Some people believe that the church's role is to provide God's word, and that should be sufficient, so they argue that believers should not rely on the church for everything. Conversely, others think that the church, in addition to providing the word, should make efforts to do other things.
Wang Zhenhai, using a pseudonym, aligns with the latter perspective. He has spent many years serving at a city church in Northern China and firmly believes that the church's duty extends beyond teaching the Word to helping believers tackle practical challenges in their lives.
According to him, "Many believers can't fully address their real-life issues simply by hearing the word. Applying these teachings isn't always straightforward, even for expereinced believers, let alone newcomers." After years of service, Brother Wang has gained a deep understanding of believers' real-life situations.
Wang maintains that today's believers not only need spiritual guidance but also face practical challenges in their daily lives, such as family conflicts and financial problems. He emphasizes that the church should step in to help believers deal with these issues.
Wang explained, "One of the main objectives of the church should be to identify believers' problems and proactively help solve them. Unfortunately, many churches today don't fully grasp their members' situations."
Believers may have a general understanding of the overall church environment, but the church often struggles to understand the specific circumstances of individual believers, especially in congregations without small-group ministries. These churches continue with their pastoral work without a comprehensive understanding of their members' situations.
To promptly identify believers' issues, churches need to shift their mindset and invest time and effort.
Wang noted that many pastors and staff members in churches may have attempted to address believers' problems in the past, but the results were often less than ideal, leading many to gradually give up. Many believers also came to view the church primarily as a place for congregational gatherings, feeling that they had to face real-life issues and challenges on their own.
Through his practical service, Wang observed that nearly every believer faces economic challenges. Many families grapple with mortgages, car loans, and other debts, which create significant daily stress. Wang also noticed that unresolved financial issues strained family relationships and made it difficult for individuals to focus on their faith and service.
Wang also saw that a considerable number of people, including Christians, resorted to credit card debt, consumer loans, online lending, and informal borrowing to address their financial problems. This often led to a cycle of debt as they moved funds from one source to another until they couldn't meet their financial obligations.
For this reason, Wang believes that the church should not only teach biblical truths but also respond to the needs of the time. "For example, in today's context, the church should offer guidance on borrowing and lending, cautioning believers against financial pitfalls. The church has also provided advice, suggesting prudent investments over the pursuit of excessive profits to prevent financial losses in recent years," he added.
Besides economic factors, household issues can easily escalate and affect marital relationships. The church, in Wang's view, has a responsibility to step in and offer timely assistance to prevent believers from mishandling family matters, which could ultimately jeopardize their marriages.
- Translated by Abigail Wu