For Chinese Christians, Easter is a special time to celebrate baptisms—often a once a year event for many churches. Meanwhile we're also in the midst of an important political season in China. We look at both these developments in this month's Lantern.
Dr Brent Fulton
Greetings from the Chinese capital where the Two Meetings (两会) have just finished. Each year these meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference set the tone for the government’s direction and work for the coming year. Over the past few weeks the main news has been the abolishing of term limits for China’s top leaders. This has generated heated discussion throughout China and around the world.
This deluge of news easily obscures what may be even more important stories. In China our brothers and sisters are getting ready for Easter. That means getting ready for baptisms. One church in Beijing has been baptizing about 400 people per year and this year is trending in the same direction. There are too many people to have baptisms during a normal service and special services are added to accommodate the crowds. It is always exciting to hear testimonies of how God has reached into individual lives to redeem, change, and transform individuals, families and communities. These stories are excluded from the normal news feeds.
Another important story is how the government will implement the new religious regulations. ChinaSource has always attempted to be balanced, accurate and respectful in our research and writing about China. The range and diversity of situations across China always makes this a challenge.
Since the new regulations went into effect February 1, we have been talking to dozens of believers from across China to understand the impact. We have found some places where churches have temporarily stopped meeting. We have found other places where there are still activities going on with over 1,000 participants. Understanding the diversity and direction of the government’s implementation will be a major focus of our work this year.
This month over half of our staff are traveling in China and Asia. Several staff and board members will be attending a research consultation on church growth in China. We are hoping to have a better understanding of the how, where and why to share broadly with those praying for and working in China.
At the beginning of the month the majority of our staff met together in Los Angeles for a planning meeting. Wherever we travel we hear how the content we provide is helping those who serve in China and with Chinese. One complaint we heard is that they wish we would do more. Our team meeting was focused on the most important things for ChinaSource to do this year and how we can go deeper and broader in our providing of key information for those serving China. The ChinaSource board will be meeting at the end of the month and reviewing the key projects and initiatives for this new season in ChinaSource’s development.
As we get ready to celebrate Easter we are thankful for the hope we have, the good news we can share, and the joyful life that results all because of what Jesus did.
Thanks for your prayers, support, fellowship, and partnership around what God is doing in China.
He is Risen!
News and Notes
We are offering a new ebook, 7 Trends Impacting Foreign Christians in China.
As a current ChinaSource subscriber you can download a copy for free using the coupon code:
For a limited time, the ebook is also available to new subscribers. Invite your friends to check out the ChinaSource website and consider subscribing to ChinaSource publications.
If you are serving in China, or making plans to do so, this is definitely something you will want to read.
ChinaSource Quarterly 2018 Spring Issue
Contextualization and the Chinese Church, guest edited by Jackson Wu
The 2018 spring issue of ChinaSource Quarterly was published earlier this month. Guest editor Jackson Wu writes in his editorial:
Conversations about contextualization often do not go far enough. Many people have a narrow perspective on contextualization supposing it merely refers to how we communicate or apply the biblical message. In fact, contextualization begins with interpretation. We are tempted either to oversimplify contextualization or to make it too complex. Effective contextualization is not primarily about methodology and strategy; rather, it concerns perspective. How do our cultural experiences cause us to read the Bible in fresh ways? How does a robust biblical perspective shed light on needs and values of culture?
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to effective contextualization is the frequent tendency to sharply dichotomize culture and the Bible. However, the Bible and culture are entwined for two reasons. First, God revealed himself through ancient, Near Eastern cultures. Second, God calls his people to embody the gospel in cultures throughout the world. In short, genuine biblical truth is not an abstraction. For these reasons, this current issue of ChinaSource Quarterly is dedicated to the topic of contextualization. The articles survey a range of topics relevant to contextualization among Chinese.
- Brent Fulton presented a paper entitled “Urbanization and the Church in China: A Doubled Edged Sword,” at the Urban Missions and Urban Transformation Consultation, Sabah Theological Seminary, March 15-17.
- On March 18 Brent Fulton spoke at Evangelical Community Church in Kowloon, Hong Kong.
- Joann Pittman is travelling in China this week with a group of students from Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma City. Their stops include Beijing, Xi’an, and Hong Kong.
Ways to Pray
- Pray for Chinese pastors and leaders as they navigate a new set of religious regulations. Pray that the government will allow believers to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (I Timothy 2:1-2).
- Give thanks for the recently completed staff team meeting. We have mapped out plans for the year and are moving forward to work out details.
- We have several staff traveling in Asia and China this month. Pray for good meetings with a variety of contacts.
- Pray for the research consortium meeting this month as they plan for the next step of interviews and surveys to understand church growth in China.
From the ChinaSource Quarterly:
- Pray for Han Chinese living among ethnic minorities for the purpose of giving them the gospel. Pray for unity, the ability to adjust to new living conditions and understanding of their worldview as they explain the gospel to them.
- Pray for Chinese theologians as they seek to develop contextualized, Chinese theology.
- Pray that foreign workers to China will carefully, with sensitivity and prayer, consider their role in helping with the contextualization of Chinese theology.
- Pray that those working with animistic peoples will be able to present the gospel in a contextualized way that makes sense to their listeners. Pray that those hearing the gospel will understand how Christ differs from their traditional gods.
- Pray for China’s younger generation whose worldview differs greatly from that of their elders and creates tensions as they try to balance conflicting cultural pressures.
- Pray that pastors, evangelists, and teachers will be able to present the gospel in a contextualized manner that directly speaks to peoples’ lives.
In Case You Missed It
A selection of recently published items:
- From Every Tribe and Language and People and Nation, ChinaSource Blog, February 23.
- Christian Olympians, ChinaSource Blog, February 26.
- Remembering Billy Graham in China, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), February 27.
- Billy Graham’s Legacy of Partnering, ChinaSource Blog, February 28.
- Lost and Love: A Film Review, ChinaSource Blog, March 2.
- Congress Is in Session, ChinaSource Blog, March 5.
- Pastoring Post-90s Christians, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), March 6.
- 3 Questions: The 2018 World Watch List, ChinaSource Blog, March 7.
- Newsletters as an Adventure?: A Book Review, ChinaSource Blog, March 9.
- We Write Books, Too, ChinaSource Blog, March 12.
- As the Migration Pendulum Swings: Challenges Faced by Rural and Urban Churches, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), March 13.
- History and Meaning, ChinaSource Blog, March 14.
- Funny or Beautiful?, ChinaSource Blog, March 16.
- Free eBook: 7 Trends Impacting Foreigners in China, ChinaSource Blog, March 19.
- Contextualization and the Chinese Church, ChinaSource Quarterly, March 19.
- Baptized at 102, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), March 20.
- Chinese Culture and Christian Stewardship, ChinaSource Blog, March 21.
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