This month, it is with excitement that we announce the launch of ChinaSource Conversations!
ChinaSource Conversations aims to bring together those with China expertise and experience to share ideas and dialogue about timely topics impacting China's church. These discussions are captured as podcasts and will be available on our website.
The first series of podcasts will be centered on the key topics that guided our “Walking with Leaders” event last year that brought together leaders in China ministries to share their perspectives.
To give us a bit more context about this new series we sat down with Brother Mark, one of the three individuals that put the “Walking with Leaders” consultation together.
CS: To better understand where this series of podcasts is coming from, can you take us back to how “Walking with Leaders”’ began?
Brother Mark: It started when ChinaSource began noticing that more and more ministries and organizations in China were asking how they could impact a smaller group of people over a longer period of time as opposed to using the more traditional formats of large groups in training/academic environments.
With such a prevalence of interest, it seemed appropriate to gather people with this common perspective to interact with each other, share needs, exchange resources and ideas, etc. Initially we were just talking about mentoring but as we delved into this area of “people development” we found three specific topics that warranted discussion—coaching, mentoring, and spiritual formation.
CS: How do you see these three topics connecting in the context of discipleship?
Brother Mark: Coaching is “drawing out,” mentoring is “pouring in,” and spiritual formation is the big picture, the landscape of our journey with the Lord.
For example, if we’re climbing a mountain, and reaching the peak is the final moment when we’re transformed and fully united with Christ, then the climb up the mountain is the process and journey of being spiritually [trans] formed into the likeness of Christ, thus spiritual formation.
Each of us is at a different place on the mountain and depending on where we are, we have different needs.
Sometimes coaching is needed because we need to broaden our horizons; we need help in self-discovery so we can take ownership of that journey on the mountain. Other times a mentor is needed to pass on skills we lack in order to ascend a certain part of the mountain. A mentor can pour into our lives and show us how it’s done.
If spiritual formation is the journey, then coaching and mentoring are the tools that move us closer to the Lord.
CS: What can we expect from these podcasts?
Brother Mark: Each podcast will focus on one of the three topics mentioned. The people interviewed on these podcasts have been identified by ChinaSource as having experience and expertise in these areas. The goal is to bring together people who have knowledge as well as considerable China experience to speak on these topics from a personal perspective. We also want to include our mainland brothers and sisters who are ministering in these areas to ensure both foreign and local voices are represented.
Given the diversity amongst the speakers, we anticipate a rich dialogue and exchange of ideas resulting in a valuable resource enabling those ministering in China to hear from others who have walked the same path. We hope that these podcasts will be both informative and encouraging.
CS: The first podcast in the series is on coaching. Before our readers take a moment to listen, can you help us understand the situation in China right now in the area of coaching?
Brother Mark: Increasingly the churches, particularly in the urban centers, are becoming familiar with the term coaching. Internalizing the paradigm of coaching, however, takes time and doesn’t happen over night.
Coaching is the skill of listening well and using good questions to draw out the answers that are within those being coached, while honoring them as the experts of their own contexts. It insists on the coachee setting the agenda and the coach working hard to refrain from giving advice even when the answers seem obvious to the coach.
One of the key things to note about coaching is that the coach is not the expert. This aspect is quite different from what’s common in Chinese culture, where someone in authority or leadership is seen as the expert. Because coaching operates counter-culturally, it’s important up front, from the beginning, to help the coachee understand this paradigm. They also need to understand that wrestling with questions is part of the dynamic; it’s not about having all the answers. This way of thinking can be new for many Chinese who are coming out of an academic environment where they’re expected to know the answer when asked.
CS: What would your advice be to those who are new to ministry in China and may not be as familiar with navigating the cultural nuances?
Brother Mark: My #1 encouragement for any foreigner serving in China, whether just starting out or as a seasoned worker, is to maintain a learning posture. Even if you’ve been in China 20 years, stay inquisitive and eager to learn, ask questions and don’t assume, honor those who are experts of their own culture. My challenge to my Chinese brothers and sisters is to give coaching a try; stick with it even if it feels uncomfortable. To Chinese coaches, the coaching world needs to hear more from you—what is unique to coaching in China and what works and doesn’t work.
To listen to the first in our podcast series on coaching, visit ChinaSource Conversations.
News & Notes
SPEAKING: Joann Pittman spoke at a volunteer training event jointly sponsored by China Outreach Ministries and Hospitality Center for Chinese in Minneapolis, MN.
SPEAKING: Joann Pittman spoke at a training event for International Students International (ISI) in St. Paul, MN.
Ways to Pray
- Pray that men and women in China who are commited to coaching, mentoring, living counter culturally, and who desire to grow in the Lord find and lean into a safe and flourishing Christian community.
- Pray that the poor, marginalized, and migrant will also have a voice in the areas of coaching, mentoring, and spiritual formation. Pray that these themes will not be just for the urban and educated.
- To date we have raised about half of the funds needed to publish Christ-Centered Generosity in China. We believe this book, filled with generosity stories from around the world, will be instrumental in encouraging Chinese believes to grow in the gift of giving. Pray for the remainder of funds needed for this project.
- Pray for pastors in China who have begun meeting to draft a series of generosity-related sermons that can be used in churches across China.
- Tensions continue to mount in Zhejiang Province, where government officials have aggressively removed crosses from hundreds of church buildings. Pray for understanding on the part of the government and for wisdom for believers to know how to respond.
- Pray that the Lord of the Harvest will raise up discerning and godly leaders for the church in China.
Image credit: Lanterns by Bowen Chin via Flickr.
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