The Lantern

Responding to the New Normal

Events over this past year suggest that, for those serving in China, the days ahead will likely be anything but “business as usual.” In this issue of The Lantern we look at how ChinaSource is responding to these changes by encouraging those who serve to “understand the times” and by identifying opportunities for equipping the church in China to face what may lie ahead. For further details on ChinaSource’s work in 2016 please see our annual report.

Brent Fulton

China’s new Foreign NGO Law goes into effect January 1, 2017. It is still not entirely clear how the new law will specifically affect Christian organizations operating in China. What is certain, however, is that these ministries are facing a new day.

The new NGO law is one of many developments over the past year that signal a significant shift in the official stance toward foreigners in China. These developments are not entirely unexpected, given the overall tightening that has characterized China since 2012. Nevertheless, they do suggest that those serving in China need to seriously rethink their approach.

How to serve in a way that encourages the growth and impact of the church, on the one hand, while being wise to the changing political environment on the other, is the challenge facing the global church as it engages with China.

Over the past two decades ChinaSource has witnessed numerous policy shifts, as well as remarkable new opportunities, as China has continued along its path toward reform. This experience has honed ChinaSource’s ability to identify significant trends affecting ministry in China. Putting today’s developments into this larger context, ChinaSource is able to pinpoint both the potential pitfalls as well as new openings for ministry posed by the current situation.

Here are a few snapshots of how ChinaSource is currently serving and where we hope to make a difference in 2017:

  • Content: ChinaSource facilitates much-needed dialog with Chinese believers and among those serving in China. Much of this dialog takes place daily through ChinaSource’s online publications. Over the past year our total readership has increased 48%, and we’ve seen a 36% jump in the number of people accessing our web site.
  • Research: ChinaSource and its partners have been looking in-depth at the priorities and expectations of China’s Christian leaders, as well as the dynamics of cross-cultural collaboration in their working with organizations and churches outside China.
  • Conferences: Our research has provided the fuel for three major conferences this year involving over 50 organizations and dozens of believers from China. In the days ahead, we will disseminate the outcomes of these gatherings, further stimulating discussion about how the church in China and the global church can collaborate effectively. 
  • Thought Leadership: Through Christian and secular media channels we provide an objective, balanced voice on the church and ministry in China. Christianity Today, The Economist, The Gospel Coalition, and Faith Radio Network are some of the media organizations that have featured commentary by members of the ChinaSource team during the past year.
  • ChinaSource Institute provides online courses, consultations, and training to a variety of organizations and churches, large and small, enabling them strengthen their own contributions to China and its church.
  • Consulting: As the impact of China’s new Foreign NGO Law becomes clearer, we are being called upon to help guide organizations engaged in China to formulate a response.
  • Faith and Generosity in China Initiative: It is imperative, now more than ever, that China ministry be both led and supported by Chinese Christians. ChinaSource provides resources to encourage biblical stewardship in churches and among Christian business and community leaders. In the coming year we will accelerate our work in this area even as we seek to turn the long-term operations of the initiative over to local believers.

For further details on ChinaSource’s work in 2016 please see our latest annual report.

As a nonprofit organization ChinaSource relies on the generosity of our readers and those whom we serve for support. We invite you to consider making a year-end gift to ChinaSource.

News and Notes

  • Brent Fulton preached November 13 and 20 at Evangelical Community Church in Hong Kong.
  • On the Nov 26, 27 weekend, Hannah Lau spoke to the youth group and Sunday services at Morrison Chapel in Macau.
  • Joann Pittman spoke to a consortium of international student ministry groups at the University of Minnesota on December 4.
  • Brent Fulton and Joann Pittman are the presenters for the December 2016 Global Issues Update: “China’s New NGO Law.” The podcast is available to members of Missio Nexus.

Ways to Pray

  • Give thanks for ChinaSource’s faithful supporters, who serve throughout the year–praying for the ministry and giving toward the financial needs of ChinaSource.
  • Our second ChinaSource Institute online course, “The Church in China Today,” is in the final stages of production. Ask the Lord to use this course to equip many for service in China when it is released next year.
  • Lift up Chinese Christians who are partnering in the Faith and Generosity in China Initiative. (For further details, listen to the latest edition of ChinaSource Conversations.
  • China’s new Foreign NGO Law goes into effect January 1, 2017. Pray for the ChinaSource team as they work with organizations to assess the new law’s impact on ministry and to formulate an appropriate response.
  • Pray that ChinaSource’s year-end needs will be met.

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ChinaSource Team

ChinaSource Team

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