The Lantern

Perspectives from China’s Christian Leaders and Those Who Serve with Them

For the past two years ChinaSource has been part of a research initiative aimed at better understanding how Chinese believers view their current situation and their relationship to the global church. We are pleased to present some of the findings in the latest issue of ChinaSource Quarterly.

Brent Fulton

For decades overseas churches and organizations have worked together to serve the church in China. Over time the needs have changed. Whereas basic theological and biblical training were once the mainstay of ministry from overseas, believers today express more of a need for mentors than for traditional teachers.

This is one of the findings of a study conducted by the China Gospel Research Alliance and featured in the spring 2017 ChinaSource Quarterly. Based on surveys and interviews of Chinese Christians and representatives of foreign organizations that serve the Chinese church, the study examined perceptions of the current situation, the state of the church, and the nature of partnership between Christians inside and outside China.

Other findings include:

  • Chinese respondents expect that financial support from overseas will increase in the future, while respondents from outside China expect it to decrease.
  • Chinese respondents perceive political pressure on the church to be decreasing, while respondents from outside China believe it is increasing.
  • Priorities of Chinese Christian leaders include cross-cultural missions, discipleship, and raising up the next generation.
  • Social engagement of churches is primarily in the areas of serving the marginalized, marriage, and education, and is primarily oriented toward those within the church.
  • Interaction between churches in China is seen as more fruitful than interaction between churches and inside and outside China.

Looking at how Chinese believers work together with foreign or overseas Chinese Christians, the study examined cross-cultural dynamics that affect priorities, the use of resources, and, most critically, how communication takes place. Understanding these potential obstacles can be a starting point for more fruitful collaboration. As Christians in China develop a greater vision to engage in cross-cultural outreach, addressing these relational complexities becomes ever more important.

The era of service to the church in China is giving way to a new era of serving with the church in China. This era calls for a fresh alignment of perspectives and priorities as the church in China assumes a new role at home and within the global Church.

News and Notes

  • Joann Pittman spoke at a book club in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 25 about her book The Bells Are Not Silent: Stories of Church Bells in China.
  • Brent Fulton was quoted by Ian Johnson in “Focusing on religious oppression in China misses the big picture,” on the CNN website on February 28.
  • ChinaSource sponsored two coach training courses in Hong Kong in March.
  • Brent Fulton was quoted by Nathan VanderKlippe in “Religious suppression creates ‘black market’ for believers in China” in The Globe and Mail on March 1.
  • Brent Fulton spoke at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD on March 3.
  • One of Brent Fulton’s posts for From the West Courtyard was reposted on March 15 as part of The Gospel Coalition’s series on China.
  • On March 16 Joann Pittman spoke at a senior’s luncheon at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • Joann Pittman spoke on March 18 at a Chinese Friendship Dinner at the Hospitality Center for Chinese in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Ways to Pray

For ChinaSource

  • This month ChinaSource launches a new package of services for organizations that are dealing with China’s new Overseas NGO Law. Pray that the information and counsel we provide will prove useful.
  • We are grateful for the enthusiastic response our latest ChinaSource Institute online course, “The Church in China Today,” has received. Lift up those preparing to serve in China this summer who are currently taking the course.
  • In order to complete the current phase of the Faith and Generosity in China Initiative we need to raise an additional US$35,409 this spring. This funding will enable the provision of needed resources for Christians in China. Please join us in bringing this need before the Lord.

In response to ChinaSource Quarterly information

  • Pray for wisdom and insight for Christian leaders, both inside and outside China as they form new partnerships. Pray that all involved will understand their roles as they partner together in China’s rapidly changing environment.
  • As China’s church and Chinese Christians gain a higher degree of visibility in society, pray that their involvement will be thoughtful, wise, and godly.
  • As mainland Chinese Christians and believers from overseas interact and work together, pray for understanding and acceptance of cultural differences, for good communication, and for valued, perceptive relationships.
  • Pray for wise responses to changing religious policies and God’s protection and presence when discrimination and persecution are present.
  • The church in China is well positioned to help care for the growing elderly population; pray for wisdom to know how to respond to this challenge and the resources to respond.

In Case You Missed It

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Image credit: Spring Festival's End by Bridget Coila via Flickr.
ChinaSource Team

ChinaSource Team

Written or edited by members of the ChinaSource staff.          View Full Bio

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