Eight Crises Facing the Chinese Church

By Yetta Yao, October 21, 2017 07:10 AM

Daqing Panshi Church, the claimed largest Chinese church

Liu Hai, a worker at Liuan Elim Church, stated in an article that the modern church faces eight crises. By knowing the crises it confronts, the church can reverse the effects.

1. The congregation expects its pastor to be "omnipotent."

Liu claimed that there is a general lack of full-time preachers in the Chinese church, so pastors need to do multiple ministries and are even confused with their own duties; meanwhile, the congregation wishes for a pastor to be "omnipotent and versatile."

As a result, pastors can't specialize and get distracted, leading to less productivity in ministry.

He opposed the phenomenon and shared the modern society called for the specification of social division of labor and that Peter chose seven people to serve tables while the apostles focused on prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4). Jesus refused to tell a man's brothers to divide the inheritance with him and made a distinction between a pastor and an arbiter (Luke 12:140). It showes that preachers and pastors don't need to do everything but only what they are good at.

"The church should know how to judge and use people, set up a pronounced division of labor and clear required responsibilities in ministry arrangement. This perfectly reveals that 'each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.' (1 Peter 4:10)"

2. Have faith even if pastors are underpaid or unpaid.

The old issue has been discussed for over a decade: affected by the traditional concept that a poorer pastor is more devout, many churches regard pastors who work outside the church to make a living as lovers of the world; instead, pastors should live by "faith".

Liu gave two explanations for the problem: The first is a connection with western missionaries. When China was  economically backward, missionaries provided financial aid to believers while preaching the gospel. Therefore, a stereotype that you would get something in the church had been formed among the congregation who hardly agreed to pay or donate to preachers. Even if preachers were paid, their wages only covered living expenses of the lowest class. Secondly, older pastors who are in charge of churches or retired are still influential. They lived a life of hardship and think that the next generation should live like them. Some even believe that Jesus loves the poor more.

Even though the situation has started to improve, the concept that preachers should suffer is uprooted in the church's soul. What is worse, a gross disparity in the salary of preachers exists between rural and urban areas and in different regions.

3. Treating ministries as mere jobs

Liu asked whether the so-called church workers carried on the work of the Lord or treated ministries as family-supporting jobs.

He explained that as they served for a long time preachers' zeal wore off after experiencing church crises and gradually turned insensitive and indifferent to the church and the congregation; even visitation ministries withered. Serving became an occupational habit or a way of self-fulfillment, which was an unhealthy development trend. He stressed that serving God was totally different from doing a job and it was important to have the right motives and attitude. Furthermore, the church would have a promising future because God kept propelling the church forward.

4. Running the church as a company

Many pastors have to make administrative rules as the church grows to regulate ministries and church operation. Overdoing it has given rise to another crisis --- pastors running the church as a "company" where the rules and system were placed above Jesus' "love".

5. Devotional life is "networked".

In the networking era, many pastors and Christian media have brought the gospel message to the Internet with the intention of providing convenient access to Christian resources. However, too much is as bad as too little. A large percentage of believers started to attend services, hear sermons, and read biblical exegesis books indiscriminately online, resulting in a reluctance in going to church.

Liu exhorted the congregation and pastors to not be foolish and understand what the Lord's will was. 

Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.(James 4:8)

6. The church walks "alone"

Liu said that a church that could develop on its own was prosperous and sound, but the "independence" of some churches was the fruit of dissension and disunity. He warned that a church with a self-conceited service philosophy would be marginalized and displease God and men. A single church could never go further and stronger.

He added two more crises: focusing only on its own interests without reaching out and visiting the rich more than other people.

A lot of churches refuse to do missions that come from God and even to pay the price for evangelism. Many only care about their own interests. Church pastors show more respect and concern for the rich than other people.  

- Translated by Karen Luo

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