The Lantern

The Internet: China’s Public Forum

Joann Pittman, someone who has been watching this closely, has this to say:

The story of the internet in China seems to be about the limits, controls and what Chinese netizens cannot access and cannot say. The reality is that there is a thriving Christian community online where believers are participating in conversations about what is going on in China and the world, discussing issues and engaging in debates, accessing theological training, offering encouragement and doing evangelism.

What actually occurs within China would surprise many. Christians have found the internet to be a place where they can thrive.

There are many exciting things occurring within China and the local Chinese church. Joann explores how Christians are using the internet in China in more detail in the current issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly. Click "China''s Online Christian Community" to read Joann''s article.

Here at ChinaSource there are exciting things occurring as well! We are pleased to welcome Joann Pittman as a Senior Associate of ChinaSource. Having edited ZG Briefs for the past decade and spoken at numerous ChinaSource events, Joann has played an invaluable role in the work of ChinaSource for quite some time. In her new role she will continue her responsibilities with ZG Briefs and Chinese Church Voices, will contribute to the ChinaSource blog, and will also serve as a member of our leadership team, helping to guide in the development of new products and services. In addition Joann will represent ChinaSource as an outside speaker and will be available to serve other partner organizations as she exercises her gifts in consulting and training. Having lived in China for more than 25 years, Joann''s keen insights have provided needed clarity in an environment that is often very difficult to decipher.

We asked Joann to share with us how ChinaSource has personally benefited her and her impressions on future work in China.

CS: How has ChinaSource benefited you during your time in China?

JP: I think the ChinaSource Journal (now the ChinaSource Quarterly) has been a particularly valuable resource, providing in depth and balanced analysis on the Church in China. I''ve also personally benefited from attending ChinaSource events, both in the US and in Asia, where I have had the chance to interact with folks involved in a wide variety of endeavors and enterprises in China. It has helped expand my horizons.

CS: How have others benefited from ChinaSource in the past and how do you see CS benefiting people going forward?

JP: I would guess that others have benefited in the same way I mention above. In addition, for those who are not directly involved in, or not "on the ground," so to speak, ChinaSource is a great resource for educating people on the dynamic and complex nature of the Church in China, and the issues involved in serving there.

CS: How important are collaborative efforts when working for/in China and the Chinese Church?

JP: I believe that collaborative efforts are essential. China is large and the needs are greattoo great for any one group or enterprise to meet.

CS: What do you see as the role of the international Christian community when considering serving China?

JP: I believe the international Christian community needs to adopt a posture of serving the Church (and I''m not implying that it isn''t). Unlike the early days of foreign Christian engagement, when the church was still quite down-trodden after the Cultural Revolution, and largely hidden from society, the church today is much more mature, confident, and is actively seeking a role within Chinese society. We need to listen to what the Church is saying, and seek to serve where they see that we can help.

CS: What do you see as your role in the years to come?

JP: One key role that I would like to play is helping the church in the West (particularly in the United States, where I am from) have a more balanced and accurate view of the church in China. So many of the images or impressions that abound in the West are outdated, rooted in testimonies and stories from another era. It''s almost impossible for outsiders to fathom how much China has changed in the last 20 years. I have had a front row seat to the changes, and I have a hard time fathoming it! To be sure the environment in which the church exists in China is a difficult one, but we need to move beyond seeing the church and Christians as being primarily victims. I love telling people, "you have been praying for the Church in China for years, decades, even; rejoice; your prayers are being answered."

A related role I see for myself (and this makes me feel old) is helping to train and equip the next generation of those who will serve in China.

Both of these are at the heart of what ChinaSource is so good at. I''m privileged and excited to be a part of their effort in the coming years.

Joann''s personal blog (Outside-in) can be found at You can also follow her on Twitter @jkpittman.

ChinaSource Team

ChinaSource Team

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

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