Is Church a leisure club or a mission training school?

是俱樂部,還是宣教學院?(董家驊)2017.09.18

Link to Chinese article: 中文: http://behold.oc.org/?p=34504

Author: Pastor Dong Jia-Hua

Translation of article in “Behold” magazine by Keith Ranger

He says – “I recently attended a Conference of workers from a number of different places in North America on how to do lasting and effective evangelistic ministry in the lives of international students, especially in the area of being up to date and not behind the times in reaching out to those from China. The expressed need was for relevant and engaging methodology and really making an effort to keep up to date with ‘where these people are now coming from’ in terms of their expectations and priorities. Things can, and do, change so fast! We cannot, and must not, live in the past!

Continue reading “Is Church a leisure club or a mission training school?”

中国教会简介 (The Church in China – An Introduction)

This is a translation of the article The Church in China – An Introduction.

本文章是一篇对中国教会的简介,旨在帮助在海外信主的基督徒回国前提前了解中国教会的状况。

很多中国人误以为基督教只是近年来才传到中国。实际上基督信仰传到中国的最早记录可以追溯到唐朝,准确地说是公元635年i。要了解基督教会当时在中国的状况,我们需要先了解欧洲和中东教会的情况。

耶稣升天之后,使徒和信徒开始了早期教会活动。新约中的《使徒行者》记录了这段历史。 到了一世纪中晚期,基督教会遭到来自犹太人和罗马帝国的逼迫。直到公元312年当时的罗马皇帝康斯坦丁成为基督徒并建立罗马教会ii,逼迫才停止。基督教由原来的非法、被逼迫转而成为合法、受保护的国教。教会也不再躲藏,转而在罗马社会中占有非常重要的地位。 罗马统治了西方社会也影响了从中东到英国的社会和文化。公元1054年iii,教会在政治上和神学上产生了分歧,导致教会分裂。西罗马教会继续接受罗马的统治,被称为罗马天主教会,而东正教会在康斯坦丁堡(位于土耳其)确立了统治地位。这些教会都宣称自己直接受权于上帝。圣经只有拉丁文或希腊文的版本(当时禁止翻译成其他通俗的语言),也只能让经过特殊训练的神父阅读。

到公元1500,教会自行添加了很多额外有悖于圣经的传统和惯例。 在1500年代,马丁●路德等人开始改革教会,回归圣经教导。然而他们却遭到教会驱逐,从而建立了新的教会,也就是新教。

这些事件最终确立了现今的基督教三大分支:罗马天主教、东正教和新教。天主教和东正教都有各自的单一领袖和清晰的分级制度,这两个分支各自也相对统一,其教会遍及世界。 新教秉承最终权威来自于圣经而不是人,这一点导致在教会管理和神学观点上的进一步分歧,也就产生了不同支派(例如国教、长老会、浸信会等)

这也解释了为什么到中国最早的三个宣教浪潮都是天主教发起的。新教徒用了大概300年的时间才在欧洲站稳脚跟,然后才开始将福音带到世界上的其他地方。尽管新教最晚传到中国,但影响却最大,而且中国的新教教会要比天主教大得多。

公元635年iv,一个叫 阿罗本(Alopen)的聂斯脱里派(景教,Nestorian)教徒(天主教的一个分支)来到中国并在长安见了唐朝皇帝唐太宗 (唐太宗李世民)。 他向皇帝展示了一本亚述(叙利亚),语的圣经,皇帝看不懂,就叫他留在中国,翻译圣经并讲授基督教。西安的石林里有一块刻于公元781年v的石碑,记录了基督教的福音如何在公元635年传到了中国。不幸的是,唐太宗死后,之后继任的皇帝不喜欢景教教徒,公元845年vi ,景教教徒被驱逐出中国,中国的信徒也被迫放弃信仰。

