Chinese Church VoicesChurch and Society

Pastor Jin on the Church and Social Responsibility

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Jiin Mingri, Pastor of Zion Church in Beijing, is one of the more influential urban house church pastors in China. His sermons are frequent article topics on Mainland Christian websites. This article, posted on the website JiduWang (Christian Net), is about a sermon he gave in July about some of the lessons that the Chinese church can learn from the experience of the church in South Korea, particularly in the area of reaching out to society.T

he revival of the Korean Church is widely known and its influence cannot be ignored. After WWII, in the course of only a few decades, a small, poor nation became todays second largest missionary sending country. In recent decades Christianity in China has also experienced rapid growth and as one of Koreas neighboring countries, there is much to emulate and many lessons to be learned from the passion and experience of the Korean Church.

However, recent remarks by one of Chinas house church leaders suggest that when we look at the growth of the Korean church in recent decades, there are many areas worth reconsidering. For example, the Korean churchs neglect of its mission and responsibility to society lead to incalculable loss. The Chinese church would do well to remain alert to the same areas in order to avoid following in the footsteps of the Korean Church. These words of caution, spoken by Jin Mingri, Senior Pastor of the Beijing Zion Church were repeatedly stressed during the sermon he delivered on July 15, 2012.

Pastor Jin, who is an ethnic Korean himself, has spent a number of years researching both the Korean church and the Korean church in America. He has also lead churches in Beijing and Inner Mongolia and studied theology in Korea and America. During his sermon on July 15, he first mentioned the negative repercussions and many problems that the Korean church has been dealing with in recent months as well as the need for genuine reflection: "Following WWII the Korean church experienced 30 years of revival. The number of Christians increased substantially, and the Korean church became the second largest missionary sending church worldwide today, however, Christianity is currently in a state of decline. Recently, the church has become the object of sharp criticism from Korean society, even to the extent that some have suggested the pressure the Korean church currently faces is greater than that of Japanese occupation. This has generated reflection within the leadership of the Korean church."

"The leaders of the Korean church have discovered that during the past several decades the church has been concerned only with individual salvation and ignored the needs of society; has placed value only on individual blessing, and neglected its mission to society; has only emphasized church growth, and ignored societal responsibility; has only cared about the next life and disregarded this present life

"These are the reasons that criticism of the church has arisen within Korean society after several decades of rapid church growth. Pastor Jin, speaking with marked candor, then pointed out: "As a matter of fact, currently, the Chinese church is facing the same situation. The Chinese church longs for revival and growth, but before it can experience widespread growth, the church must first recognize these realities, and establish a strong foundation."

Pastor Jin then led the congregation in the reading of scripture: Micah 6:6-8, states that the book of Micah is comprised of the words of God spoken to the prophet Micah while he worshiped. The author, Micah, was a man who had found favor with God. He received salvation, lived before the face of God and was devout in worship. He was also a man with a heart of gratitude toward God, so he was willing to relinquish all for God; the congregation at that time was flourishing and affluent and was very willing to give thanks, offer sacrifices and serve God. Yet, at such a time, God chose to rebuke it through the mouth of a prophet. God said: "What I desire is not your sacrifices. This is not what I require. What I want is simple. It is to 'act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God."

"To walk with God, is a beautiful description of the life of God's people."

Pastor Jin then continued: "We often talk of walking with God, yet it seems that walking with God refers only to individual spiritual formation: reading the Bible in the morning, praying, attending church on Sundayalso devoting time to and serving the church these things are certainly very important and they are also pleasing to God. This passage of scripture, however, enables us to see that there are deeper implications of walking with God."

"In fact, Gods rebuke of His people at that time was essentially an admonition and a corrective to their faith. God thinks well of your earnestness regarding spiritual formation, as well as your devotion and service to the church, but it is not enough," Pastor Jin pointed out.

The number of believers during the time of Micah grew rapidly. The Chinese church in the past twenty years has experienced the same thing. Chinese society has also grown rapidly. In the past twenty years, the economy has experienced significant changes, including breathtaking economic growth, but many problems have emerged; morality has declined and there is spiritual emptinesssome say that relationships between people are growing increasingly superficial, causing society as a whole to become increasingly indifferent. Organized religion over the past twenty years also seems to have experienced significant growth. It appears to be flourishing, however, it still has absolutely no ability to influence society, let alone improve society. In fact, internally, there is much corruption within organized religion.

"Prior to Micah 6, God indicates that his purpose for leading the Israelites out of Egypt was not only that they might become his chosen people, but also that they would become a kingdom of priests, act justly and love mercy." Pastor Jin then declared to each individual present: "The reason God saved us is not only that we would become followers of Christ. When we did not know him, he enabled us to know him. This is God's grace. However, grace has a purpose. Salvation should produce a marked effectGod saved us with the hope that we would be a blessing to society."

"When it comes to individual salvation, however, oftentimes we are content with merely giving God thanks. We overemphasize the successes and failures of our Christian life and the focus of our faith becomes set on heaven alone. Pastor Jin continued, "Certainly, those who know God not only have hope for this life, but also have an eternal hope. The Christian faith, however, should not only be concerned with what will happen after we die."

"God places greater emphasis on this current life. The hope of the kingdom of God is that it will be carried out on earth through the prayers and effort of God's people. Now, how exactly does God desire his people to live out their life, in order to bless contemporary society and this current generation? It is to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

The congregation during the time of Micah was very prosperous, but they didnt recognize this. They were blind to what God truly desired. So God said he would curse his people and bring destruction on them. In less than 200 years, his prophecy was fulfilled. This kind of language should cause us to reflect."

Pastor Jin called the church to pay closer attention to society and to fix its eyes on the needs and mission of society. He shared that the current vision of the Beijing Zion church consists of three characteristics, "listening attentively to God's Word, establishing a Christian family, and carrying the gospel westward. The church is currently doing all three and all are valuable to the churchs mission. However, of late, God has made him increasingly aware of the importance of serving society and he is considering whether or not there is a need to clarify this within the churchs vision.

He spoke to the members of the church saying: "God has great expectations for us. He expects his people to live out his plan and to be an acceptable witness. Furthermore, we often only pay attention to individual salvation, but neglect the needs of society. We need to be aware that in a rapidly transforming society like the one in which we are living, it is necessary to consider how to use love, truth and the gifts granted us to serve society and those in need.

"We ourselves not only need to receive Gods salvation and blessing, but we also need to rely on God's love, grace and blessing in order to assume responsibility for and to love the society in which we live and enable those around us to gain a foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven."

Original article: 金明日牧师:中国教会应重视社会责任

Image credit: Migrant Worker at the Shanghai Railway by Joanne Wan, via Flickr

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