China Chiristian Daily

- April 27, 2017 -

Church

A Probe into Shepherding and Christianity's Role in China's Urbanization, Urban Church Pastor

By Rev. Hong Shuyong
on January 26, 2017 07:01 AM

urbanization
Urbanization: (CCD File Photo)(credit: ChristianTimes.cn)

In China's vast countryside, there are a large number of people living like "migratory birds," who is the main source of the annual spring festival transportation pressure. Before the fall of the "spring rush." They returned to the countryside from the city to celebrate the New Year, and afterward they returned to the cities in huge crowds. They do not have a sense of belonging in the city churches; Nor did they influenced and their short stay during the festive period in the countryside cannot bring renewal to the rural churches. 

This is an unhealthy phenomenon of the church life in the process of urbanization in China.

For China, urbanization not only includes the entry of the rural population into the city, but also concerns how to settle these people from the countryside in the city so that they can enjoy the same public services as people of the city. China's urbanization is deepening, which means that the city has to accept a huge number of rural people and the city has to be continually expanded, turning many agricultural land into urban land and laid-out farmers into urban residents. 

It was released that the national urbanization rate in 2013 was 52%. About 200 million migrant workers have become urban people. It is too difficult for the city to accept and simulate a huge population of migrants and to solve their daily living problems including their housing issues, medical insurance and education of their children. 

Unequal public services have become China's largest problem in the process of urbanization. I think that Christianity should do something to serve and pastor these migrants in the current state. 

Preachers should have a clear understanding of the needs for the rapid social development. 

With the acceleration of urbanization, these people need more care than urban residents due to the work pressure, the monotony of the spare life and the inner emotional needs. The city church ought to take the initiative to care about their beliefs, care about their lives in the city, helping them to truly integrate into modern urban life.

The fast-paced life and fierce competition among people often make people feel physically and mentally tired and nervous. With the gap between the rich and the poor widening and a strong material temptation, people may lose a proper balance in their life and engage themselves in extreme behaviors. The Christian insights of sexual evil and the longing for the renewal of individuals offer true comfort and hope to those under heavy psychological stress. Therefore, the Christian Church in particular, feel the significance of spreading the pure gospel. The correctness of preaching determines whether people living a meaningless life can be turned back to God and live a positive and hopeful life. 

Churches in the Midwest pays attention to the training of ministers

Although the land has been urbanized, the welfare system has not reached everyone in the city. Since the Reform and Opening up, there is a big increase of opportunities in China's eastern and southern part where attracts a large number of people from the West. Up to now, the churches in the Midwest region and in the rural areas see the same phenomenon that there are too many women,  elderly people and children left behind. The education level of young adults here is generally low. Western church gatherings are also relatively simple, except for Sunday worship. It is rarely able to carry out other activities.

In China, Christian leaders of the county-level Council are mostly concentrated in the county, which is a common phenomenon. Naturally, the main church in the county has to bear the responsibility for the development of other churches surrounding the county. I personally feel that county-level CCCTSPM should make full use of the county's main church to train co-workers throughout the county, such as standardize their sermons and help their writings, discover and solve their problems.

The city church cares for the shepherding and counseling of migrant workers

There are also changes in the city and the metropolitan churches: the rapid expansion of the church, the rapid growth in the number of believers. Most of the increase are migrant workers. Although they are in the same city church, the church pays little attention to many of their needs, and became the church's marginalized people. In these groups, there is a large portion of separation between husbands and wives; the children's raising and education are also urgent to be taken care. 

Urban churches should pay more attention to the shepherding of migrant workers and helped them according to their needs. For instance, the church can hold parent-child activities to strengthen the family tie and organize Bible knowledge contest to improve their interest in reading the Bible.

The difference in the importance of cities in China has historical factors, but more importantly, due to political reasons and the interests of groups who benefit the city. The super capacity to contain people in today's most important cities was determined mainly in the 30 years of reform and opening-up process, when the central government and the provincial government put huge investment in infrastructure building, those cities were supported first.

China's provincial cities and other equally important ones offer many employment opportunities every year. They are the favorite of migrant workers to the city. On the one hand, migrant workers participate in the construction of these cities and economic development, an integral part of the normal operation of urban life. They do the most tiring, bitter, dirty work in the cities, such as cooking in a restaurant, nannies, cleaning, farmers market, etc. On the other hand, the city government and the urban residents have mixed feelings toward them and complaint that the city has become too crowded and over populated with this huge number of migrant workers.

On the contrary, migrant workers realize that they are outsiders of the city after all. They have no intention to take root in the city, ready to return home in rural areas. Having enjoyed the benefits of the Reform and Opening up policy which brought about new ideas and new life for people, the second generation of migrant workers, do not want to repeat the same mistake by their parents to do the tiring, bitter, dirty work despised by the urban residents. when the migrant workers really leave the city for good, the urban life may be paralyzed. How to deal with this contradiction in large, medium and small cities to achieve a balanced development test the level of civilization in a city.

In the future, new situations will arise. Christianity must meet the increasing need for the city church to care for migrant peasants, the elderly and the children of these migrant workers in their spiritual thirst.  Today, the church needs to constantly update her concepts, raise her awareness and face the practical problems and challenges in the right theological perspective, in order to promote the development of Chinese churches in a healthy way. 

About the Author: Rev. Hong Shuyong is a Pastor serving in Jiangxi Provincial Christian Council.

Translated by Alvin Zhou

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