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ChinaSource Top Ten 2013

To come up with the list of the Top Ten Most Read articles on ChinaSource this year, we took the top five from the ChinaSource Quarterly and the top five from the ChinaSource Blog. Here they are:

Religious Statistics in China

"Current evidence is that religion is flourishing in China. However, practical problems make statistical statements for the number of religious believers in China quite hazardous. The author cautiously examines the evidence that exists for each of the five, major, officially-recognized religious faiths in China.

Counting adherents of religions in China is like entering a minefield. It is generally recognized that Chinese economic, population and birth-control statistics are massaged up or down depending on political requirements, and religious statistics are even more problematic."

Is China Persecuting More Christians for their Faith?

"The real story is not that China's Christians are being singled out for repression, but rather how their creativity and resilience enable them to thrive amidst such opposition. Most do not view themselves as passive victims of persecution. They instead see the church as poised to bring renewal to their society. Some, as documented in the China Aid report, are taking significant risks and paying a personal price to bring this about as their faith compels them to enter the public arena. For most, however, it means persistently living out their faith day by day in a manner that touches the lives of those around them."

"House Church" vs. "Three Self": Cooperation Across the Christian Community in China

"The narrative which suggests that Protestantism in contemporary China is clearly divided into the binary opposites of "house church" and "Three-Self" is so ingrained in the thinking of many scholars, observers, journalists and missionaries (among others) that it is arguably one of the dominant paradigms shaping perceptions of the church in China today. I do not think that those new to China should just accept this paradigm as a given. It goes without saying that this paradigm is at the core of much mission strategy both at the institutional as well as the individual level. While I understand that the idea that (Protestant) Christians belong to either a "house church" or a "Three-Self Church" is still championed by some, if not many church leaders and lay believers in China itself, I do not think it is reflective of much of the complex reality of Protestantism in China in 2013. I hope to demonstrate here that there is a wide range of congregation types in China and that simply thinking in terms of "house church" versus "Three-Self" is a gross oversimplification of what things are like on the ground. I will also highlight some specific examples from my own research in China of how different congregations work together."

Indigenous Mission Movement in China: A Current Assessment

"Throughout the last decade, most of these workers have developed their own focus of ministry within the entire spectrum of "China as a Sending Country." Some taught and trained prospective missionaries; others organized short-term mission teams. Several explored the possibility of forming a mission agency in China. Although there were no formal partnerships created, there were opportunities for these people to meet in various conferences allowing for significant networking and a sharing of resources.

Now, after many years of steady effort, there have been some exciting breakthroughs. These breakthroughs cover many aspects of missions."

Foreigner and Chinese Working Together: A Local Perspective

"As a Chinese citizen, I have been working with a Christian service organization in China for over ten years, serving as an assistant, a project manager, a regional director and assistant to the China Director. I have worked with many great foreign sisters and brothers; I have been managed by them and later, as a leader, worked alongside them. It has been such a blessing that God has sent so many great servants to work with us! However, even with such amazing people, there were still hard situations and misunderstandings. I hope that by learning more from us, the locals, expatriates will be able to cooperate better with local brothers and sisters. In this article, I would like to use some stories to share some basic principles. These observations are the result of my own experiences, not the conclusions of a survey. I hope they will serve as an encouragement or a reminder to you before you really work with Chinese coworkers. Let's start."

What Does the Chinese Constitution Say About Religion?

"Misconceptions abound regarding what the Constitution of the People's Republic of China has to say about religion. The government trumpets the fact that the freedom of religious belief is enshrined in the Constitution. And we often hear about the constitution forbidding the teaching of religion to those under 18. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what the constitution has to say about religion and religious freedom."

Eastern Lightning and the End of the World

"China's Eastern Lightning cult is back in the news again, thanks to the ancient Mayans. It seems that their calendar comes to an end on December 21, causing millions to believe that the day will mark the end of the world. The "doomsday" craze has hit China big-time and the Eastern Lightning cult (which, for some reason, media outlets have taken to calling the Almighty God cult) has used the opportunity to launch an "evangelistic" offensive in China, telling people that the only way to be saved from the coming apocalypse is to join the Eastern Lightning group.

In response, of course, the government has launched a counter-offensive, with the latest reports indicating that more than 1000 members of the group have been arrested.

I first encountered the group in China in 2000. As some friends from the US and I were wandering around Tiananmen Square on a cold day in January, a young man came up to me and offered me a Bible."

Chinese Church Voices: Trends on China's Christian Media

"In June of 2012, ChinaSource launched a blog called Chinese Church Voices where we have been posting translations of content taken from Mainland Christian online sources websites, blogs, and micro-blogs. Our goal is to help give outsiders a chance to "listen in on the conversations" that Chinese Christians are having online.

I recently went back through the articles that we have posted to see if there were any observable trends. Here's what I noticed (with links)."

The "New" New HSK: Suddenly So Significant

"Cataclysmic" is how I describe the impact I foresee of the recent decision of Beijing's educational establishment to allow HSK test takers to type instead of write.

"HSK" stands for hanyu shuiping kaoshi (). Beginning in 1992, the HSK tests Chinese proficiency just as the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) tests English proficiency. Revised in 2009, it's now called the "New HSK."

For the average student of Chinese, even those who are otherwise quite good, writing characters by hand is slow and mistakes many. But typing Chinese is fast and mistakes few. [On a properly configured computer, you first type the pronunciation of a Chinese word, like shiqing, then select from a short list of characters so pronounced: .]

For most students, typing instead of writing makes the HSK test a far more accurate reflection of their true Chinese proficiency. That's because nearly all real-life writing is or can be done on computers and devices. And, with no handwritten section, the test is far less intimidating.

Warm-hearted; Cool-headed

I often recall meeting with a missionary from China. Touching his heart, this missionary said, "The heart for missions work needs to be fervent." Then patting his head, he proceeded to say, "However, the head needs to remain calm, never the reverse: hot-headed and cold-hearted."

I feel that being "warm-hearted and cool-headed" is a fitting description for the progressive growth to maturity of Mainland Chinese missionaries and their teams. This article is not a description of the overall structure and system of Chinese missions; rather, it is intended to describe, from my observations and experiences, several often overlooked areas in China's early involvement in international missions. This self-reflection and sharing with fellow workers hopefully will result in intercessory prayer from members of Christ's Body and in their enlightenment.

Thanks for reading! We hope to have even more great content for you in 2014!

Image credit: Joann Pittman

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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

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