[Opinion] Strategies for Evangelism in the House Church
By CCD Contributor: John Li, May 06, 2017 07:05 AM
Liang Jialin summarized four strategies used when the Gospel was introduced to China for the fourth time: evangelism, education, medical treatment and social relief. These strategies were mentioned in his book, Blessing Upon China.
Some readers may question if this kind of research is necessary. In their opinion, when the Gospel was introduced to China for the fourth time, it was the foreign pastors who evangelized in China. Can the Chinese family church learn some practical experience from them? In fact, when Chinese family church preaches the Gospel to Non-Christians in China, it is also facing people from a completely different culture. Non-Christians in China emphasized atheism and worship money. They take Christianity as a foreign religion.
The Chinese family church can learn a lot from foreign pastors who came to China for evangelism in the early times.
The House Church's (or family church) attitude towards evangelism should change
I mainly refer to the strategy of public evangelism here. Jesus taught his disciples: "You are light and salt of the world". It means that both the church and Christians should be the conscience of our society. Let's try to witness the existence of Christ at any time.
John Stott, the world-renowned evangelist and Biblical scholar, has mentioned in one of his books, The Living Church, that church's influence derives from public testimony. But many strategies of evangelism in the house church are constrained by security.
I don't encourage the house church to preach the Gospel at the cost of anything. However, we should put the mission at the first place instead of security taking precedence. If we are always worried about security, we are no different from cowards. Don't deceive yourselves.
Evangelism is our priority and we can even receive some persecution for it. If foreign pastors, who preached Gospel in the early times, refused to reach the poor and dangerous China (at that time) for security, we won't be nourished by the Gospel.
Stott has a profound knowledge of the church. In his opinion, the church should take an active part in the secular world. We don't blindly follow the trends of the secular world; but, we should try our best to make the world better with the influence of Christianity.
Jesus prayed to his father: "Don't let them leave the world please. Just keep them from the evilness. They don't belong to the world just like me. Your Gospel is the truth. You sent me to the world. I have also sent them to the world."
The mission of church is not to preserve the goodness inside the church. We should step out of the church and show our concern to the society. The concern should not only be reflected in our prayers; but, also in our actions. The church should be courageous and witness the existence of God actively at any time.
Pastor Tang Chongrong has a very profound insight into this and he takes his church as an example. Indonesia is an Islamic country; but, his church still carries out various ministries in Indonesia, including preaching, education and medical care. As foreign citizens of Chinese origin, they will receive resistance sometimes. However, they never give up.
Second, the house church should improve its social image
What do most Chinese think of when it comes to the Chinese church? Although the current number of Chinese Christians is estimated to be at least 80 million, we rarely hear the public opinions of Chinese Christians on social media. They are still regarded as an unfamiliar group. Many non-Christians still think Christianity is a foreign religion.
In his book, Liang Jialin mentioned using an indirect strategy of evangelism such as education, medical treatment and social relief. Compared with the direct distribution of Gospel leaflets, these indirect means can improve the image of Christianity in China.
When the Gospel was spread in China in the early times, the Chinese held a negative and hostile attitude towards it. Even now, the Chinese House church is faced with the same embarrassing situation. What's worse, most of the Chinese are atheists and believe in the theory of evolution. How can we improve the image of Christianity in China in a short time?
We must make it clear to the Chinese that Christianity is not an aggressive religion. Chinese modern historians always emphasize that Christianity is a means of aggression. Most Chinese Christians believers don't accept the fact that many foreign pastors were politically involved in the spreading of the faith.
We must deny the involvement of early foreign pastors in the Opium War. Some Christians foolishly proclaimed that God opened the door of the Gospel in China through the invasion of Western countries. It seemed that the invasion was justified, but it is definitely not.
In fact, foreign pastors were forced to take part in the invasion. Liang Jialin is very objective about this: "Some of them did participate in the ministry of intelligence for their mother country and assisted in translating documents in the signing of unequal treaties.
However, this was due to the fact that only they knew how to speak and write Chinese at that time. The mission of foreign pastors was Gospel ministry instead of military aggression. They were only a minority in their mother country. They couldn't represent the willingness of their mother country. The invasion would continue even without the participation of pastors.
In the early times, neither believers nor pastors in China were allowed to take opium. If they did so, they would be expelled from the church. Many pastors took part in the campaigns against opium. We can see that Chinese church was against the opium trade at that time.
Most Chinese believe in atheism. This is the result of education. So they naturally hold a repelling attitude towards Christianity. We can improve the image of Christianity from the level of knowledge. More public lectures and activities will help. We can gradually make them reflect on evolutionism by preaching the Gospel to them.
Third, the House church should have appropriate communication with our society
Many Chinese churches only have a single way to evangelize. They just spread leaflets of the Gospel.
When foreign pastors came to China for the first time, they made up for the shortcomings of Gospel leaflets by promoting education, healthcare and social relief.
We are now living in an age filled with advertising and propaganda. Gospel leaflets could only have a little effect under this environment. So we have to think about how to preach the Gospel in a more appropriate way.
For example, at present, the most commonly used personal way of evangelism is not practical in China. The usual way to evangelize is called the three blessings: blessing of the secular world, blessing of the ban and blessing of behavior.
Three blessings is practical in the Western world because most of them believe in Christianity. However, most Chinese adhere to atheism.
I have also studied personal evangelism before. I have gained a lot from that period of learning. The trainers of the three blessings program also think reading according to the book is boring. They emphasize a systematic mission. Troubleshooting the three blessings is very valuable. We should take advantage of it and set up a system of evangelism which is more accustomed to the practical situation in China.
People in the post-modern times don't like systematic logic. They prefer sensory stimuli. We can consider preaching the Gospel with video as a way to evangelize. It is easier for people to accept faith without changing their original culture. As a result, we must find a culturally accepted way to preach the Gospel in China. For example, we can think about preaching online.
The statements above are just my thoughts after reading the book "Gospel in China" written by Doctor Liang Jialin. The passage is not any kind of serious academic research. I just worry about the stagnation of evangelism in China.
This passage is just a brick throw away in order to get a gem. I hope we can all reflect on practical strategies of evangelism for Chinese house church. Bless the churches of China, and I bless more courage and wisdom in the ministry of the Gospel in Chinese church.
I also recommend the book Blessing Upon China (Fu Lin Zhong Hua, 福林中华). The book has an overall and profound analysis of the modern Chinese church.
Translated by Emma Ma
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