Each year, during the summer and winter vacation or on major festivals, my church will give me a chance to visit the urban church to learn the good sides of different churches in the country. Having visited the urban church for a few years, I have learned the following lessons about the urban church in China.
First, urban church pastors and believers are not so close to one another in comparison to the rural church.
The number of believers in the urban church is huge, making it difficult for pastors to know each of them. Because of this problem, some believers felt they are being ignored or treated coldly by the church. However, in the rural church, pastors are familiar with each believer because some believers have fixed seats. They can easily tell who has not come to the service and after taking note of it, they would make a phone call to reach these believers. Though the urban church has a different situation than the rural church, both churches should make great effort to improve the relationship between pastors and believers.
Second, the urban church has a huge volunteer team.
In the rural church, ten percent of the people are doing ninety percent of the work because most of the young people have gone to cities and only seniors and children are left. With the great change in society over the past decade in China and the ongoing fast-paced development of urbanization, almost all the young people and the vast majority of the mid-aged have gone to cities, causing the urban population to rapidly increase. As a result, the rural church's believers decrease sharply in numbers. What is worse, the major forces it has cultivated in years such as the voluntary missionaries, choirs and the group of young believers also left the countryside for cites to attend the service or serve the urban church. Since the rural church has lost the young generation to the urban church, it could not see the visible growth of its mission.
Third, urban church pastors need to improve their levels.
The city mixes different races and cultures. Since urban church's believers are young and intellectual, the church is living in an environment where there is high education, tense competition, advanced technology and huge desires for consumption. How to preach the Gospel in such an environment is effectively determined in large by church leaders and missionaries' levels. So the pastors need to improve their levels desperately.
In general, there is a great development in the spread of the Gospel and planting of new churches in important places of China, as well as in the places where minority groups live.
Christianity is no longer the faith for people with little education and no status in the bottom of society. It has become the faith which is attractive to intellectuals, such as the teachers and students of key universities and the influential ones in society. In the past, the majority of the Chinese church's believers were seniors, women and those with little education. Now, it is changing to become more diverse. In addition, the denomination and theological thought also went through immense change. In the past, there was no denominations and only the conservative fundamentalism persists. As overseas various denominations and theological thoughts flooded into China, the Chinese church has been affected and greatly changed by them.
Another change experienced by the church is the great increase of donations and offerings the church collects from believers. It is caused by the development of the economy, especially in the districts close to the sea.
In consequence, the Chinese church faces a new challenge in its mission strategy and that is leadership training.
Translated by Alvin Zhou