The WeChat Business’ influence to Chinese church

By CCD Contributor: Sophia, July 26, 2016 12:07 PM

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When opened the "Moments" (circle of friends on WeChat, I was very confused that many of my friends became WeChat merchants selling a variety of goods to other WeChat users. It seems that they have grasped this opportunity and utilized the platform to make a lot of money. But, until now, I haven’t met a friend in WeChat who became a rich person through the platform. Is it because they are lacking in management skills? Are they lacking in experience? Are their goods poor in quality? Or they don’t have the passion to dream of buying a BMW in one month? Many of them have given up after being a merchant in WeChat after a few days since they started, there are also some people who are obsessed in promoting their goods, but they still haven’t made a lot of money yet.

Similar to the onset of WeChat merchants this phenomenon is also becoming popular in churches. I don’t know when and who started this trend but there are more and more people joining the trend. I call them “sheep merchants”, pastors and church staff who have finished their training and yet do not do anything to propagate their message. After a few days or months, more people consider it as a normal job without hesitation. Although the CCTV and other channels such as Laoliang’s view about the world have reported that many ads are deceptive, there are still people who hope that they could become rich by being WeChat merchants and think they would be lucky in the venture. 

1, The WeChat Business’ influence in the church.

An observant person may find that when the WeChat merchants become popular in the church, they will be enjoying a very huge consumer market. This common belief narrows down the distance between “sheep merchants” and the believers. When special groups or the “goat merchants” take part in the church, they encourage “sheep merchants” and influence their actions. These “goat merchants” are pastors who have finished their training and have positions to preach in a certain way, enabling them to entice believers in believing these pastors and the goods they are trying to sell. They would think instinctively “She is a sister; she won’t deceive me!” Or “He is a brother, he can’t take advantage of me.” But no matter if they are “sheep merchants” or “goat merchants”, they all have one common goal: it is to make a sale for their goods! They can get the money during the promoting process alone! Of course, this kind of analysis is directed towards people without definition. There are people in the church who have the ability to determine these merchants, but they will be influenced by their love for the church. The “poor pastors” phenomenon is very common, especially for the Chinese church. If one wants to support a pastor, they just have to purchase goods from the pastor to show their love. 

So brothers and sisters, you must have the ability to distinguish the difference on the jobs these pastors do. Whether it is right or wrong, new or old, no matter if it is in fashion or out of date, the most important thing is to distinguish their actions! Just as the Bible said “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (NITV version)

So the “poor pastor”should do this kind of job just because of “poor’?

2, Is it appropriate for pastoral staff to do WeChat business?

Speaking about this phenomenon in the church in a theology class in WeChat, some of the class opposed this idea, others remained neutral while those who supported the idea have defended their peers. However, there were also others who argued that it is not appropriate for the pastoral groups to have that kind of job. 

First of all, pastors are the voice of God, their behavior may cause other believers to stop believing. 

Besides this fact, this group of merchants in the church would be like financiers in the Bible. For example, the reliability of goods, the manufacturing and purchasing of goods, the approval of these goods and the protection of consumers remain undecided as the financiers should highlight the rules that must be followed.  

Finally, pastoral members should ask themselves if they continue their trade, can they concentrate in serving God? 

Some people may speak in defense of themselves for the trade they do. They said they have tried the goods they sell and because of its good quality, they like to introduce it to their friends and gain some profit from it. Facing their classmates, coworkers and other pastoral members, I believe every person who serve Jesus will deeply understand that kind of feeling!

As a result, Christians can be WeChat merchants, but they must have standards and guidelines with regards to what they sell and see its implications. One must see if their goods are reliable and of good quality, as well as affordable and open customer service. In the end, we can see the verse that is applicable in this instance “‘Everything is permissible for me’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’—but I will not be mastered by anything”

3, How Christians should treat WeChat Business? 

As a new industry, we should objectively accept this trend and distinguish its influence by praying and reading the Bible. We must also consider how to act wisely in today’s world and consider every action we make. 

In the same way, we should not directly oppose without hesitation or approve these trends without consideration. We must check its validity and consider the environment. Once you learn the facts, decide if we suit it or not and should we decide, we must do it to honor God.  

(The author is a Christian in Lianzhuangshi village located in Yiyang county, He’nan province.)

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