Pastor Xunguang Chou, the leader of the Joshua Worship Group，talked to CCD about his understanding and awareness of the "heavenly kingdom culture" over the years' serving and hopes to train leaders, pastors and fellow workers of mainland China through this course to help the church break the "religious spirit" bondage and build the church with a new worship culture.
CCD (China Christian Daily): Why does the church fall easily into the binds of the spirit of religion? How do we escape this problem?
Pastor Chou Xunguang: When Christianity is seen as the religion, it is easy to be bound by the religious spirit. The religious spirit will make a lot of things feel like rituals, but it does not have the ability to make people forget the reason to do these things. I hope to break the shackles through the "heavenly kingdom culture". Christianity is not only a religion, but a relationship with God. Faith is not a ritual; it's important to know why God wants us to do these things and to understand what His mind is. If you read more of the Bible and do more things Christians should do, but you don't know God and act like God then all the things you do are meaningless . Christian should not take these things for granted and must know why we should do these things; otherwise a lot of our behavior will become law and rules and there is no difference from other religions.
Now I want to teach the "heavenly kingdom culture" to make the church showcase the nature of the reality of God and to break the religious bundle. Only religion will tell you that you are not good enough and you don't love God enough.And if you should read more of the Bible, pray and fast more, God will accept you happily.
So you do it and hope that one day God will be satisfied with your actions but God doesn't hope so because God says that "I love you" not because of what you have done.
The Pharisees are living a religious life; they go to God to count the numbers of their own righteousness and think they are better than others. This attitude will only generate superiority, legalism, conviction, and judgment. But it is painful that the church is very easy to change into the religion and tje religious spirit in the church is very strong. I grew up in the church and I am very familiar with that phenomenon.
Some Christians are in communion each month but they don't know what they are doing. If you have never come to the altar of brass (Jesus Christ) and laver (the word of God) before, when you receive communion every month, you get no benefits. We must know the underlying meaning and not follow others blindly.
In fact, I still struggle with that problem because the spirit of religion affects the children who grow up in the Church so much. Someone says that God wants us to suffer, to pay the price, and to carry our own cross, and it sounds right; so God will not give you a blessing and this is the spirit of religion. God is not like this. The children who grow up in the Church are treated in that way and live in such an environment so they are afraid to be seen as proud because they talk about the good things with others.
I often have this struggle and sometimes I'm afraid of my own abundance. That is the spirit of religion. It makes you feel that you do not deserve these things and you can only get God's approval through suffering, sacrifice, and paying the price. But I really want to help our brothers and sisters to understand the truth that Jesus says that you are free. That freedom is that God always loves you even if you do nothing.
If you want to be out of the spirit of religion, you must have true worship. Worship is the Christian's most important culture. As for people who grow up in the Church, true worship can help us get out of religion and legalism and can make us experience the love of God. We can feel the truth of God in worship and know that Christianity is not religion, but meeting with God.
CCD: If Chinese churches want to setup worship groups, what kind of training do they need ?
Pastor Chou Xunguang: "The rise of the mission has five basic values: 1. The core- the understanding and theology of worship. 2. Character: our relationship with Jesus, that makes us more and more like Him. 3. Art: our gifts, talents and skills. 4. The group: the relationship between each other is like a family. 5. Chemical reaction: we and God, altogether with brothers and sisters, have a connection and fellowship.
Why should we worship? After the tent meeting of Moses, you can know the procedures of worship so you will be transformed into the place where God is willing to live in. I believe God is preparing his Church. Since the beginning of the reformation, God is recovering his church one by one, from the bronze altar, laver, lamp-stands, the shew-bread table, and God restores the golden altar of incense in 1999. Therefore, during the 2,000 years we are waiting for Jesus to come back , God has been preparing his Church because the Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ. When the Bride is already holy and perfect, the bridegroom shall come.
CCD :Is the Joshua worship group aimed at young people and what shall Chinese church do to attract young people to come in?
Pastor Chou Xunguang: As for young people, the very dynamic and modern worship can attract them into the church. It is easier for them to get into the church this way because we are meeting God in worship. I hope to set up a mission to serve young people because most of the church's worship is to sing some of the traditional songs and I don't want to set up a band.
The Joshua worship group was founded in 1998. At first, we had four people and gathered in a small group. I will share the Bible with them each week and slowly began to practice so that we became big like this now. After 16 years, we not only have more and more members, but we have also published more than 30 albums. We also become the agent of some world famous worship groups in Taiwan, such as Owl City, Hillsong, etc. We are the second worship group among Chinese people except the spring of praise. At first, we just want to serve young people, but we gradually find that some of the old begin to sing our songs too. In fact, worship and praise have nothing to do with the age of people.
At first, the Joshua worship group translated foreign songs, now 2/3 of our songs are translation and 1/3 of our songs are created by us. Sometimes, I think it is not necessary to sing our own songs because songs written in other languages are also full of the spirit of God, so that people can experience God by singing those songs. When we translate those songs, we also can experience what God has done for the author. I believe that the Chinese people will have their own worship and praise with our special voice given by God but I also believe that God wants us to come together with all the nations, not only with Chinese people I believe we can become a blessing. We connect a lot of the worship groups who serve God all over the world by translation, so that the Joshua worship group can learn from others and constantly improve. Therefore, we not only see the Chinese worship, but also connect with all the nations.
CCD:You said that your main job is in a organization called Asia for Jesus; does this organization have any special burden for Asia?
Pastor Chou Xunguang: I spent most of my time in Asia for Jesus and the Joshua worship group is just one part of what I do. We publish praise and worship albums and have sermons everywhere. Those all belong to Asia for Jesus.
This work not only serves the Chinese Church but also the churches in Asia because we have the burden for Asian countries. We believe Asia is the final baton of the Gospel; when the whole of Asia comes unto Jesus, Jesus Christ will come back. So we serve like this and hope all of the Asians can come to Jesus.
At first, Indonesia's Philip priest received the mission and trust of Asia for Jesus and some foreign ministers with the same burden also shared content with each other. I inspected that through prayer, found that I had the same burden and decided to join them.
Asia Coming Back Home, organized by my parents, is a little bit different from us because we are mainly for young people; but the big goal is the same because both of us want to help Asian countries to be on the journey of coming back to the home and receive blessings from God. We are eager to use the course of heavenly kingdom culture to train the nations and prepare for Christ's return.
CCD:What kind of situation opened your eyes and mind?
Pastor Chou Xunguang: I am affected by Pastor Chou Shenzhu, my father, because he has the burden of the whole world. When he was the senior pastor, he attached great importance to the connection with the other churches, including in the Asian home journey. Because of much attention they paid to the relationship between other churches and not only to his own church ministry, I am also influenced by them deeply. I discovered that they don't just manage their own church well but also have a heart to bless others. I think God gives us so many blessings not to let their own church become larger, but to bless more people.
In my heart there is a belief that there is no church that can get a city for God by itself. We need to come together to get a city or a country for God. God has not chosen a church to do all the work. What God has chosen is the body of Christ, which means all of the churches. If all the churches are not connected with each other like a body then there is no resurrection. This is the importance of the connection among churches.