"How many Christians in China?"
"Are believers still persecuted?"
Despite an exponential increase in the availability of information on Chinaincluding the church in Chinain recent years, questions like these are still common whenever the conversation turns to Christianity in China.
Last year I spent some time with Dr. Marv Newell, Vice President of MissioNexus, discussing these and other oft-asked questions about China. The result was a webinar, The Church and Missions in China, which can be purchased on the MissioNexus website
Together we probed the complex relationship between the church and government in China. We looked at the realities behind the church's vision for cross-cultural ministryboth within China and beyond China's borders.
"What about China's official church?"
"Is China becoming a Christian nation?"
"What does the church in China need?"
Marv and I discussed these questions as well. We looked at the effects of China's rapid urbanization upon the church. We also considered the various "faces" of the church in China, and why it is so hard to make generalizations about the state of the church in the Middle Kingdom.
We wrapped up our conversation by examining the relationship between the church inside and outside China, asking the question, "How can we in the West serve most effectively? What is our role?" (At the top of the list is "Listen," which may come as a disappointment to some who are asking what they can do in China. We seem to forget that listen is a verb; it requires intentionality, particularly in a place like China where what's on the surface may only faintly reflect the reality that lies beneath.)
Despite all the changes in China, some of the questions seem to remain much the same. The answers, however, like China itself, are continually changing.
For more on some of the "perennial" church and China questions, see Brent's post, "The Facts about the Church in China."
Brent Fulton is the founder of ChinaSource. Prior to assuming his current position, he served from 1995 to 2000 as the managing director of the Institute for Chinese Studies at Wheaton College. From 1987 to 1995 he served as founding US director of China Ministries International, and from 1985 to... View Full Bio