China is a land of remarkable contrasts and contradictions.
And as my current trip through China has reminded me, these contrasts are also to be found in the Church.
As mentioned in my last blog, China has more than 100 million Christians and prints more bibles than anywhere else in the world. Yet in some ways, this centre of explosive church life is still in its infancy.
But despite these contradictions, there are at least 3 key reminders that leaders in the so-called “western Church” can take from the church in China:
1. The church must adapt to changing social and economic conditions
In China’s less developed, agrarian areas, the church’s traditional role has been in ministering to the needs of the poor. But in the increasing wealth in urban centres countries often experience growth in social problems such as divorce, substance abuse, and juvenile crime. The church in China is preparing to respond.
Leadership question- How relevantly is your church responding to the changing landscape of your community?
2. The church can flourish in a challenging environment
Let’s face it; there are elements of China’s cultural and political history that have represented unique challenges to the church.
But the church is flourishing nonetheless.
Leadership question- Do you ever use local opposition as an excuse for your church not flourishing?
3. For the sake of the gospel, churches need to find a way to work together
This is a huge can of worms to open, but in short, the church is segmented in China into two significant groups; the registered church, and the unregistered (or “house”) church.
I won’t begin to unpack the very complicated dynamics surrounding this grouping, but one thing is clear; the greater Kingdom cause would be better served by a unified expression of the local church.
Leadership question- Is there a church leader in your community with whom you need to build, or repair, a relational bridge?
To be clear, the church in China is in its early stages of development, but I believe it is on a journey that could change the face of Christendom in our lifetime.
But along the way, let’s be sure to capture leadership lessons vital to the church in our part of the world too.
It’s exciting to hear about what’s happening in churches in China, Scott! Point 3 is very important. My pastor often tells us that as churches, we can do more together than we can apart, and I agree.
Thanks for weighing in Dana. Continue to pray for the Church in China, especially for unity. It’s a very complex issue here, but it is very important.
As Jesus prayed in John 17, that his followers would be “one”, that’s what we need to see in China.