1245年到1253年vii间,教皇伊诺森四世(Pope Innocent IV)差派方济会宣教士(Franciscan missionaries)到中国,之后耶稣会士(the Jesuits)在1580年代viii到达中国。 这两组人都是罗马天主教的分支。 耶酥会宣教士大多是科学家,工作效率很高,他们为了方便直接交流而花时间学习中文。利玛窦(Matteo Ricci) 和南怀仁( Ferdinand Verbiest)是很有名的耶稣会宣教士,甚至为当时的皇帝当参谋和教师。

第一批新教宣教士于1800年代ix早期到达中国。当时进入中国非常难。根据皇帝的法令,只有外国商人才能进入中国。而且也只能每年住在广州几个月,剩下的时间住在澳门。 澳门当时是葡萄牙的殖民地,只允许天主教的宣教士进入。早期新教宣教士只能为商人做翻译才能进入中国。这一点后来也使中国人误解新教宣教士的工作,把他们和不诚实的商人联系到一起。

两次鸦片战争和随之的不平等条约签订后,中国开始向外国人敞开大门,宣教士可以住在中国、传福音、建立教会。很多早期教会很大程度上依赖外国宣教士的支持和管理。其中一个非常有名的宣教士是戴德生(James Hudson Taylor),他建立了中国内地会,有1000多名西方宣教士通过该机构在中国内地侍奉。 1800年代晚期到1900年代早期,中国经历了内战、自然灾害以及很多其他问题,处境非常艰难。为了将福音带到中国这些宣教士也经受了很多磨难。到1949年为止,中国的新教教徒不到一百万人。

经历多年内战之后,1949年毛泽东宣布新中国成立。不久之后,包括宣教士在内的所有外国人都被要求离开中国。留下中国教会自行发展。1951年,吴耀宗 发起了三自爱国运动(TSPM, Three Self Patriotic Movement)x, 代表政府管理教会。“三自“ 代表的是“自治”,“自养”,“自传”。 三自爱国运动的目的是让中国教会脱离外国影响,让教会与政府的政策保持一致。

1966年文革开始, 三自爱国运动被禁止,教堂被迫关闭、接受搜查、挪作他用。三自运动的领袖和牧师被捕,送到劳改营进行劳动改造。教会从公众的视线中消失,但是勇敢的基督徒继续私下聚会鼓励彼此。 这些“地下”教会遭到逼迫,基督徒不得不隐藏信仰,生活很艰难。 圣经、赞美诗和所有基督教书籍都被没收焚毁。基督徒背下部分圣经,在聚会中背诵整篇经文来彼此鼓励。 尽管不为公众所知,教会在这一时期仍然继续增长扩大。

1978年邓小平成为中国领导人,开始实行改革开放政策。1979年,在丁光训的带领下三自爱国运动重新开始。1980年中国基督教协会(Chinese Christian Council, CCC)成立,联络三自爱国运动和新教教会。这两个组织被成为“两会”xi。其功能就是代表政府来监管教会。1980年代,教会慢慢回归教堂开始礼拜。牧师从劳改营中释放,有些人开始作为三自教会牧师侍奉。中国基督教协会也开始办培训课程培训新牧师。

1949中国基督徒的人数估计不到一百万人。而如今(2016)该数字大概在七千万到一亿之间xii。 其中大概两千八百万人参加三自教会,剩下的则去没有注册的家庭教会。

政府曾经想要关闭所有在文革时期建立起来的家庭教会,让所有基督徒都去三自教会。然而他们却面临两个主要障碍:

首先,三自教会数量有限,难以容纳日益增长的基督徒人数。在经历逼迫时,基督徒人数反而快速增长,人们想去教会,促使教会迅速扩大。起初,政府并不相信这一快速增长的势头,不允许建立新教堂或教会。聚会点数量有限,不可能让所有中国的基督徒和慕道友在三自教会聚会。大部分三自教会一直以来会众都比较多,有时一堂礼拜有上千人聚在一起参加。直到现在,礼拜一结束人们就马上离开,为的是给等在门外参加下一堂礼拜的人腾地方。在官方注册地址外聚会是非法的,因此建立关系并提供需要的牧养和团契会花上好几年的时间,很多人会在这些大教会里感到迷失,找不到归属感。

第二个障碍是缺乏信任。文革期间,政府曾经利用三自教会的组织结构确认并逮捕或迫害基督徒和教会领袖。就算是1979年之后,政府对三自教会的掌控和介入也很明显,政府经常表示教会必须由党领导,服务于党的利益。这点对于相信基督是教会的头的人来说是不可能的。在1980年代,很多三自教会和基督教委员会的领袖,甚至牧师都不是基督徒而是政府雇员,他们的工作是监督教会,向政府汇报情况。尽管近年来这一情况已经有所改变,大部分牧师都是福音派,但是很多基督徒还是很难信任三自教会,所以选择继续在没注册的家庭教会聚会、敬拜。有些地方的家庭教会和三自教会有共识,可以接受彼此,会众也参加两个教会。但很遗憾的是,在很多其他地方这两类教会之间还是有很多怀疑和不信任,导致两类教会各自为政。

起初,大部分家庭教会都在农村,参加的人都是没什么文化的农民。几个很大的家庭教会组织在中国不同地区发展起来,有些有上千基督徒参加。近年来,城市的教会发展非常迅速,重心也已经移到了城市里的教会。随着中国城市的生活水平不断提高,参加城市教会的人都是受过教育的人,比农村的弟兄姐妹有更多资源。很多城市教会能够支持全职牧师,租用聚会场地。尽管因为没有官方地位,牧师的工作不受国家认可,聚会地点也不能注册。

政府让家庭教会要不和三自教会注册,要不解散,因此家庭教会在官方上是非法的。实际上要注册很难甚至是不可能的。大多时候家庭教会只要满足三个标准就允许其继续xiv。 第一,教会规模要小,会众人数只能是30-40人;第二, 不能有任何外国人参与其中;第三,不能评论政治或批判政府。在另一层面上,当地政府的态度会影响该地区家庭教会的自由度。

尽管神学培训越来越多,但因为增长迅速,以及教会需要保持较小的规模,所以家庭教会仍急缺受过培训的带领者和牧师。很多教会的带领人都是没有任何神学培训的弟兄姊妹,他们有的是侍奉神的愿望和对教会的热心。很多教会领袖是刚信主不久的基督徒,对圣经还有很多不解,可是现在却要开始教导别人。有些人可能已经带领了很多年,养成了很多不好的习惯,他们可能疏于牧养教会或者在带领上要求严苛、颐指气使。很多带领者都是超负荷工作,身心疲惫。

家庭教会很难满足人们对教会的所有期待。没有经过培训的牧师可能讲道冗长乏味,甚至是毫无帮助,不符合圣经。在中国的很多地方,有音乐才能的人很少,聚会点可能需要把声音控制到最低以防打扰邻居(他们有可能会向警察举报教会)。在这种情况下,礼拜中敬拜音乐的质量可能会让人大失所望,无法受到鼓舞。再者,由于缺乏场地和合适的人,教会里可能没有主日学或儿童事工,家长们在礼拜中可能需要一直抱着孩子坐在自己腿上。可能40 个人会挤在一间客厅里,紧闭窗户来降低音量,甚至是在炎热的夏季也是如此。

这些因素使在海外教会待过的人感到很难适应,因为他们所期待的是由受过培训有经验的带领人所带领的成熟教会。 中国留学生经历的可能是直接表达出的关心和爱护。但是回到中国,国人并不习惯公开表达情感,而是以间接的方式表达爱与关心。这可能让中国的海归感觉不到关爱。

出于安全的考虑,教会之间很难彼此联结、相互合作,所以很多带领人在面对教会里的艰难问题时往往是独自作战。有时因为彼此隔绝,教会领袖可能会曲解圣经,也可能会发展一些不正统的神学观念。

中国也有邪教存在,有些专门针对家庭教会。邪教成员会混入家庭教会,想方设法抢夺会员或者分裂教会xv。家庭教会无法去公安机构举报,而且因为家庭教会之间很少互相沟通,邪教成员能转到下一间教会开始新的循环。 因此,家庭教会在接受新成员方面可能会很谨慎。

尽管存在这些问题,中国的家庭教会仍然是基督肢体的活跃代表。虽然遭受逼迫,没有西方教会能够享有的很多资源和特权,但是大部分基督徒对待信仰和侍奉上帝都非常真诚。因为在每日与上帝同行上彼此鼓励,中国信徒之间的团契交通非常深厚且有意义。

在中国找教会最好的方式是通过介绍。如果你探究了解了一间教会也认为教会教导的是真理,能够恰当地爱教会成员,那么就委身这间教会并定期参加教会活动。家庭教会就像一个大家庭,每人都要参与、帮忙。想办法用你的恩赐和才能去侍奉教会和教会成员。你在中国找到的教会和在海外参加的教会会大不相同。前者在很多方面似乎都不如后者。但是你需要做的是去爱、接受和侍奉。尽量不要去比较、批评或抱怨,这样既帮不了你也帮不了教会。记住你会经历一段艰难的转换期,所以对自己多些耐心,和你在海外的基督徒朋友和导师保持联系,直到生活安顿下来,在中国找到教会为止。

如果你想进一步了解中国基督教历史中的具体人物和事件,可以在线访问“华人基督教史人物辞典”。英文:http://www.bdcconline.net/en/   中文:http://www.bdcconline.net/zh-hans/

 

[1] Daniel H. Bays, A New History of Christianity in China (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 7.

[1] Tim Dowley and Pat Alexander, eds., The History of Christianity, Rev Sub edition (Oxford, England ; Batavia, Ill., USA: Chariot Victor Pub, 1990).

[1] Patheos, ‘Religion Library: Eastern Orthodoxy’, Patheos: Hosting the Conversation on Faith, 2008, http://www.patheos.com/Library/Eastern-Orthodoxy.

[1] Bays, A New History of Christianity in China.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Ibid., 12.

[1] Bays, A New History of Christianity in China.

[1] Ibid., 43.

[1] Ibid., 164.

[1] Ibid., 189.

[1] Louis Bush and Brent Fulton, China’s Next Generation: New China, New Church, New World. (China Source, 2014), http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00I3NWT00?keywords=China’s%20Next%20Generation%3A%20New%20China%2C%20New%20Church%2C%20New%20World.&qid=1456715781&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1; Kukmin Daily, ‘China Will Have the World’s Largest Christian Population in 2030’, 22 June 2016, http://www.kukmindaily.co.kr/article/view.asp?page=&gCode=7111&arcid=0010724477&code=71111101.

[1] Kukmin Daily, ‘China Will Have the World’s Largest Christian Population in 2030’.

[1] Bush and Fulton, China’s Next Generation: New China, New Church, New World.

[1] Ibid.

 

 

 

 

 

The Church in China – An Introduction

A Chinese translation of this article is available here

This article is intended to be a brief introduction to the church in China for Chinese who have become Christians while overseas and want to understand something about the church in China before returning there.

A common misunderstanding by many Chinese today is that Christianity only came to China very recently. In actual fact the first documented arrival of the Christian faith to China is during the Tang dynasty in 635AD[i]. In order to understand what was happening in China, we must first understand what was happening to the Christian church in Europe and the Middle East.

The early church began with the Apostles and early believers after Jesus ascended to Heaven.   The New Testament, and especially the book of Acts, gives us this history. By the mid to late first century, the Christian church was experiencing persecution both from the Jews and from the Roman Empire. This state of persecution continued until 312AD when the Roman emperor Constantine become a Christian and established the Roman church[ii]. Christianity went from being illegal and persecuted to being legal, protected and effectively the religion of the state. The church came out of hiding and took a very prominent place in Roman society. Rome ruled the Western world and influenced society and culture from the Middle East to Britain.

In 1054AD[iii], political and theological disagreements that had developed in the church caused a split. The western Roman church continued to be led from Rome and was called the Roman Catholic Church, and the Eastern Orthodox Church established itself under leadership based in Constantinople (in Turkey). Both these churches insisted that their leadership came directly from God. The Bible was only available in Latin or Greek (translation into common languages was forbidden) and could only be read by specially trained priests.

By 1500AD, the church had added a lot of its own extra-Biblical traditions and practices that contradicted the Bible. In the 1500’s, men such as Martin Luther set out to reform the church and return it to the teaching of the Bible. However, they were expelled from the church and formed a new church, which came to be known as the Protestant Church.

These events are what led to the three main strands of today’s Christianity: the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Protestant Churches. The Catholic and Orthodox churches each have a single leader and clear hierarchy. They are fairly unified and each identify as a single unit spread around the world. Protestants hold the Bible, not man, as the final authority, and this has resulted in further divisions on issues of church government and theology that have brought about different denominations (e.g. Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist etc.).

This also explains why the first three waves of Christian mission to China were Catholic missions. The Protestants took around 300 years to establish themselves in Europe before they began to look at taking the gospel message into other parts of the world. Although they were the last to come to China, they had the greatest impact and the Protestant church in China is much larger than the Catholic church.

In 635AD[iv], a Nestorian (a subgroup of Catholics) Christian by the name of Alopen came to China and met the Tang emperor Tai Zong in Chang An. He presented the emperor with a copy of the Bible in Syriac, which the emperor could not read. The emperor asked Alopen to stay in China, translate the Bible and teach about Christianity. There is a stone monument in the Museum of Stone Tablets in Xi’an, which was carved in 781AD[v]. It tells the story of how the Christian gospel came to China in 635AD. Unfortunately, after Tai Zong died future emperors did not look kindly on the Nestorians and in 845AD[vi] foreign Nestorians were expelled and Chinese believers were forced to give up their faith.

Between 1245 and 1253[vii] Pope Innocent IV sent Franciscan missionaries to China followed by the Jesuits who arrived from 1580s[viii]. Both these groups are sub-groups of the Roman Catholic Church. The Jesuits were particularly effective scientists and missionaries and took the time to learn Chinese so they could communicate directly. Men like Matteo Ricci and Ferdinand Verbiest became famous, even working as advisors and tutors to the emperor.

The first Protestant missionaries arrived in the early 1800s[ix]. It was very difficult to get access to China. By the emperor’s decree, the only foreigners allowed in China were traders and businessmen. These could also only live in Guangzhou for a few months of the year and had to spend the rest of the time in Macao. Macao was a colony of Portugal and the only missionaries allowed there were Catholics. The only way the early Protestant missionaries could get to China was to work as translators for the traders and businessmen. This created a lot of problems later, as Chinese misunderstood the work of Protestant missionaries, seeing them as connected to the dishonest traders.

After two opium wars and the resulting unequal treaties, China became open to foreigners and missionaries were able to live in China, evangelise and build churches. Many of these early churches relied heavily on support and management by the foreign missionaries. One very famous missionary was James Hudson Taylor who founded the China Inland Mission, which had more than 1000 Western missionaries ministering in inland China. The late 1800s and early 1900s were a very difficult time for China with civil wars, natural disasters and other problems. These missionaries endured many hardships in order to bring the gospel to China. By 1949, there were just under 1 million Protestant Christians in China.

In 1949, after many years of civil war, Mao Ze Dong proclaimed the People’s Republic of China. Shortly afterwards all foreigners, including missionaries, were asked to leave. The Chinese church was left to stand on its own. In 1951, Wu Yao Zong formed the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM)[x], which on behalf of the government took over management of the churches. “Three self” stands for “self-governance”, “self-support” and “self-propagation”. The goal of the Three Self Patriotic Movement was to break connections with foreign influence and to bring the church into alignment with government policy.

In 1966 the Cultural Revolution began. The TSPM was disbanded and all churches were closed, ransacked and then used for other purposes.   TSPM leaders and pastors were arrested and sent to labour camps. The church disappeared from public view, but brave Christians continued to meet secretly to encourage each other. This ‘underground’ church was persecuted and life was difficult for Christians, who had to keep their faith a secret. Bibles, hymnbooks and all Christian literature were confiscated and burned. Some Bibles were hidden, copied by hand and then shared around. Christians memorised parts of the Bible and would recite whole passages in meetings to encourage each other. The Church continued to grow during this time, although it was largely invisible to the public eye.

