Protestantism and the Future of China

The article translated below is from a Chinese website called Urban Mission (jidutu123.com). In it the author ponders what role Protestantism can play in the future development of China. He begins by talking about the transitional nature of China’s current social and political systems and where China’s current reforms may or may not be headed. He then draws on the writings of German sociologist Max Weber to understand the current situation in China today, to the point of comparing contemporary Chinese society with the German Weimar Republic. Finally, he argues that the main contribution Protestantism can make to the development of China is constitutional government.

It’s important to note that many Christians writing about Christianity in China these days do so from an academic social science perspective. While it’s a perspective that many in the west are unfamiliar (and perhaps uncomfortable) with, it’s still important for us to listen in on this particular conversation.

haidianchurch

Protestantism and the Future of China

Tremendous political and social reforms are taking place in China. The current round of reforms is sometimes believed to be the continuation of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms. In fact, according to the view of economist Zhang Jun of Fudan University, reform of the economic system had already been finalized after Deng Xiaoping’s inspection tour of the south in 1992. However, because of Deng’s “do not argue” stance, political reform was temporarily shelved.

The result is a “transitional” political system: one that is not yet a modernized system of government, and no longer a Soviet system or the system in place during the Cultural Revolution.

According to popular perception, this type of system is designed to benefit influential officials, or those in control (权贵体系). In other words, a small number of people rely on their power to obtain resources; they exploit the market to get rich. This highlights the incomplete nature of the Deng-era reforms. The current reforms of Zeng Qinghong (曾庆红) and Xi Jinping (习近平) are to a large extent a new set of reforms, as opposed to a continuation of Deng’s reforms.

‪The starting point for Deng’s reforms was the system in place during the Cultural Revolution. While it is true that there are still voices that harken back to the pre-Cultural Revolution era, they are few and lack influence. What is true is that those governing society, that is, those with vested interests, certainly do not want a return to the old system of central planning. That system benefits no one.

The power to block political reform lies in the hands of those people who benefit the most within the incomplete system of Deng’s political reforms. Zeng and Xi’s new overhauling reforms are presently being carried out with uncommon authority and political wisdom. Even though in the public domain it is very difficult to see these “being carried out,” however, to those in an academic or political “vocation,” the speed at which these are “being carried out” is not at all slow.

‪Furthermore, during this period of political modernization, the Chinese society and economy are rapidly integrating with the international systems. This should also facilitate modernization. The national slogan of the previous decade was “harmonious society and new countryside.” In this decade, the national slogan has been replaced with “the Chinese Dream and new urbanization.” The former, due to its having specific, practical indicators that could be manipulated, turned into a poisoned institution of bloated and embarrassing social burdens. Looking at the current “Chinese Dream” slogan, it can hopefully detoxify those specific indicators of social stability. In addition, this corresponds to market economics and the global trend of urbanization, echoing America’s second industrialization strategy, and is a tremendous action to pull Chinese society into the global system.

‪Furthermore, there is another matter related to the founding of the “Contemporary Weber Institute.” That is, the growth in the number of Chinese Christians is predicted to reach 150 million by 2020 and by 2030 will have grown to over 249 million people. And if the Communist Party were to abandon its official “atheist” position, the growth in the number of Christians as well as other religions could increase. Although currently maturing, Christianity in China is still not prepared to greet a fresh, new China; at the same time, society as a whole also has not formulated a necessary response to the rise of Christianity.

‪But there are problems. The first that we need to be aware of is that many are not yet prepared to understand the fundamental distinctive features of modern society or modern Chinese-speaking societies. In Weber’s Germany, people were faced with the rise of a post-war Weimar government and in the eyes of most Germans the Weimar government became known as a symbol of “defeat and humiliation.” In other words, a standard constitutional and independent political entity turned into a symbol of humiliation. Part of this lies in the fact that after the 1848 revolutions in Europe, when the Holy Roman Empire dissolved, German society experienced big changes that would surpass even the changes in China today. These transformations forced German society to give up its rosy ideals of “ancient society” and embrace “modernity.” Unfortunately, the German people were not able to adapt. This was embodied in their inability to “play” politics, their inability to concretely implement political life in the public sphere. Parliament’s endless debates stopped short of actually addressing the bitter lives of the nation’s people, causing Weber to start thinking deeply about German society’s “separation of ancient and modern.” He suggested that there needed to be reflection on what modern society should look like. In addition, there needed to be an examination of bureaucratic patterns of modern society. Since this new system was “untested,” implementation would need to be done incrementally, so as to ensure success.

‪Chinese society is very likely to follow in the footsteps of the Weimar government. One reason is that there are already large numbers of “political romantics” gathering on the edges of power, waiting to once again contend following a political vacuum. This time, however, they are depending on the tools of “natural rights” and “democracy.” When the power of society needs to be mobilized, “natural rights” is always a good call to arms. Yet, the current standards in Chinese-speaking society are most likely to suffer harm there. Weber naturally regarded “modern society” of his time in this way. He did not pass judgment on ancient and modern, rather in a pertinent and practical way he spoke out on the modes and rules of behavior operating in society. Adopting these modes and rules would prevent people from being used by the “scum of society” (troublemakers). The majority of Weber’s social analysis has applicable lessons to draw on for today. Because of its analysis of the advancement of “history” in Chinese society, it helps us to accurately find our individual place among various means of political mobilization from a rational standpoint.

‪The second problem we must be aware of is that we need to build the structures of a modern rational society, particularly civil society organizations such as the church. At present, Chinese-speaking Christians do not possess a notion of “modernized governance” because, according to Weber’s definition, Chinese-speaking Christians at best are believers ruled by charismatic leaders rather than looking towards God; in the absence of a bureaucratic polity, there is rule by charisma. Therefore it can be asserted that Chinese-speaking Christianity is situated within an organizational pattern similar to that of pre-16th century Europe. Such an assertion is not an exaggeration, because a rational and predictable Christian organization that runs in accordance with certain rules can become a tremendous force for social stability. If not, it will be “separated from heaven” and taken advantage of beforehand by people. However, rational organizations are not a panacea. How does one know the secrets of success to an “administrative organization?” This is what Chinese society needs to learn.

‪With this awareness of the problem, the study of Weber and Chinese society will carry real meaning. A number of years ago, people widely believed the growth of Christianity to be God’s “eclectic talent,” a “blessing” for the growth of Chinese civilian society. The expansion of civil society and the middle class is the real pillar needed to transform a great power. Yet, as Xi and Li launch their new policies, the strength of Christianity is far from being evident. Instead of promoting political reform, it has created conflicts, such as the   PX event,* which allowed for the denunciation of intellectuals. This confrontation between two parties (the urban middle class and the state) within a one-party system was a pivotal moment sociologically and politically.

‪Weber’s importance for post-transformational Germany is just as important as the study of Christianity and society for China today. The goal of China’s modernization is to thrust China into the modern world. Under this reasoning, various “isms” have taken hold in civil society. However, civil society remains just a politically created double-edged tool. The power of the tool may still be weak, but it cannot be ignored. Chinese-speaking societies have long enjoyed making political proposals for future social development. What Christianity can deliver at the present time is a covenant constitutional government. These “-isms” are already granted around the world, but in today’s Chinese-speaking society they repeatedly suffer at the hands of people using them as “tools,” which is just like post-war Germany. With such a challenging problem as this, Weber helps us view it all. However, If we really understand Weber we would have expected to see Weber teach us to first understand this society, including the true internal nature of politics. In this way, aside from “teaching people to be bad (教人学坏),” people could experience the study of and teachability of virtues.

Original article: 新教与中国的未来 (translated and posted with permission)

*This refers to a protest against the relocation of a chemical plant in Dalian, China, an event which was significant because the protesters were urban middle class residents.

Churches Respond to the Earthquake in Yunnan

On August 3, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck a remote region of Yunnan Province, in China’s southwest, killing more than 600 people. The Chinese government quickly launched rescue operations and continues to provide relief for those affected.  But what about the churches in the area? A reporter from the mainland site Christian Times talked with a local pastor in the area about how the churches in the area are responding. The article is translated below.Yunnan Earthquake August 2014

Local Churches Work Together to Help Those Affected by the Earthquake: A Pastor Comments on How to View Natural Disasters‪

On August 3, Ludian County, Zhaotang City,* Yunnan Province experienced a 6.5 magnitude earthquake. The death toll has risen to 390 people.* According to reports, this is the biggest earthquake the region has experienced in 16 years. The next day, the earthquake was the lead story on all major news media outlets. With regard to how to respond to natural disasters, Pastor Huang Yatong, from a church in Zhaotong City, encouraged Christians to pray for the victims in the area and to actively lend a helping hand in order to manifest the love of Christ.

‪On August 4 when Christian Times staff telephoned Pastor Huang Yatong to learn more about the situation, the earthquake death toll had risen to 390 people. Pastor Huang said the disaster is quite serious, since it already had resulted in more than 180 missing people, more than 1,300 injured, more than 12,000 collapsed houses, and damaged more than 30,000 rooms.

‪After the earthquake, they were also faced with persistent rains. When the churches in the area learned of the disaster, one after another they have given their respects and commissioned Pastor Huang and the church to aid the victims. Currently, church workers are buying relief supplies. Pastor Huang said there is an urgent need in the quake zone for instant noodles, water, colored strips of cloth, blankets, tents and other such supplies. They hope to deliver these to the hardest hit area as soon as possible.

‪Pastor Huang said Ludian is about 20km (40 li) away from Zhaotong city. There are no churches in the area, so not many Christian brothers and sisters are affected by the disaster. As for the question of how Christians should respond to natural disasters, Pastor Huang shared that the most important response was to pray for victims of the disaster, that God will have mercy on them. In addition, when caring for the survivors, it is important for them to feel the love of God.

‪For the victims who perished, Pastor Huang said that from the perspective of faith, we can only pray for them and ask God to have mercy on their souls, because natural disasters can happen at any time. As citizens, we ought to play our part to the greatest extent to help see them through the difficulties. If one person has difficulty, eight people can provide support. For many years, the Zhaotong church has been involved in some aspect of disaster relief work.

‪”Right now the entire community is carrying out relief operations; whether it is corporate or individual leaders, everyone is actively doing relief work. The disaster rallied everyone together even more. Their disaster is our disaster. We have a responsibility to help them, but Christians also have an obligation to pass on the love of Christ so that more people feel the love of God,” Pastor Huang candidly shared.

‪Indeed, when news came out about the Ludian disaster, secular society and the church began working hard to bring relief to the affected areas. Early morning on the 4th, a Beijing church minister sent out an urgent intercessory prayer request and invited local churches to pray together for the earthquake victims.

‪In addition, Pastor Huang also said that following an earthquake the year before in Yiliang County, local churches had offered continuous help and had established a link with his church. In the same way, after the Ludian earthquake, churches in Beijing, Shanghai, Wenzhou and other places have been quick to respond to the earthquake, sending supplies to the area.

*in Chinese administration, a city is a higher level administrative unit than a county; in other words, a county is a district within a city, usually some distance from the urban center.

**the death toll has now exceeded 600.

Original article: 各地教会联手支援鲁甸地震灾区当地牧者谈如何看待天灾 (translated and posted by permission)

Image Source: Straits Times 

 

 

Keep Praying for MH

On July 17, a Malaysian Airlines flight travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot out of the skies over eastern Ukraine. 298 souls perished. In the days following, many Christians took to Weibo to express their condolences. We have translated a few of those posts below.

mh17-wreck

Source: Channel News Asia

On July 17, Yao Chen (姚晨), a well-know Chinese Christian actress, reposted a news article about the crash and wrote, “How horrible”( 太可怕了).

On July 18, Yao Chen reposted several photos of the crash victims each with a short bio and wrote, “Heartfelt condolences!” (深切哀悼!)

On July 21, Chen Weiquan (陳威全), a Christian Taiwanese Singer/Artist, posted “About the MH17 event: many Malaysians are feeling very sad, and also paying tribute to the families of the victims. This time I feel that we really need to cheer on Malaysian Airlines. No matter how everyone feels toward them this year*, this still is the Malaysian Airlines that Malaysians have grown up with. When they were young it was the airline they flew on trips with their families, it was the airline they flew on trips home from university, they even flew it out to perform social work. Today I am flying to Taipei and I am flying Malaysian Airlines. Cheer on Malaysian Airlines together! Keep praying for MH.

On July 18, Chen Weiquan wrote, “Pray for MH…”(In English)

On July 18, 上帝爱小科 wrote, “{Pray for Malaysian Airlines flight MH17} Lord, grievous news has come and the hearts of your sons and daughters are profoundly shaken to their depths. With trembling hands, we gasp at the loss of life that in a flash fell and perished. We earnestly give thanks for the peace that we have today. We ask you Lord to comfort the families of those who lost their lives, erase their pain and open the eyes of the hearts, make them see the briefness and frailty of life, to see the darkness of this last age, to see that the Lord is the only path. Only you have the answer to our lives!”

On July 19, CCDM基督教数字传媒 posted the identities of some of the victims and wrote, “{Lives Shot Down – Reflection on the Lives of a Portion of Victims from Malaysian Airlines flight MH17} Let’s all pray together for the families who lost loved ones, let those who mourn receive comfort, let the facts of what happened come to light soon, let people value the ultimate meaning of life.”

On July 18, G.E.M. aka Deng Ziqi(鄧紫棋), well-known Hong Kong pop star, wrote, “When the world is so ridiculous, life is so fickle, other than sighing with anger, maybe we should more actively share love. When you feel powerless in this world, just first start with the small things. Try hard to love each person you meet. Believe in the power of love. R.I.P.

On July 19 福满多yyym posted, “Pray for MH370 and MH17, May the departed rest in peace” (#马来西亚客机坠毁# pray for MH370 and MH17、愿逝者安息、)

Also referenced:

Christian Times Article (“Yao Chen, Wang Li Hong(Lee Hom) and Other Christian Artists One After Another Pray for Crash Victims of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17”)

*After the disappearance of MH370 in March, with many Chinese passengers on board, many people in China have expressed their anger at Malaysian Airlines.

Image Source: Channel News Asia

A Book on Drums and Worship

As the Church in China continues to grow and mature, one of the issues that is coming to the fore is that of music. Until recently, much of the music played and sung in Chinese churches has been on the traditional side – translated western hymns or indigenous folk-style music (popular in rural churches). Only in the past few years have we seen the emergence of what might be described as “Christian Contemporary Music,” popular, as one might expect, among the younger generation, particularly in the cities. The main drivers of this move towards contemporary worship music have been music ministries outside of China, such as Streams of Praise and Hillsong. Now, however, Christians in China are beginning to find their voice. This article from the Christian Times is about the publication of a book called Drums and Worship, written by a percussion teacher at a Christian music school.

 www.christiantimes.cn-鼓手敬拜封面-2

Joyful River School of Music Percussion Teacher releases a book “Drums and Worship”

In recent years, with the growth of the church in China, more people are recognizing the importance of worship; heavenly worship can bring down heavenly power and blessing. In response to the call of God the Joyful River Music School has published a book called Drums and Worship. This will be the first book by a professional Christian drummer about how to worship God with drums.

Joyful River Music School is a praise and worship ministry calling the church to produce good music and to use its best to worship God. Many younger brothers and sisters are willing to devote themselves to this and are receiving training.

They recently published a book Drums and Worship written by the school’s professional drumming instructor, Brother Li Cixian. This is his first book.

Li Cixian was born into a Christian family and so from a young age attended Sunday School, youth groups, and served in the church with his parents. At age 18, he enrolled in the music department of a Korean seminary to begin a systematic study of praise and worship, and of drumming.

After graduation, he became the leader and drummer for the Ebenezer Worship Band, and was invited to be a lecturer in percussion at his alma mater. At age 22, he was admitted to the Beijing Midi School of Music. Upon graduation, he entered the ATA Band as a drummer. Since then he has also worked as a percussion instructor at Joyful River Music School.

He has cooperated and played with Huangguolun, Xianghai, Xunchi, Huangqishan, Dongfangbili, Caiqianqian, Hillsong, and many other Christian artists on songs such as “Testimony of the Times,” “Harmonious Love,” and “From Eternity to Eternity.” He has also participated in numerous large-scale concerts as a drummer and musical director.

Why write Drums and Worship? According to Brother Li, there are numerous references to drumming in the Bible, beginning with Genesis, and each time the drums are shown to be a be an important feature of worship.

“Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” (Psalm 150)

“And it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud.” (2 Chronicles 5:13)[1]

We also read in 1 Chronicles 16:5 that “Asaph the chief, and second to him Zechariah, then Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom and Jeiel, with musical instruments, harps, lyres; also Asaph played loud-sounding cymbals.” In this we see the close relationship between Asaph and God. He is not just a songwriter and worshiper leader; he has another identity which is often not noticed – that of a percussionist.

In the foreword of the book, Brother Li describes how God called him to be a drummer. At first, he was surprised, but over time he realized that God was teaching him to understand different perspectives in worship. This book is a product of that growth in understanding.

This book, which took Brother Li three years to write, can be described as “good news” for Chinese worshipers. Brother Li wrote this book because there has never been a book written in China on the Christian teaching of drums, something that was a concern to many brothers and sisters.

The book is written from the perspective of a worshiper. It analyzes the forms of the church. These include rhythm, basic skills, speed, and other specific technical exercises and explanations. Looking at these from a philosophical perspective helps us to understand more clearly the need for excellence in drumming training. The book also has collected 14 different pieces of music from a variety of sources (Hillsong, New Life, Streams of Praise, etc.) as demonstration tracks. This will help brothers and sisters to learn more quickly how to use drums in worship.

Now that the book has been published and is available online, Brother Li hopes that it will “bless many people and bring them joy.”

According to Brother Li, the Joyful River School of Music will also publish books on guitar and piano in worship.

To purchase Drums and Worship online, go here.

[1] In the Chinese translation of the Bible, this passage includes the character 鼓, which means drum.

[2] The English translation uses the word “cymbal,” while the Chinese word used is broader.

Original article (and photo): 中国教会首本鼓手教材出炉:乐河音乐学校推出新书《鼓手&敬拜》(Christian Times — translated and posted with permission) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caring for Elderly Parents

China is facing some unique demographic challenges, not the least of which is an aging population. Currently, roughly 8% of the population is 65 or older. However, according to a report by the BBC, that number is expected to be 12% by 2020, and 26% by 2050.

In addition to the economic challenges that such a demographic shift will bring, the challenges to individuals and families are even greater. Because of the one-child policy that has been in place for the past 30 years, the traditional responsibility that Chinese children have to care for their elderly parents (filial piety) is becoming increasingly weighty.

In the translated article below, originally posted on the mainland site  Gospel Times, the writer shares a few stories of how this is impacting preachers, especially those in more rural and impoverished areas.

Another piece of background information: the word  chuandaoren (传道人) can be translated as “preacher” or “evangelist.” Normally it is used for a person who serves in a church (Three-Self or house church) as a preacher, but who is not ordained.

IMG_3420-001

The Concerns of Preachers – How to Care for Elderly Parents

‪”I have never dared to speak about filial piety,” said a preacher who was forced by the pressures of life to give up his church service work. This concern of how to care for elderly and invalid parents is a common one among many ordinary pastors and preachers.

‪This preacher, who lives in Hunan and does not venture to preach about filial piety, did not receive a salary from the church while he was serving there. He could have had a job with a substantial income, but because he felt God’s call, he resigned his job, studied theology, and began to serve.

‪The preacher’s parents are over 70 years of age. His mother is very sick and regularly needs medication; his father is an elderly preacher. His father is still doing pastoral work and his parents live at the church. Because no one has taken care of his parents’ house for many years it is now unlivable.

‪Though the preacher has remained filial to his parents, because he did not have a salary he did not venture to make a commitment to take care of his parents and did not dare to preach a message in church about filial piety. Later, under a variety of pressures in life, he left his ministry in the church.

‪The preacher’s life is still difficult, but he has ventured to tell his parents that he will take care of them and has told his parents to let him know whenever they need something.

‪A preacher in Jilin recently began to worry about this same issue of caring for one’s parents. This preacher himself has opened a church. Because of the testimonies of the brothers and sisters he has been pastoring, recently, after some discussion his congregation gave him a raise. However, even after the raise his salary is not enough to pay the expenses of the family.

‪This preacher pastors in an urban area, but his parents still live in a rural area. His father has not been able to take care of himself for many years, and has been cared for by his wife. Unfortunately, she has recently fallen ill. The preacher took his mother to the hospital for an examination and treatment, but even after spending a thousand yuan, her illness was not cured. ‪

At the time the preacher began the church, the situation was even worse. When the preacher just started the church, the economy was even worse. He did not ask his parents for money, but came to serve the church in faith. Each time he went home, his mother knew he was distressed and every time she would surreptitiously slip him some money (worried that he didn’t want it). When the preacher returned to the city, the mother would tell him where she had slipped the money.

‪He is unable to help his parents out financially because he is a preacher. Today, because of watching his parents age, the issue of caring for elderly parents has hit home to him.

‪In Hebei, a church planter also worries about caring for his parents. His mother’s waist, neck, and legs are diseased, and she also suffers from dizziness. In addition, his wife’s mother also needs constant care.

‪This pastor’s mother is very happy that her child is being used by God and she does not want to be a burden to her son’s ministry. One time, she attended a worship service led by an evangelist with the gift of healing. She prayerfully asked God to heal her. As a result she, who used to only walk by leaning against a wall, can now walk freely.

‪In order to allow their son to be able to minister with ease, the preacher’s parents continue to farm to the best of their ability and take care of themselves. (Note: Since the church is still a young church plant, it cannot give him a salary. His wife is working)

‪Some members of the churches where these preachers serve believe that preachers should not receive paychecks and therefore the churches do not give them salaries. Some churches are so small they are unable to pay a salary. Only a few churches offer a salary.

 

Original Article: 传道人的担忧:如何照顾年迈的父母?(translated and posted by permission from Gospel Times)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Difficulty of ‘Urban Missions’ in China

In this article, translated from the site jidutu123.com, the author looks at the challenges of doing ‘urban missions’ in China. His main point is that doing urban missions, traditionally defined as ministering to the marginalized, is difficult in China because it assumes that Christianity is already part of the mainstream of culture, something that is not true in China. He then calls on the church to look for ways to engage with society rather than standing in opposition to it. Only by doing this will Christianity gain influence in Chinese society.

urban setting

The Difficulty of “Urban Missions” in China

The term ‘urban missions’ has been translated into Chinese as “城市宣教.” It refers to a model of evangelism in an urban setting. Previously, the term “missions” was thought of as evangelism among “unreached people groups,” especially those in Africa or Central Asia, and particularly among Muslims. With the acceleration of globalization, evangelical scholars have come to realize that the city itself needs to be evangelized; as a result, urban communities have increasingly become the focus of urban missions.

Historically, urban missions referred to the advancement of the gospel within a particular sub-cultural community. Sub-cultures naturally appear on the edges of the mainstream culture of an urban area or a primary cultural group. For example, those who are involved in government administration and resources form the mainstream culture of Beijing. It is the post-university workers (蚁族) struggling to make a living[1] or the migrant workers temporarily living in Beijing who are most marginalized.

When the term ‘urban missions’ is used abroad, there is a basic presupposition that Christianity is already a part of mainstream culture and society. In this case, the sub-cultures that develop naturally or from the cultures of immigrant communities become vulnerable and remain at the margins of the mainstream culture. In these situations, one of the purposes of urban missions is to help facilitate the integration of grassroots communities into the mainstream of society.

