"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 3:2 ) Jesus declares, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) Thus the church is on the way to be holy and perfect when following Jesus, preaching the Gospel and accepting the truth and life from Jesus.
Brother Ma from Suzhou worked in a registered church for years and now serves in a house church. Speaking of the overall development of the church in Suzhou, "it is good" is the answer.
Many migrant workers come to Suzhou with the urbanization process in the recent years, says Ma. Among them, some Christians have established churches to maintain their faith. There are a portion of part-time pastors and the rest of full-time pastors in these churches. Although there is a tradition that pastors make preaching tours to different churches as those in rural churches of Henan and Anhui do, a large percentage of urban churches have been transformed. For example, there is no particular pastor in charge of them. They applied the parliamentary system -- seven or eight pastors make decisions by raising hands. "This (way) is not bad." Says Ma, "Many young people will (get involved)."
However, he states that the Gospel has been not spread extensively while churches are established one after another. "There are many migrant workers and the Gospel cannot be spread widely." High mobility has contributed greatly to blocking evangelism for some workers who hear the Gospel today will leave here tomorrow, hardly engaging in a church. As a result, the members of some local churches found the churches by themselves. It's rare to see street evangelization in the city. While the churches emphasize on evangelism, Christians take the initiative to visit the churches most of the time. Basically, the churches don't go out to preach the Gospel.
Ma mentions that his church organizes to evangelize. In the past, fervent believers distributed the gospel tracts spontaneously on the streets. Or young members sang hymns in a garden or tourist attraction, which attracted strangers who would have a look and ask what was going on. Then the members sent them the tracks and shared the Gospel, which was quite effective.
Now there is some change in the methods of evangelism. "Don't go outside to drag people in but look for Christians in factories." He says that the methods of evangelism should be adjusted according to the local situation and culture. Like in Suzhou where there are numerous migrant workers, sisters can go to the factory dormitories to find Christians and bring those unchurched Christians to the church. "Previously there was the case in the university. Some followed their elders who believed in Jesus in the families. But if nobody looked for them, they didn't want to join in churches when entering into campus. Because they didn't have the burden."Ma says that the way to preach to the "lost lambs in the House of Israel" is easier and more simple.
Yet house churches find it difficult to preach the Gospel no matter how large a breakthrough is made on evangelism. For instance, some Christians judge a good church by its appearance and they are willing to attend a magnificent church.
Moreover, Ma ponders over how to place young members in the service positions though the Gospel becomes more revival in China and more young people surge into churches. "Currently the church gives some services to young members, such as leading the praise or being in charge of the projection... They are willing to do, but cannot persist. So mainly the aged believers are serving."
He adds that the aged believers account for the majority of the staff members and few young members participate in services on their own initiative -- a person may be active unless he or she feels the burden of the Gospel. "Most of (young people today) lack the mission of the Gospel."
Many newcomers come to those churches who always declare evangelism, but most of their spiritual lives are too small. After being nurtured for some time, they are not transformed much, saying that they believe in Jesus. They are still controlled by the sinful nature and don't want to attend services -- this is one of the dilemmas the church faces. "(Churches) should help (believers) know the Gospel first and make them feel burdened to preach the Gospel." Ma says, "When a believer has the burden for the Gospel, a person spurs another. Then it's easy to do it. "
What's more, churches should be built on the rock of prayer. "It's not men running churches but God leading churches. When God works, you cannot refuse to do it. So follow God's guidance, neither off course nor too fast."
Translated By: Karen Luo