Brent Fulton recently wrote a long essay for our friends at The Gospel Coalition, titled "China’s Rise and the Church’s Call" in which he explores the ramifications to Western churches of the rebalancing of global power in general, and China’s rising influence in particular. It’s an excellent piece and we commend it in its entirety; but to whet your appetite, here are 10 key quotes:
1. Following a “century of humiliation” at the hands of Western powers, China’s leaders see America’s enduring international influence as the primary obstacle to reclaiming their country’s rightful place in the world. In their eyes, China—once the world’s largest economy and most advanced civilization—is now in the midst of national rejuvenation, leading to a return to its former glory.
2. For Western Christians, the dynamics of this transformation are mirrored in the challenges facing the church as it confronts a new reality, raising important questions about the Western church’s role in a rapidly changing world. While China is a primary concern, these questions pertain more broadly to the Western church’s relationship to the majority world as a whole.
3. As Western nations move from a position of assumed superiority to one of interdependence, so the church in America and Europe is moving from a place of dominance to one of increased interdependence with the global church.
4. The key to the Western church’s ongoing effectiveness may well be its ability to learn from majority-world believers, many of whom know what it means to be salt and light in the face of political and cultural restrictions.
5. Some of the nations where the church is growing the fastest (China included) are those where political freedoms are severely curtailed or even nonexistent. How Christians in these countries manage to live out the gospel on a personal and community level speaks volumes to believers in the West who struggle to maintain a relevant witness in the face of indifference or outright hostility.
6. Nearly all agencies sending foreign Christian workers to China report a downturn in recruits. Inside China, meanwhile, the indigenous church is ramping up efforts to mobilize a new generation of cross-cultural workers to take the gospel beyond China’s borders.
7. Western Christians need their non-Western counterparts in order to meaningfully engage the nations.
8. What happens in Beijing or Shanghai does matter in Minneapolis and Chicago and Denver.
9. A more forward-looking response would be to welcome newfound interdependence with the global church—including brothers and sisters in China.
10. Embracing emerging non-Western leaders and institutions as true allies in the cause of Christ, rather than as means to fulfill Western ministry goals, can result in a humbling appreciation for how God is advancing his kingdom around the world.
Please go to The Gospel Coalition to read the whole thing.
Image credit: Nanpu Bridge, by Dove Lee, via Flickr
Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio