New Considerations in the New Normal

It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”

(Lamentations 3:26, NIV)

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This year, the development of Christianity in China has come to a so-called “new normal.” The government has ordered the suspension of all forms of Sunday school and prohibited children from entering the church and participating in Christian gatherings. They stress that the State has the sole right to provide education.

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教会新常态

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过去近四十年,中国基督教的成长,主要体现在参加基督徒聚会的人数不断增长。随着聚会人数的增加,聚会的方式也有很大的变化:聚会的时间安排从比较随意的不定时聚集,到固定在星期天的主日崇拜。由于人数的增长,从早先基督徒开放家庭聚会,到基督徒联合出资租用适合的场地聚会,再到建立教会群体,聘请专职教会牧师;进一步再购买物业为教会会址,甚至购地建堂。而且,随着聚会常态化的发展和聘请牧师,教会的宗派立场也逐渐清晰,教牧的事奉也日趋正规,包括儿童和老人事工,跨文化宣教和社区福音工作等。虽然由于政治原因,家庭教会始终未能成为法定的社会团体,但三自教会和家庭教会在聚会模式等方面,却越来越接近,成为过去十多年中国基督徒发展的一大特色。

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The Chinese Church’s New Normal

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Over the past four decades, the number of worshippers in Chinese churches grew steadily. As church membership grew, the church services matured and developed. Irregular worship times then became established Sunday meetings. Meetings moved from homes to larger rented spaces. Full-time pastors were hired, and land was acquired for church buildings. The church ministries also expanded beyond Sunday services to include teaching for children, care for the elderly, cross-cultural missions and community outreach. These four became standard ministries in churches across China. Despite their differences in legal status, house churches and Three-Self churches followed a similar pattern of growth. They came to resemble each other both in format and range of ministries, especially in the past decade or more. 

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