In 1978, Deng Xiao Ping became the leader of China and began a program of opening China to the rest of the world. In 1979, the Three Self Patriotic Movement TSPM was restarted under the leadership of Ding Guang Xun. In 1980 the China Christian Council CCC was established to liaise between the TSPM and protestant churches. The two organizations are known as “Liang Hui”[xi]. Their role was to again oversee the church on behalf of the government. Through the 1980s, church buildings were slowly returned to churches and services began again. Pastors were released from labour camps and some of them agreed to serve as pastors under the TSPM. Seminaries were started by the CCC to train new pastors.

In 1949 there were less than 1 million Christians in China. Today (2016) it is estimated there are 70-100 million[xii]. Of these, around 28 million[xiii] attend the TSPM churches and the rest attend unregistered house churches.

The government sought to close down the house churches that had started during the Cultural Revolution and to bring all the Christians under the TSPM churches. However, they faced two main barriers:

Firstly, there were far too few TSPM churches to fit the greatly expanded number of Christians. The number of Christians had grown dramatically under persecution and now churches were bursting with people wanting to attend. The government did not want to acknowledge this growth and initially refused to allow any new churches to be built or established. With limited meeting points it just wasn’t possible for all of China’s Christians and those who were exploring faith to be able to meet in TSPM churches. Most TSPM churches had (and still have) large congregations with sometimes more than a thousand people crammed into each service. To this day, at the end of a service people leave quickly to make way for the next congregation, which is waiting outside. Since it is illegal to meet outside of officially registered premises, it can take years to build relationships that provide needed fellowship, and many people feel lost and overwhelmed in these large and impersonal churches.

The second barrier was a lack of trust. During the Cultural Revolution, the government had used the TSPM structure to identify and then arrest or persecute Christians and church leaders. Even after 1979, government control and interference in TSPM churches was obvious and the government regularly makes the point that the church must come under party leadership and serve party interests. This is problematic for those who believe that Christ is the head of the church. In the 1980s many TSPM, CCC leaders and even pastors were not actually Christians but were government employees placed in positions to monitor and report on what was happening. Although this has changed in recent years with the majority of pastors now being evangelical, many Christians find it difficult to trust the TSPM and so chose to continue to meet and worship in unregistered house groups. In some places there is mutual acceptance and understanding between house churches and the TSPM with members attending both groups. However, sadly in many places suspicion and lack of trust keep these two groups very separate.

At its beginning the house church movement was largely based in rural areas and made up of uneducated farmers. Several large networks of house churches developed in different parts of China, some of them including thousands of Christians. More recently, there has been dramatic growth in the cities and the centre of gravity has moved to the urban church. The standard of living in China’s cities has improved and these city churches are made up of educated people with more resources than their rural counterparts. Many urban churches are able to support a full-time pastor and rent a facility for their meetings, although because they have no official status the pastor’s job is not recognised by the state and the meeting location cannot be registered as a church.

House churches are officially illegal, with the government calling all such groups to either register with the TSPM or to disband. In practice it can be difficult or impossible to register, and in most cases house churches are tolerated as long as they meet three criteria[xiv]. Firstly, they need to be small with only 30-40 people; secondly, they should have no foreign involvement; and thirdly, they should avoid making political comments or criticising the government. At another level, the attitude of local authorities will affect how much freedom house churches in each area will be allowed.

Due to rapid growth and the need to have small numbers in meetings and despite the increasing availability of seminary training, there is still a shortage of trained leaders and pastors in the house churches. Many churches are led by brothers or sisters with no training at all – just a desire to serve God and a passion for the church. Many leaders have only been Christians a short time themselves and may be unsure of the Bible, even though they now have to teach others. Some have been leading for many years and may have developed bad habits, they may be lax on pastoral issues or demanding and bossy in their leadership. Many of them suffer from overwork and become burnt-out.

