Voice: Grassroots Ministry Is Not Just a Matter for Church Staff But Also for Pastors

Senior Pastor Chen Suisheng of Dongshan Church in Guangzhou, Guangdong, gave a sermon during the 2023 ministry conference held on January 31, 2023.
Senior Pastor Chen Suisheng of Dongshan Church in Guangzhou, Guangdong, gave a sermon during the 2023 ministry conference held on January 31, 2023.
By Li ShiguangFebruary 20th, 2023

As the church's internal and external environments have changed in recent years, the traditional preaching ministry from the lectern no longer fits with the church's current situation. Under such circumstances, many churches have begun the transformation toward forming small groups. Therefore, almost all churches began to form groups over time. However, the results of small groups work turn out quite different. Some groups work well, and both pastors and members are happy with them. Other small groups might not work well, but they still need to keep going because the environment affects them.

The Christian Times, a Chinese online Christian newspaper in China, has recently interviewed Pastor Zhou Peng, the pastor of a church in southern China. He shared his experience with the transformation of forming small groups in his church and provided an overview of some of the factors influencing the success or failure of this transformation within his church.

Pastors must be involved in grassroots ministry

Pastor Zhou's church has been exploring the road to transformation for more than a decade. He is a firm believer that the transformation of forming small groups in a church must occur "from the top down," meaning that the pastors and leaders at the top of the church must place a high value on this transformation within the church. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to start the transformation within the church "from the bottom up."

Pastor Zhou has much on his plate, but even though he is busy, he decided to lead a group himself. Otherwise, it would be impossible for pastors and fellow believers alike to pay enough attention to the work of small groups. He added that if pastors don't lead groups themselves, they can't really experience the hard work of pastoring.

If pastors do not personally participate in grassroots ministry, they will not truly understand the difficulties of the grassroots, and in the long run, they will become disconnected from the grassroots and the congregation, and eventually only build an ivory tower for themselves, losing their connection to the reality of the outside world and others. Because there are many co-workers under pastors and church leaders, they may hand over pastoring to one person, worshiping to another, and prayer to another. The pastors are simply the people in charge of managing these ministries. Even if the pastors have been involved in these services before, they may end up in the strange situation of being pastors who don't know anything about ministry. Only when pastors themselves participate in pasturing can they learn about the difficulties and sweetness of the process of pasturing and reach an agreement with the grassroots. In this way, the hearts of all people can be connected, and the church can move forward with more power instead of wandering or even retreating into internal friction due to the disunity of the people.

The church needs more sisters to step up and get involved in service

Not only does Pastor Zhou participate in the actual ministry himself, but now his wife also take a part in the ministry herself, partly to reach out to the hearts of the people in this way, but also to be a role model for the family and encourage more couples to both participate in the ministry. "If my family doesn't do it, how could we persuade other people to do this?" he said.

"It's a completely different situation than it was a few decades ago when we had a lot of sisters who were serving in the church, including worshipping, praying, and preaching. However, in the past few decades, the situation of the church in China has changed greatly. At present, in many churches, brothers are pastors and leaders. Most of the ministry work is done by brothers, and many sisters stand behind and support them."

Under such circumstances, Pastor Zhou asked his wife to step forward and participate in the ministry. Several other sisters began to get involved in church ministry under the leadership of his wife. According to him, the brothers now pastor the brothers in their church, while the sisters pastor the sisters. This has the advantage of making pastoring more targeted and easier to go deeper.

 (At the request of the interviewees, the names of the people in the article are pseudonyms.)

- Translated by Nicolas Cao

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