In a previous post, we translated an interview with an urban pastor in Beijing regarding the vision he has for his church. In this post, translated from the Christian Times, we hear from a pastor who leads a church of migrant factory workers in Dongguan, Guangdong Province.
Chinas urban church is on the rise, particularly in "young" cities with large floating populations of migrant workers whose spirits, heavy under the strain of demanding job schedules, long to experience rest and peace. In response to this need, some pastors have established churches near factories and plants where many migrant workers are employed.
Pastor Li is the pastor of a factory church in Dongguan, Guangdong Province. In the year 2000 he joined a church in Guangzhou to provide discipleship training. Then, in 2005, he and his wife, also serving full-time in the church, came to a factory in Dongguan to begin the work of preaching the gospel. Six months later, they established a church. In a recent interview, a Christian Times web-based correspondent invited Pastor Li to share his Church's vision, a vision that Li refers to as staying united in mission to plant churches in cities."
Below is the content of the interview (Christian times = CT Pastor Li = Li)
CT: Do you think a church needs a vision and what function does a vision have for a church?
Li: Every church needs to have a vision. If there is no vision, then there cant be any goal, direction or motivation. Proverbs 29:18 says that without vision (or revelation) people cast off restraint that is they become irresponsible, lifeless, or exist in name only. It is not only churches that need to have a vision; businesses, corporations, and even countries need them as well. They all need to have vision, which is an attainable direction and goal.
CT: I recently interviewed another pastor who told me that he felt that if a church overemphasized a vision in a certain area it would lead members to place an unhealthy bias on the vision and neglect or overlook God's intended purposes. Consequently, the church he was pastoring held to a general principle: "attempt to avoid using the word vision. How do you see this issue?
Li: A leader or a pastor with a vision from God inevitably will lead a church with a vision. They know when they should or shouldn't do something. Things of little significance will not cause them to lose sight of their goal. Everyone's direction will be in agreement; that is they wont waste their energy on unnecessary disputes. This kind of church is a church with vitality.
God has granted every church and pastor their own unique gifts, visions, burdens and abilities to serve within their respective congregations. Churches consist of local Christians working together for the sake of the larger body and the function of every part of the body is radically different. Its simply unrealistic to think that one part could be complete on its own. This reveals the importance of complimenting one another through differences. For a church to stress everything as equally important, the end result will be that nothing is important. It is enough to complete the task that God has entrusted to each individual.
CT: Could you share the vision of your church?
Li: In fact, man does not determine vision. Vision is from God. Man simply decides the necessary steps for accomplishing the desired goal and how those steps will be ordered.
Because the cities where we live are "young cities" which place great emphasis on manufacturing, the migrant population accounts for around 90% of the total population and consists of laborers from every province in China. Population turnover is significant. Nearly every year close to half of the workforce leaves or talks about leaving. Our goal is to share the gospel with the migrant population and to establish a church near the factory or within the community.
Given that most who attend the church are young singles and married couples whose children are not with them, we have struggled to develop Sunday school. We place a fair amount of stress on discipleship training, training small group leaders and encouraging them to learn how to lead a small group. Several small groups worship together on Sunday creating a relatively complete church. We do things this way in order to contextualize. The basic vision, staying united in mission to plant churches in cities hasn't changed.
CT: How do you communicate the vision within the church? Do members have a strong awareness of the vision?
Li: Through prayer, scripture reading, hearing the word and reading, pastors gain a vision. After obtaining a vision, they must first share it with the staff of the church. After determining the goal as well as specific strategies, the vision can be presented to the congregation. Also a brief statement of the vision, slogan, etc., can be created to help everyone clearly understand and carry out the vision. The most critical thing is to find people who can carry out the vision.
CT: In the process of leading the church how do you achieve the goal of the vision?
Li: The goal of the church's vision cannot be too large. It should be carried out in stages, and should be such that it can be evaluated. The key to living out the vision lies with the pastor and his ability to lead. The leaders of the church must be an example, encouraging everyone to participate. The vision must also be communicated often and evaluated regularly cast to make everyone aware to whom they are responsible.
Original article: 城市民工教会牧者谈教会异象：合一宣教 城市植堂
Image source: The Vision, by Eustaquio Santimano, via Flickr
Are you enjoying a cup of good coffee or fragrant tea while reading the latest ChinaSource post? Consider donating the cost of that “cuppa” to support our content so we can continue to serve you with the latest on Christianity in China.