Mouthpiece Reports on a Missionary Movement

by Joann Pittman

Over the past couple of months, we have published on Chinese Church Voices a number of posts about the growing awareness of the importance and practice of cross-cultural missions by Chinese churches. 

May 30, 2016

A Light that Cannot Be Hidden

by Joann Pittman

On May 21 ChinaSource President Brent Fulton spoke at Emmanuel English Church in Hong Kong. Drawing from his book China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot Be Hidden, Fulton talked about how the kingdom of God has spread in China, despite difficult circumstances. 

Nov 9, 2015

A Long and Glorious History

by Joann Pittman

If you’ve spent any amount of time in China, you have probably encountered the phrase “China has a long and glorious history.” In fact, you’ve probably encountered it so many times that you are tempted to roll your eyes when you hear it.

Oct 8, 2014

A Look at Religious Freedom in China

by Joann Pittman

On October 1, the Cornerstone Blog of The Religious Freedom Project at The Berkeley Center published two helpful posts on religious liberty in China.

Sep 30, 2016

A National Day Quiz

How Much Do You Know about the Founding of the PRC?

by Joann Pittman

October 1 is National Day in China; this year marks the 68th  anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. While it used to be a day marked with military parades and revolutionary fervor, now it marks the beginning of a 7-day national holiday (“Golden Week”) designed to get people to spend money.

So, how much do you know about National Day and the history of the founding of the country?

Jan 28, 2014

A Nestorian Grave Site

by Joann Pittman

In the historical news department, the Catholic news service UCA recently wrote about the discovery of a gravesite in Henan Province that is believed to be a burial site of the Nestorians, the earliest Christians to reach China in the Tang Dynasty.

Jan 26, 2015

A New NGO Law Coming?

by Joann Pittman

On January 16, 2015, the magazine China Briefing reported that a new Charity Law, which has been in the drafting stage for months has finally been introduced as a bill in the National People’s Congress (NPC). The establishment of laws governing social organizations (NGOs) has long been rumored and hoped for in China, by domestic and foreign enterprises alike. Many Christian organizations are hopeful that a new law will make it easier for them to operate in China. Here’s what the article has to say about the draft law:

May 18, 2015

An Important Lens

The Taiping Rebellion

by Joann Pittman

I have always thought that in order to understand the Chinese Communist Party’s attitude toward (or shall we say fear of) religion, one needs to study up on two key events: The Boxer Rebellion (1900) and the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864). Both of those movements started out as quasi-religious and morphed into anti-government political movements that weakened, and eventually led to the downfall of the Qing Dynasty.

May 25, 2015

An Important Lens

The Boxer Rebellion

by Joann Pittman

Last week I wrote about the Taiping Rebellion as one of two lenses through which the Chinese government looks at religious movements. The second lens is the Boxer Rebellion, another quasi-religious movement that appeared on the scene in the waning years of the 19th  century.

Jan 14, 2015

An Indiana Zuotan (Informal Discussion)

by Joann Pittman

Last week, on my way home from giving two days of lectures at Taylor University, I had the opportunity to visit the Center on Religion and Chinese Society, at Purdue University in Lafayette, IN. 

Apr 30, 2014

An Overview of the Church in China

by Joann Pittman

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."

Aug 15, 2016

“Arduous” and “Oppressive”–the Life of a Chinese Athlete

by Joann Pittman

It’s been a long time since I have watched the Olympic Games on American broadcast TV, and not CCTV5, the Chinese sports channel, and there are several things that I miss. I miss the 24-hour coverage of events and watching them in their entirety, not just highlight reels. I miss watching ping-pong and badminton. And I miss getting to know the Chinese athletes.

Jul 6, 2015

Are Chinese People Religious?

by Joann Pittman

When I was teaching on a university campus, one of the things that surprised me was the admission by many of my students that they were afraid of ghosts. One of them put it to me very succinctly: “We are atheists during the day, but when the lights go out it’s a different story.”

Sep 21, 2014

Are Foreign Enterprises Being Targeted?

by Joann Pittman

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.

Mar 29, 2014

Are Most Chinese Really Atheists?

by Joann Pittman

It's an interesting question, and, as the saying goes, "it depends on what the meaning of the word 'atheist' is."

Oct 20, 2014

Are These Pictures of a Secret Church in Beijing?

by Joann Pittman

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.

Dec 21, 2014

A Ten-Year Visa

by Joann Pittman

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.

Feb 15, 2016

Avoiding Extremes

by Joann Pittman

When it comes to China reporting, two of my favorite writers are Peter Hessler and Evan Osnos, both of whom write for The New Yorker. They recently took part in a forum hosted by Asia Society to examine four decades of reporting on China by the magazine. Editor David Remnick moderated the event, and joining the conversation were three other New Yorker writers, Orville Schell, Zha Jianying, and Jiayang Fan.

Feb 26, 2014

Being Salt and Light Among the Disabled in China

by Joann Pittman

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?"

Apr 24

Books, Books, and More Books!

by Joann Pittman

According to, a Sinophile is “a person who admires or has a strong liking for China, the Chinese, or their culture.” After 25+ years in China, I guess I qualify; and I’m guessing that readers of this blog do as well. 

In addition to my own experiences of living in China, books have played a major part in helping me understand China. 

Oct 1, 2014

Brent Fulton Talks about Hong Kong

by Joann Pittman

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.

Sep 14, 2015

"Builders of the Chinese Church"

A Book Recommendation

by Joann Pittman

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend reading Builders of the Chinese Church: Pioneer Protestant Missionaries and Chinese Church Leaders, edited by Wright Doyle and Carol Hamrin.

May 6, 2016

Business as Mission or Business as Blessing?

by Joann Pittman

Are you looking to start a business to fulfill a mission or to bless a community? The latest ChinaSource Conversations podcast, “Businesses that Bless,” seeks to answer that and other questions related to doing business in China.

Apr 16, 2014

Calvinism in China

by Joann Pittman

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.

Jun 12, 2014

Can Christianity Impact Chinese Society? Ten Take-aways

by Joann Pittman

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.

Oct 23, 2013

Catholic or Christian?

by Joann Pittman

When I first went to China, I was bombarded with many odd (to me anyway) questions: can you use chopsticks? How much money do you make? Why do American parents kick their children out of the house at age 18? On and on they went.

But I'll never forget the time a student asked me, "What's the difference between Catholic and Christian?"

Feb 13


by Joann Pittman

From the series Cities of China

When I was living in Changchun in the 1990s, as the city was beginning to shed the past and put on a modern skin, I often wondered what it would look like twenty years hence. This video answers the question.

Feb 29, 2016


by Joann Pittman

From the series Cities of China

I have been to Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, twice and have three distinct memories.