WeChat has become a deeply embedded part of Chinese modern society with growing impact. Chinese Christian believers are stepping into this social media in big ways both personally and for ministry purposes.
Here are the stunning facts:
- WeChat has over 1.2 billion monthly active users.
- WeChat users send 45 billion messages daily.
- WeChat users spend 82 minutes on the platform every day.
- WeChat Mini Programs see as much as 1.1 billion transactions every day.
- WeChat Pay has registered over 900 million monthly active users.
What some people may not realize is that WeChat is a super app—those of us from the US who have used it quickly became addicted to it because it has all the features of individual apps that Americans use on a daily basis in one place. WeChat is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, FaceTime, Apple Pay, a banking app, a real estate app, and business website all wrapped up into one simple user face.
In fact, it has become so critical to everyday life that most Chinese can’t imagine living without it. It is not an app you use once in a while or use once and eventually might go back to; it’s the lifeblood of interacting and living in Chinese society today.
Think of it as being as important as your cellphone and wallet.
Now, imagine that you are a Christian in China. Is there any question that you would use WeChat? I dare say that the vast majority, 99% or higher, are avid users. In fact, the use of WeChat is perhaps one social factor causing burn-out in ministry leaders. Being so easy to communicate with thousands of people—it is almost impossible for a caring pastor to disconnect.
A new etiquette of instant connection expectations has emerged in recent years. People apologize for not replying “right away.” Imagine how frazzled people are becoming in this country where relationships and communication are everything.
Christians use WeChat all the time for nurturing their spiritual lives. Every home fellowship has their own WeChat group. Many local churches have the entire large group on WeChat, as well as their leadership teams. Nationally there are WeChat groups with hundreds or even thousands of people praying and sharing prayer requests.
Most Chinese Christians don’t think about security when using WeChat. Some Christian leaders do, for sure, but for the average Christian it’s just like sending an email or giving someone a phone call. You always do it through WeChat.
Indeed, one could say that WeChat is the online tool that is most helping bond believers together and spread the gospel more than any other. In some ways, the extent Chinese churches and their small groups are well connected through this social media puts us in the West to shame. Real care, communication, and prayer happen more frequently because of this connectedness. And when someone moves to another part of the country there is the possibility of an immediate sharing of a contact and connection with a new church.
Sermons, Christian music, and testimonies are posted there. We also can see translated articles from magazines like Christianity Today.
Video sermons from around the world are posted on another site called Good TV and then get shared on WeChat. It is incredible how many Christian resources are now available to Chinese believers online. Unfortunately, there’s not always a good filter or people who can give critical analysis of the value and level of biblical teaching. So, global Christianity continues to impact Chinese Christianity via social media.
But do Christians worry about compromised personal privacy issues? Very few do. And even if they are worried about it they still have to live in this society and so most just move forward with it. Are Christian leaders in China careful about using WeChat? Yes, some are very careful, especially depending on their connections. But the same Chinese Christian leaders who are very careful about sharing church leadership-related issues on WeChat, are still active personally on the app. It is an integral part of Chinese society.
The biggest story about WeChat is that the Christian church in China is using it well and growing through it. God is using this media for his glory!
Image credit: Marco Verch via Flickr.
Brent Hoover has 30 years of cross-cultural experience and is fluent in Mandarin. He has a master’s degree in intercultural studies from Wheaton Graduate School and a master’s of divinity degree from Michigan Theological Seminary. Currently, Brent works in the area of leader development. He also contributes articles at this blog: https://healthyleaders.com/author/brenthoover/.View Full Bio
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