Viewed in this way, doing urban missions in China is virtually impossible because Christianity is not a part of the mainstream culture. Whether we’re talking about traditional or modern society, whether the Three-self or house church, Christianity remains on the margins of Chinese society and still has a weak voice. Therefore, when we talk about urban missions, the Chinese-speaking church is still lagging behind. To be sure, there are prominent intellectuals or business people who are active in Christian fellowships in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou; however this does not prove their leading role in Chinese society. One of the reasons is that traditionally, once a person came to faith, there was little effort made to integrate faith with society. On the contrary, Christian faith was usually seen as being in opposition to society.

According to theories of urban missions, Christianity is assumed to be part of the mainstream culture; however, this is not the case in China. If we want to remedy this, we must clearly understand the overall context of modern China, particularly marketization and globalization. Our country has begun to gradually give up its conservative and traditional culture and become a modern society. We are no longer living a lonely and natural existence; rather in good faith we are building altruistic resourceful relationships. If we can realize that this is the biggest mainstream cultural phenomenon of our era, we can then begin moving the church from the traditional school into the modern school and begin using social culture to expound the Christian faith. In this way, Christianity will become the mainstream culture.

Once it becomes part of the mainstream culture, then urban missions can really begin, and society will become more unified. It is true that the future mainstream of Han Chinese society is beginning to take shape; however, this is only one part of the modernization process.

The difficulty of urban missions in China is that current mainstream society is centralized within a system. The church itself is limited in quality and finds it difficult to influence society’s organizational structure. When it cannot influence the system, and when confronted with certain phenomena of this period of transformation, namely an imperfect national legal system and poor religious management, Christianity, especially house churches, begins to rebel against the system. In other words, the predominant attitude of today’s church is not a desire to become mainstream or to influence the mainstream; rather it is to resist the mainstream.

In the future, it is inevitable that a new attitude toward the culture of industry and commerce will emerge. It’s possible that the church will be seen as resisting modernization if they continue to resist traditional government authority. In fact, this kind of resistance has already been seen on the part of so-called fundamentalists in western countries.

Chinese-speaking churches must avoid this type of miscommunication and disengagement from the society at large. The church has the opportunity to take its place within a new mainstream culture that is taking shape within China. If we can seize the opportunity and pour our faith into the future, then we will see God’s gracious blessings.

Original Article: 城市宣教的中国难题 (jidutu123.com) (translated and posted with permission)

[1]蚁族 “Ant People” – college graduates who may or may not be legal Beijing residents and/or those who live in cramped conditions and struggle to make a career for themselves.

A Church for Hani and Yi People in Yunnan

www.gospeltimes.cn-111

While much is written about the explosive growth of the church among the Han (dominant ethnic group in China), less is written about the spread of Christianity among the minority peoples. The article translated below is about a county in Yunnan Province that is praying and raising money to build a church.

 

The meeting point in Baohua village, Honghe County in Yunnan is the first meeting point of Honghe County; yet they still do not have a church building.

In the early 1980’s there were only a dozen or so minority peoples who were believers. This year there are more than 260. Because of the needs brought about by this growth, the local authorities have decided to build a church. The congregation will be made up entirely of Hani and Yi minority people.

In the absence of a church building, the believers have gathered at the homes of brothers and sisters. After the restoration of religious services in 1980, the number of believers eventually grew to more than 500. However, due to language barriers between the minority people and the Han, lack of pastoral training, and a weak foundation, by 2000, many believers had left or fallen away.

At present there are more than 260 believers among the Hani and Yi people in the county; however they are dispersed because they have no fixed place for worship. They have a strong desire to see the gospel spread throughout their county so that even more people will be blessed. They have been praying for 4 years that God will pour out his grace on Honghe County and bring revival. They want to build a church in Baohua Village.

‪In 2012, the congregation registered with the local authorities, and purchased 500 square meters of land. Because the village is in a remote area with poor transportation access, the brothers and sisters are asking for prayer for the congregation and for the building of their church.

Original article and image: 云南红河哈尼族彝族自治州红河县将建第一个教堂 全为少数民族信徒 (Gospel Times). Translated and posted with permission.

Learn more about the Hani and Yi Ethnic groups from Joshua Project: