Being a Christian in China is never easy, leading our children to Jesus is even harder. During the pandemic, Sunday school for kids faced a variety of challenges.
For most house churches in urban areas of China, renting a place for Sunday services is very common. Larger churches with more than 100 members may rent a hotel conference room or office building space; smaller house churches use a member’s own apartment or rent an apartment for worship services.
When the pandemic started in February 2020, big cities began to lock down. Brothers and sisters were not able to meet together and there was no use of rented places. After a couple of months, many churches decided to stop leasing places for worship. Our church had been renting an office space for Sunday worship before the pandemic, but we stopped the lease in July 2020. Due to the uncertainty, until today we still don’t have a fixed place for church activities.
Early in the pandemic our church started holding online Sunday services using Zoom and church members got used to it after a few weeks. But Sunday school is very challenging because kids are not able to focus for long with classes being on the screen. The Sunday school teacher from our church would assign some homework like coloring Bible story pictures then they would do role playing when the class started. After 30 minutes all came back together to share the homework. It’s not like before when the kids could play together, share toys and so on. Unfortunately, the online classroom size got smaller and smaller and after a certain time my son didn’t want to attend either.
Thankfully, as the pandemic situation is getting better, people are able to meet again. Our church is now able to have in-person worship on Sundays. However, finding a place to rent is not as easy as it was before the pandemic. Now when landlords find out we are a church they turn us down.
Currently our Sunday service is a combination of online and offline (in-person) elements. The offline service splits into four groups on Sunday based on the Bible study groups. Two groups meet at restaurants, the third group meets at a coffee shop, and the fourth group meets at an elder’s apartment. Where to put the kids on Sunday is a very difficult issue. The elder’s apartment is not big enough and the coffee shop is very loud, so the church leaders decided to put the kids in two alternating restaurants. The church encourages the parents and their kids go to the same restaurant that has the Sunday school even though the parents are not from the same Bible study group.
Before the pandemic our church had three kids’ Sunday school classes in different rooms because of their age range. Now we have to put all the kids in one restaurant room and have to move the table and chairs around to make space. Due to the limited space we can only have one Sunday school teacher at a time. And because one teacher can’t cover all three classes some kids have stopped coming and the classroom size has dropped from 20 kids down to two.
In addition to Sunday school, many other kids’ activities have also stopped. Sadly, the Summer English Campaign did not take place because no foreign teachers could get into the county. Our Chinese New Year gathering was also stopped as well as the kids’ choir.
Yet we remember Jesus’ command, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Recently our church has started to encourage every member to join in-person services again by not providing the Zoom login information. More kids have started to come back and now our church is trying to rent an extra room for kids’ activities.
The churches in China know how important it is to raise kids in a Christian environment, but in some areas, due to the new religious regulations and the COVID situation, children are not allowed to attend church services.1 Local churches need God’s wisdom and increased effort to help the kids and local community.
I invite you to join us in praying for the next generation of believers in China:
- Pray for believers to be able to pass the faith on to the next generation,
- Pray for the children of Christian families to have more space for Sunday School,
- Pray for more children to seek the Lord.
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