The Lantern

China’s Urban Christians—A New Book by Brent Fulton

We are pleased to announce the release of China’s Urban Christians: A Light That Cannot Be Hidden, a new book by Brent Fulton. The work, published by Wipf and Stock, is now is available on Amazon and from Wipf and Stock Publishers directly.  

We hope this book will be used to inform and equip those engaging in China-related ministries, such that their efforts would be an even greater blessing to those they serve.

We asked Brent to tell us what he hopes two different potential audiences will gain from reading his book.

  • The first group includes those who know little about the church in China beyond what they read in the headlines.
  • The second group includes those who are already serving in China, either in a short-term or long-term capacity.

For someone who knows little about the church in China, what do you hope they will learn from this book?

The church in China is changing!

Christians in China are often viewed as a persecuted minority, having little influence in their society. While persecution still exists, this widely held view obscures the vibrancy of the church today as it responds to unprecedented opportunities in China’s dynamic urban environment. Contrary to much of what we hear about the church in China, the challenges that Christians face today are not primarily political.

With urbanization and generational change have come many practical concerns such as how the church is to be organized and led, how believers should relate to their society, how Christian families should function in an increasingly materialistic postmodern culture, and the role of Chinese Christians within the global Christian community. The political environment certainly influences how Christians are able to respond to these issues. Nevertheless, even if China were to experience significant political change, the questions Christians are asking today would still be very similar.

My hope is that this book will illuminate facets of Christian life in China that are often missed by outside observers and will provide a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between church and state in China. 

What would you like someone who is already serving in China (short- or long-term) to get out of the book?

The corollary of the “persecution narrative” mentioned above is an assumption that the church in China is a needy church. Certainly many who have served during the past three and a half decades have met huge needs for Bibles, literature, training, and other things lacking within the church. Many have also been on the forefront of service in areas such as education and social service.

As the urban church comes into its own, Christians in China are increasingly well-resourced.  As the church matures and as China develops economically, believers in China are stepping up to assume roles and responsibilities that, in the past, might have been fulfilled by others. Rather than asking how we can serve them, we need to listen deeply to the vision God has given them and ask how we can serve with believers in China.

The book suggests a number of ways in which to think about this. It is also important to know where the fault lines lie among today’s Chinese Christians, who are able to come together like never before and yet have many reasons not to. Without understanding these divisions and the dynamics behind them, those from outside can unwittingly exacerbate tensions rather than encouraging unity. 

News & Notes

  • In late October, we hosted our first ChinaSource Connect event that took place in Hong Kong. A panel, comprised of Brent Fulton, Mike Barbalas, and Mark Swallow, sparked an engaging discussion on the current state of the church in China, including interactions with the crowd of 35 that were in attendance.
  • Joann Pittman was interviewed on WORD-FM Pittsburgh on the recent change of China’s one-child policy. Listen in at the 1:34:00 mark.
  • Joann Pittman traveled to China for ten days. While there, in addition to visiting friends and colleagues, she spoke to a group of Calvin University students.
  • Brent was interviewed by ChristianityToday (for the print edition) on China's emerging missions movement. He also spoke at a conference in Hong Kong on the same topic.
  • Two ChinaSource Connect events in Beijing provided an opportunity for Brent and Joann to interact with a dozen ChinaSource readers. Brent gave an overview of his new book and Joann shared about the ChinaSource Institute, a new training and orientation initiative ChinaSource will be launching next year to serve agency personnel, church groups, and business professionals who are preparing to come to China. 

Ways to Pray

  • Pray for Christian leaders in China who are gathering this month in a ChinaSource-sponsored retreat to go deeper in their spiritual journey and to be equipped to serve others in their organizations and churches.
  • Brent Fulton’s new book, China’s Christians: A Light that Cannot be Hidden, was released this month. Pray that the Lord would use the book to equip many who are serving in China and to draw non-believing readers to Himself.
  • In an effort to better deal with China’s growing elderly population, the Chinese government has announced that families are now allowed to have two children. Pray for wisdom for Christian parents and for those engaging in family ministry in China.
  • Lift up the year-end financial needs of ChinaSource. 
ChinaSource Team

ChinaSource Team

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