Xiao Liu is a pastor in charge of a suburban church in central China that has more than a hundred believers, most of whom are migrant workers.
Since most of the believers come from rural areas and a large part of them are converted to the Lord because of illness, they are charismatic. It is for this reason that they are always rejected by some churches, which believe that their beliefs have deviated from the right path.
The church that didn’t approve of Xiao Liu’s church the most is run by his classmate, Da Liu. This church is known for its rationality and logic, and its congregation are mainly professional groups who have settled in the city. They claimed to belong to a certain denomination and stick to the creed. They argued that Xiao Liu's church was not on the right path of the gospel but rather a kind of superstition.
But due to the economic recession caused by the pandemic, some believers lost their jobs, leaving the both churches in trouble, which made them see no hope for solutions. So they thought of each other almost at the same time, and at this time, the previous doctrinal incompatibility was over.
They made an appointment and sat down at a Starbucks in the city. Although they were trained in the same theological training class and taught by the same teacher, they had rarely sat down with peace of mind since graduation. At that time, they were sitting together, thinking that they should be united rather than at odds. They pooled resources and sought solutions to current difficulties.
Soon, they contacted nearby churches, with more than a dozen church leaders sitting down to discuss ways to get through the trouble. Some of these churches once had huge disputes among themselves, even to the point of rejecting each other. But now, amid the scarcity of resources, churches that are fragmented and distinguished from each other will be isolated and helpless. Therefore, it is necessary to let go of prejudices and huddle together for warmth.
Da Liu and Xiao Liu co-hosted and initiated a federation, with heads and main workers of member churches forming a fellowship. Now they are not fighting with each other or sitting down to deal with doctrinal issues, but instead worshiping God and sharing the gospel of Jesus.
This church staff’s fellowship starts to get on the right track, and they are beginning to think of ways to share resources as much as possible. For example, they plan to go to other churches to share the message, give testimonies, and pray together for something, as well as discuss and resolve financial problems.
The three-year pandemic has changed not only the social pattern but also the mindset of the church. They used to live for their doctrines, which they thought were the only truth and for which they would go through fire and water. In the dispute, the voice of sanity is often drowned out and the gospel is hidden. The current predicament allows Christians to appreciate God's revelation that He wants unity in the church. It is never the church that God saves; it is the people who walk in His right way.
- Translated by Abigail Wu