Engaging with information - then and now
Brent Fulton recently had a conversation with the China coordinator for a global ministry in which she thanked him for helping her make sense of China. Now we all know that it's really not possible for outsiders to truly make sense of China, but it is what we at ChinaSource seek to do, so her comment was encouraging since our mission is to "engage the Christian community with critical knowledge about China."
When ChinaSource was founded in the 1990's the internet was just becoming accessible to the general public. Email was just coming into vogue, and websites were little more than "online brochures." The shift to digital recording was underway, but sharing it online was beyond the technical capacity of most personal computers. The average internet user had little access to quality online content, whether written, audio, or video format. Engagement with an audience or readership required face-to-face meetings or conference calls.
As we all know, the digital landscape since then has changed drastically, and we have now entered the world of instant communication. Getting a message out is no longer about simply setting up a website, but it now requires engagement with readers via social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. These technological (and as a result, social) shifts have also taken place in China, where Chinese, including Christians, are also engaging in robust conversations online.
One of the results of this technological transformation is that there is now the potential for unprecedented connectedness within the Body of Christ.
The three-year strategic plan for ChinaSource is focused on utilizing these technological capabilities to fulfill our mission.
One Mission, One Brand, Multiple Platforms
So, how is ChinaSource engaging with the Christian community using the internet and social media? To borrow a formula from Deng Xiao-ping, we can call it "One Brand, Three Platforms."
This is the site where we post relevant and timely content through the ChinaSource blog. It's the home of the ChinaSource Quarterly which provides in-depth analysis of trends affecting China and the Chinese church. The archives of 12 years of the ChinaSource Journal are particularly valuable. Readers can also use the website to make online donations to ChinaSource.
ZGBriefs is a weekly e-newsletter that aggregates and links to the major news stories out of China in a given week. In addition to articles on politics, society, and economics, it also includes articles on religion and the church. The newsletter is also posted to a website. Go to Subscribe on our website. ChinaSource Senior Associate Joann Pittman has been editing this newsletter for the past 11 years.
Chinese Church Voices is where we post translations of articles and resources that are being produced by Chinese Christians and posted to Chinese Christian websites. This gives the global Christian community an opportunity to "listen in" on the issues that Chinese Christians themselves are discussing. For a summary of some of these issues, please see the post "Key Issues for the Church in China: A Local Perspective."
Linking these platforms together are the social media platforms Twitter and Facebook. We maintain two feeds on Twitter: The first is @ChinaSourceOrg, where we post links to articles on the ChinaSource website as well as to relevant and interesting content on other sites. This feed currently has nearly 900 followers.
The second is @ZG_Briefs, where we post links to some of the articles that will be included in the weeks' ZGBriefs. Linking to outside sources is a great way to generate interest in our content and resources, as well as engaging in conversations. This feed currently has nearly 700 followers.
We also maintain a Facebook page, ChinaSource China, where we post links to our content and engage friends and followers in conversations. If you are on Facebook, we'd love to have you become a part of our community there. We would also appreciate your help in spreading the word about ChinaSource to people and friends in your social networks.
Moving beyond our own platforms, ChinaSource has recently had opportunities to partner with other organizations and websites to inform and engage the public concerning the Church in China.
In February, Christianity Today published a commentary piece by Brent titled "China Isn't Trying to Wipe Out Christianity."
In March, Joann was interviewed by the Faith Radio Network in Minnesota about the church in China. It can be found online here.
Then In April, Joann conducted a workshop at The Gospel Coalition National Conference, titled "Misconceptions About the Chinese Church."
Through these online platforms and networks we are providing the Christian community with information needed to collaborate and serve the Chinese Church and society. We are helping ministry leaders make sense of China by providing and highlighting resources, updating outdated images, providing and honest look at what is and is not working, and by connecting people.
We are grateful for your interest in and support of our work. Please pray with us that God will use these new internet and social media platforms to help spread a vision for what God is doing in China and through His church.
The ChinaSource Team
- Pray that God will use internet and social media platforms to help spread a vision for what God is doing in China and through His church.
- Pray that Christians in China wisely use the social media available to them to encourage and strengthen one another.
- Pray that the potential for interconnectedness in the body of Christ results in unity and a vibrant testimony.
- Pray that the church in China remains focused on Christ in the midst of the technological and social changes taking place.
- Pray for the ChinaSource team that we will effectively develop our capacity for using social media tools.
Here's how you can join our social network:
- Subscribe to receive new content by email and RSS from ChinaSource,
- Follow @ChinaSourceOrg and @ZG_Briefs on Twitter.
- "Like" or "Friend" us on Facebook.
Are you enjoying a cup of good coffee or fragrant tea while reading the latest ChinaSource post? Consider donating the cost of that “cuppa” to support our content so we can continue to serve you with the latest on Christianity in China.