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Toward an Urban Church Theology


When I wrote China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot be Hidden, it was with the conviction that massive urbanization in China had significant implications for China’s church. The emergence of a new kind of church in the city was not merely an extension of the experience of China’s primarily rural house church movements or of churches affiliated with the TSPM. Rather, a fresh set of dynamics was impacting the development of China’s newly forming urban Christian communities.

The latest issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, with its theme of urban church theology, delves into these dynamics. Guest editors Mary Ma and LI Jin have pulled together an impressively well-rounded look at the increasingly complex urban church environment. The articles in this issue address questions including:

  • What kind of church planting models are emerging, and why?
  • How does the socioeconomic status of China’s urban migrant believers affect their expressions of faith?
  • What are the theological convictions undergirding the urban church movement as it takes new steps to engage with society?
  • What changes have defined the urban church as it has developed over time?
  • How are China’s urban believers utilizing social media?
  • What obstacles stand in the way of non-believers coming into the church?
  • How do political ideology and consumer capitalism together create the unique socio-theological conditions facing the church?
  • How can believers outside China be praying for China’s urban believers?

Addressing the relationship between China’s Christians and their new urban environment, Mary Ma concludes:

Wherever Christians live, city or countryside, their social environment is a magnifying lens of their heart condition. There exists no holy soil to which Christians can retreat; at the same time, there is no darkness that the gospel of Jesus Christ cannot conquer—including even the dark corners of the city. Living in the city challenges Christians to be more alert to spiritual temptations and, at the same time, more confident in the power of the gospel.[1]

For China’s Christians, urbanization has become a two-edged sword, bringing both new temptations and unprecedented opportunities. The summer 2017 issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, “Christian Living in the City,” looks at both sides of the church’s ongoing urban transformation. 

Image credit: big arrows by Jason Chan via Flickr. 
Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton is the president of ChinaSource and the editor of the ChinaSource Quarterly. 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... View Full Bio