Chinese Grassroot-Church Leader: Six Reasons Why Believers Drain

Believers gather in Xigu Church
Believers gather in Xigu Church (photo: CCD contributor: Rev. Sun Hongzhong )

There are numerous issues commonly found in churches in China. This article serves to address the current issues contributing to a decline in the number of believers in China.

As to whom shall be primarily responsible for this trend, many have expressed different views. From my personal experience in serving the church, below are the key reasons for such decline:

1. Problems arisen from church

1.1 Imperfection of church preachers

Church is the body of Christ. Though all preachers understand this concept rationally and have been preaching it to all his members, little is being done when it comes to application. Some leaders fail to love the church body as their own bodies to care, to build and to testify. Paul encourages us to "to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ". The emphasis addressed that here is love, love that arises from Christ's love. Words without deeds are dead. How can the body of Christ be built up when leaders fail to live out Christ's love? How can the body 'build itself in love"( Eph 4:16)?

Hence, problems will definitely arise when leaders, out of their influence and authority, stir up conflicts within the church. When church leaders behold different views, perspectives fail to obtain their desired outcomes, the result can be disastrous when they start to disrespect each other or stubborn to stick with their own position.

Of course, church leaders also had conflict at apostles' time. Paul and Barnabas disagreed over Mark's issue. They were even involved in heated arguments but eventually, decided to submit themselves to the highest authoritative power.

Among a few churches I've visited before, such issue seems common among them all. Some leaders even influence a group of members to leave together with them, causing tremendous hurt to the existing churches.  

However, Christ will never harm his church as He prays for church's unity in the scripture.

1.2. Lack of love and care in church

Lack of love found in church is one of the reasons why believers choose to leave church. Church is supposed to be a place filled with love. People start to gather when love is the centre. On the other hand, a church absent of love will not win people's hearts. Many believers have decided to leave their church when they are not ready to face church politics or fail to see love present in the church. 

1.3. Lack of spiritual nurturing

I've been to a village church before. The preacher in that church only has primary school qualification. Due to lack of formal training the preacher has gone through, he can only play Christian DVDs whenever he finds himself lack of knowledge to preach.  

However, preachers in the urban areas face another kind of challenge. They are so busy with ministry work that little time is left for personal devotion or Bible reading. Thus, ironically, it's said that the biggest crisis of preachers is their lack of time in reading the Bible. As such, some of them simply turn to the Internet for preaching resources instead of preparing them by themselves. Preaching then becomes a task for some preachers. As believers do not get feeding from services, they would rather stay at home for personal worship instead of congregational worship. 

2 Problems can also arise from believers themselves

2.1 Lack of willingness to serve or surrender

Many believers are very emotional. They will only choose church that suits their preference. Especially in urban areas, such phenomenon is more prominent probably due to the availability of many choices. On the contrary, people in village simple do not have many choices to choose from. Moreover, some believers purposely avoid churches that challenge members to tithe or make offering. They'd rather prefer churches that do not speak about offering at all.

2.2 Picky Believers

Picky believers who tend to make judgment or criticism on church body's limitations are very commonly seen in church. Sometimes, they like to make judgmental comments on their pastors whenever they feel that church fails to meet their expectations.

2.3 Believers who lack love for the church

Church body comprises individual church members. When a group of sinners gather, imperfections of church become prominent. When believers fail to pray against the power of sins in church but begin to gossip about it to external parties, they are actually leaving a terrible loophole to bring more severe problems to church. The root cause of the problems is lack of love among these believers.

Surely, the above-mentioned issues serve as a reflection of my personal experience and perspectives, which may not cover all the issues that may trigger the core problem. But I believe that when church leaders and members work hand-in-hand to fight against the same crisis, the problem of backsliding will definitely be eased.

The author of this article is a pastor from Xigu Church in Lanzhou, Gansu Province.

related articles
LATEST FROM Church & Ministries