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3 Questions: Indigenous Missions Movement

From the series 3 Questions


In the upcoming issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly (CSQ), we take a deep dive into the indigenous missions movement of the Chinese church, with guest editor WU Xi. In the middle of a global pandemic that has triggered travel restrictions and economic hardship and the increasingly harsh environment for the church in China, it may seem like an odd time to write about Chinese church involvement in missions. But it’s never an odd time to be reminded of what God is doing in the world to advance his kingdom. To that end, the 2020 summer issue of CSQ will provide much encouragement.

This is not the first time WU Xi has edited a Quarterly on this topic. In 2006, he focused on the Back to Jerusalem Movement and some of the controversies surrounding it. In 2013, he edited a second Quarterly issue on this topic, providing a current assessment and laying out the needs going forward.

We asked him to return to the subject again for this summer’s issue (to be published next week), focusing on some of the “significant breakthroughs in the development of the Indigenous Missions Movement (IMM) from China.”

To give you more of a hint of what’s in the issue, I reached out to WU Xi and posed three questions. Some responses have been edited for clarity.

3 Questions

1. This is the third CSQ on this topic that you have done. How has it changed over the years?
I have tracked the topic of IMM for almost 30 years. I can see what the (slowly) maturing Chinese church is going through in this. Whereas the initial discussions were limited to a handful of expats who were burdened for this and dared to dream big, the leaders who are currently active are all indigenous leaders. The language and cultural norms have also changed from that of English and expat-driven to Chinese and local-driven.

2. How do you see the global pandemic affecting IMM?
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a lot of re-thinking on the part of the Chinese leaders. Many of these new ideas have been brought up before in other settings but nobody saw the urgency to fast-track them. All of a sudden, the old way of doing missions (church planting, financial models, member care) must be re-vamped to reflect the reality and new restrictions in almost all of the mission fields where Chinese missionaries are serving.

3. What are one or two key lessons or takeaways from this issue? 
The first key lesson is that a Chinese missiology is developing. The articles on this subject in this issue are penned by local mission leaders. All of them have done significant advanced degrees in either a western or Asian setting. A second key lesson is that they are starting to write and publish their own reflections, not just their studies. It is a big leap going from a book review or an academic study to reflecting on how such studies can be applied in their context and drawing out applications. We are seeing a new generation of Chinese missiologists emerging.

Thanks, WU Xi. We look forward to reading this issue.

Watch for the 2020 summer issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, “Doing Missions with Chinese Characteristics: Developments in the Indigenous Missions Movement from China,” coming out next week.

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement 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


Image credit: nali_wike from Pixabay.

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