The three-year-long pandemic has had both positive and negative effects on the churches in China. The bad news is that church gatherings aren't as free as they used to be, believers are leaving in large numbers, and pastors' and evangelists' spiritual lives have dried up. The good news is that church pastors are starting to realize that the church can't just be a building. Instead of a focus on food and the number of churches, there should be a focus on pastoral strategies that are nuanced and focus on the family.
A few days ago, seven Boomers and Gen X pastors in East China exchanged views on the changes brought to the church by the post-pandemic era and talked about their concerns and worries. The following narratives are in the first person.
Keywords: training group leaders; pastoral ability; and meticulous pastoral ministry
During the pandemic, thanks to the Lord’s protection, the turn-round rate of our church was about one-twentieth. Our church was mainly concerned with the training of group leaders and the herding of groups. That is the top priority of my church. At the same time, for the development of individual spirituality and the whole church, there are more ways to improve the level of pastoral care. We began to pay attention to the refined pastoral care of groups. In addition, I think different churches can help each other with church resources and information so that they can support each other.
Xu, a teacher
Keywords: the church into the society; workplace ministry; the Great Commission
Through the three-year pandemic, my focus was on how my church responded to the challenges posed by the frequent disasters in the apocalyptic era. For example, wars, floods, and earthquakes are increasing, so how can the church pay attention to every believer and their family? I think the linkage of workplace ministry can meet this challenge. For example, you can set up a main resort to prepare for the health of workers, combined with Chinese medicine. Church pastors need comfort in interaction. Social concern includes three parts, the first is the ministry of spiritual life, the second is the ministry of how to solve the life difficulties of their families, and the third is the ministry for the needs of the elderly and families of the laity and fellow-workers in the church.
For example, when a place encounters a disaster, the church needs to stand up to relieve it and be a testimony of faith to the place. At present, my church is characterized by little prayer. Therefore, I feel that the church needs to encourage believers to do a good job in the workplace and encourage brothers and sisters to do business and link between various industries. The transformation of the church group and the workplace service of the church are all important, but the humility and unity of the pastor are more important. Everything integrates the core of resources, such as life, time, money, knowledge, art, tea ceremony, traditional Chinese medicine, etc., all of which serve the Great Mission of Jesus.
Keywords: family ministry; stable model
First, we served in a three-self church, and then we came out to build a family church alone with the main feature of serving Christian families. We usually bring three to four pairs of families to a pastor, and at the same time help parents and children to turn to Christ so that couples and parent-child relationships will be restored and promoted. The past pastoral care models caused the loss of families because of the change of environment, but the gathering and pastoral care with the family as the unit are more stable than before. This model is also introduced to my own church after I observed and studied in other churches.
Mrs. Xu, the wife of a pastor
Keywords: freedom of worship; adolescent ministry; lack of fellow workers; dryness of spirituality
I am concerned about the plight of the church and myself in four aspects: the first one is that we can no longer have large gatherings now, and believers feel that the past worship mode is gone. That makes me greatly regretful. Secondly, in terms of the spiritual needs of young people, Sunday school and young ministry are now stagnant and powerless. The third is that there are fewer and fewer full-time fellow workers in the church. When the missionary calls and demands come, I feel deeply powerless in my heart, because these part-time workers have their own jobs, or they want to work for the Lord but have a lot of struggles considering the needs of their families. The fourth aspect, I feel that my spirituality is very dry during the three years of the pandemic. As the head of the church, I really want to be recharged and updated. The church needs to pay attention to the spirituality and health of the pastor’s wife, and it needs to hold services, especially for them.
Zhang, a teacher
Keywords: business as mission; the church in the society
I used to work in a church myself, but I also had a burden on business. My feeling is that it is still very effective to serve the Lord by doing business, and I really want to serve more pastors. I hope to help more people through traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis and treatment and characteristic treatment technology. In the future, I also plan to serve disadvantaged groups in remote mountainous areas.
Wan, a teacher
Keywords: mentality; executive power; theology; system
The development of the church in China needs a group of pastors with mental and executive power, but the problem is that most pastors are used to learning superficially, and they can’t grasp the essence, such as learning a development strategy of a church. They don’t know what its essence is for, whether it is centered on seekers or the gospel. Therefore, I think it is necessary to pay attention to the improvement of pastors in theology, church management, and knowledge of local culture. Besides sharing and exchanging their experiences through future gatherings, we need to read more books and learn more about the holistic belief system and the execution of the landing practice.
Zhang, a teacher
Keywords: sticking to faith; awakening faith; joint resources
Our church was developed three years ago. We once did a video interview to discuss how Christians should stick to their faith during the pandemic from different angles. Later, the video was uploaded on a network platform, and Christians responded very well. That video woke up the brothers and sisters. It turned out that the church was really prepared to face such a problem that many churches will face in history or now. Therefore, we want to meet the spiritual needs of different believers by combining resources from different churches.
- Translated by Charlie Li