Two weeks ago I had the chance to speak to a group of students and professors at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul (MN) about the church in China.
My goal was to help move those in attendance beyond the simplistic narrative of seeing the church in China primarily as a persecuted church. We tend to focus on the political environment and restrictive government regulations, things which Chinese Christians do not often focus on, because those are just part of life for everyone in China.
What would Chinese Christians say are some of the key challenges facing the church there? Our publication, Chinese Church Voices posted translations of comments made by three Chinese Christian leaders concerning some of the key issues and challenges facing the church in China today.* In each case, the perspective is that of the urban unregistered church, but many of these issues and challenges hold true for the unregistered rural churches and even the official Three-self churches.
Here are six of the challenges that these Chinese Christians identify, in their own words:
China will remain the largest mission field in the world. During the next 30 years, China will still contain the largest number of nonbelievers and unreached peoples [ ] China has 2300 county-level cities. According to one study, only one third of these cities possibly have a church. The further west one goes, the fewer Christians one finds. (Pastor Jin of Zion Church in Beijing)
One of the earmarks of the post-modern age is the sabotage of absolute truth and the deconstruction of all things, the belief that nothing is absolute save relativity itself. (A blogger)
Engagement with society
The Chinese church today needs to find and create opportunities for connecting with society. Of course we still need to go to orphanages and nursing homes, and make them feel our selfless love. Yet we also kneed even more creative channels. (Pastor Zhang of Beijing Missionary Church)
Building Vibrant Local Churches
Only if the church can bring healing to the individual, build healthy families, establish supportive communities and provide moral direction to society, will the Chinese church receive favor that is far beyond anything we can imagine today. (Pastor Jin of Zion Church in Beijing)
Training the Next Generation
Watchman Nee and Wang Mingdao influenced an entire generation of the church. Are there such lights in the Chinese church today? (Pastor Zhang of Beijing Missionary Church)
The house church in China is joining forces with the larger world church in places such as Brazil, Africa, and Southeast Asia in order to do our task of world evangelization. While China remains the largest mission field, it might also become the world's largest sending country. (Pastor Jin of Zion Church in Beijing)
A full compilation can be found in a previous post here.
If you're wondering how to pray for the church in China, let these be your guide.
* The three original articles on Chinese Church Voices:
Image credit: Joann Pittman
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