It is often hard for house churches to provide everything that people have come to expect from a church. Untrained pastors may preach long, boring or even unhelpful and unbiblical sermons. In many places in China, people with musical ability are rare and the meeting location may require keeping noise to a minimum to avoid disturbing neighbours (who may report the church to the police). In this case, the quality of worship music during the service may be disappointing and discouraging. Again, because of a lack of space and suitable people, there may be no Sunday school or children’s ministry and parents may be expected to hold their children on their laps during long services.   Forty people may be crammed into a small living room with the windows closed to keep the sound in, even during the stifling heat of summer.

These factors make it difficult for those who have spent time in churches overseas and have expectations of established churches with trained and experienced leaders. A Chinese student overseas may have experienced a lot of overt care and love that was directly communicated to them. Back in China, Chinese don’t feel comfortable with overt expressions of emotion and will often express love and concern in an indirect manner. This may lead the Chinese returnee to feel they are not loved or cared for.

Due to security concerns, it is difficult for churches to connect and cooperate, so many leaders find themselves on their own when grappling with difficult issues in their churches. Sometimes, in isolation, their own understanding of the Bible may become warped and they may develop some unorthodox theology.

There are a number of cults that exist in China and particularly target the house churches. Cult members infiltrate churches and seek to steal members or split the church[xv]. House churches are unable to go to the authorities and because few house churches communicate with each other the cult member is able to move on to another church and start the cycle again. For this reason, house churches can be cautious about accepting new members.

In spite of these problems, the house churches in China are vibrant examples of the body of Christ. Functioning under persecution and stripped of many of the resources and privileges enjoyed by the Western church, most Christians are very sincere about their faith and service to God. Fellowship between Chinese believers is deep and meaningful as they encourage each other in their daily walk.

The best way to find a church in China is to go through an introduction. Once you have investigated and decided that the church teaches the truth and appropriately loves it’s members, then be committed to it and attend regularly. House churches are like families where everyone is expected to help out. Look for ways to serve the church and its members using your talents and abilities. The church you find in China is going to be very different to the church you attended overseas. In many ways it may seem inferior.   However your role is to love, accept and serve. Try not to compare, criticize and complain, as this won’t help you or the church. Remember that you are going through a difficult time of transition, so be patient with yourself and stay connected to your Christian friends and mentors overseas until you settle into life and church in China.

For further information about specific people and events in the history of Christianity in China please go to the online ‘Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity’ English: http://www.bdcconline.net/en/  Chinese: http://www.bdcconline.net/zh-hans/

 © Thriving Turtles, 2016. www.thrivingturtles.org


[i] Daniel H. Bays, A New History of Christianity in China (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 7.

[ii] Tim Dowley and Pat Alexander, eds., The History of Christianity, Rev Sub edition (Oxford, England?; Batavia, Ill., USA: Chariot Victor Pub, 1990).

[iii] Patheos, ‘Religion Library: Eastern Orthodoxy’, Patheos: Hosting the Conversation on Faith, 2008, http://www.patheos.com/Library/Eastern-Orthodoxy.

[iv] Bays, A New History of Christianity in China.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid., 12.

[viii] Bays, A New History of Christianity in China.

[ix] Ibid., 43.

[x] Ibid., 164.

[xi] Ibid., 189.

[xii] Louis Bush and Brent Fulton, China’s Next Generation: New China, New Church, New World. (China Source, 2014), http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00I3NWT00?keywords=China’s%20Next%20Generation%3A%20New%20China%2C%20New%20Church%2C%20New%20World.&qid=1456715781&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1; Kukmin Daily, ‘China Will Have the World’s Largest Christian Population in 2030’, 22 June 2016, http://www.kukmindaily.co.kr/article/view.asp?page=&gCode=7111&arcid=0010724477&code=71111101.

[xiii] Kukmin Daily, ‘China Will Have the World’s Largest Christian Population in 2030’.

[xiv] Bush and Fulton, China’s Next Generation: New China, New Church, New World.

[xv] Ibid.