Losing Half of Seminary Graduates, Church in Hebei Seeks Solution

By Josiah Li, December 17, 2016 02:12 AM

A Church in Northern China(CCD File Photo)

Since the 1990s, the church in Daming County has sent 100+ members to pursue a theological education in other places including Beijing, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian. Besides, the local church has held a one-year Bible training program for twelve years. However, more than half of the seminary graduates are losing. 

Daming is a county of far southern Hebei province, owning a rich history of evangelism, seated the mission headquarter of the Church of the Nazarene and mission centers of many foreign denominations before liberation. At that time there were also a gospel hospital and a theological seminary. 

Now there are around 10,000 Christians in Daming with about 30 churches and 57 gatherings divided into 5 parishes. Every parish has approximately 10 gatherings that are led by one or two trained preachers each. The Sunday attendance of each gathering varies from 50 to over 100. Besides the Sunday service, they hold gatherings on the evenings of Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Besides, they annually conduct three to five three-day retreats in which pastors from the general assembly of the church in Daming and preachers from some gatherings deliver sermons.

The gatherings are managed by the general assembly that has 15 co-workers consisting of one pastor, six elders and the other preachers. Each winter the local churches hold a regular class for seekers spanning 50 days, conducted for 36 times. In the beginning, more than 200 people participated in it while the attendance has reduced to around 50 in the recent two years, according to Rev. Zhang Baosheng from the general assembly.

The church that has been cultivating preachers yet faces the problem of losing preachers. One of the reasons lies in low salaries. Preacher Zhang Leitao of the general assembly claims that each gathering pays 200 yuan to each preacher a month. The monthly wage for the co-workers of the general assembly ranges from 400 to 600 to 800, though they haven't been paid in 2016 due to the church decoration and added equipments.

Preacher Zhang admits that it has been a big mistake to ignore co-workers because the general assembly has committed too much input on church material conditions.  Now the church commences to deal with the losing preacher issue. From July 2016, the parish where he is in charge of has started a revolution: the 40% income of each gathering, namely less than 200 yuan, is used to support preachers, which is generally agreed. But he claims that there is still much work to promote the change and it's good to have this concept in the lone run.

He adds that a church in Henan, who does a great job in supporting preachers, use 60% of its earnings to pay preachers. 

The church in the county plans to hold a friendship association to find back those seminary graduates who work outside the church due to financial pressure on Dec. 29 to 31. 

Translated By: Karen Luo

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