Reflection on Three Crises Chinese Church Faces from Historical Perspective

A Chinese church.
A Chinese church.
By CCD contributor: Han EnzeOctober 17th, 2018


A history that repeats itself shows people who repeat the same mistakes because they can't perceive and come to realize the truth or change. While opening a history book, we should reflect upon ourselves and our surroundings to see if we will make different decisions for the same things rather than make criticism or judgment. What to do now is not to change the church, but ourselves. 

History reminds us and also warns us not to make similar mistakes. God, who doesn't lead a piece of history in vain, speaks to today's church through people, events, and conditions in history to guide the church out of crises. 

A lack of ambition in faith  

The Chinese church is developing lots of "talents", but a pursuit of progress is rarely found in church workers. Some of new seminary graduates have a problem that knowledge is everything, causing them to despise older generation Christians and comment on leaders. 

Regarding themselves being self-motivated, they may fall into a trick of ungrounded belief full of confusion. The more dangerous thing is that while they become affected by social and cultural currents, they become complicated and secular. In a comfortable era filled with temptations, Christians who fail to be prepared for danger in times of safety will definitely sink into the world.

Many times, Christians should not take receiving Christian faith for granted or overlook the difficulty of the arrival of the gospel. They don't cherish or take faith seriously.

The introduction of the gospel into China is a fruit of almost one thousand year's efforts that started from Nestorianism in the Tang dynasty to Matteo Ricci to Robert Morrison. The success is owed to those missionaries to China who had love and faith as well as passion and sincerity for Christian faith. 

A greater lack in the Chinese church is that faith is too "superficial" - ministry without connotations, life without depth, and life without testimonies. These traits are also presented in contemporary preachers. Willing to make progress, they are often seen as self-complacent with wrong motivations and views of the world, life, and values. 

A lack of unity and cooperation in ministry 

Unity exists in a team where each of them can develop and be trusted to use their gifts and specialities. The China Inland Mission founded by Hudson Taylor in Fujian in 1866 is a good example. Not belonging to any denomination, the organization recruited Christians who had the will to share the gospel with pure faith. Every ministry member should put down his own ambition and arrogance and humbly receive people who work with him. A ministry can't be accomplished with just a person, but by the hands of every member whose capability can be fully played. Meanwhile, they avoid battles between different church areas.  

Early in the 1900s, the church in China embraced a revival period that partly resulted from the unity and cooperation among churches. Breaking the denominational barrier and putting unity as the main principle, they collaboratively translated the Bible and started a unity gospel movement. 

History reminds us that the gospel doesn't fail and unity is possible. The key lies in whether people's hearts are ready to be transformed by God. 

A lack of a burden of evangelism  

A comfortable environment always makes lazy people. Every Christian in this age should be responsible for a burden of evangelism. 

Living in Henan, I often hear stories from local senior Christians who hid themselves to preach the gospel and experienced persecution, jail, beatings, hunger, and abuse from other prison inmates during the Cultural Revolution. I feel shame for losing the fervor and spirit to declare the gospel in an easy time instead of in the age of unrest.

For today's church, the crises the younger generation have to confront are to rest on their laurels with laziness. They want high salaries but lack the determination to change the status quo and a burden of evangelism.

The right attitude for Christians to deal with evangelism ministries should be that they learn from the mission history and draw lessons from the past. The aim of evangelism should be achieved even at the risk of betting the farm because the future of the church is in evangelism. 

- Translated by Karen Luo

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