Crisis Faced by Younger Generations of Chinese Christian Families

Caring For Children
Caring For Children (photo: pexels)
By CCD contributor: Mu Feng October 15th, 2020

The phrase ‘XX the Second’ has been accepted as a catchy phrase in contemporary spoken Chinese. It is expressed in such a pattern: rich the Second or cadet the Second, meaning the second or further generation that inherits their older generation’s wealth or power. By the same token, “Faithful the Second” refers to the second or even the third generation of believers of Christian families. The first generation Christians maybe grandparents, the second parents, and the third grandchildren. There could be even the fourth and fifth generations.

Many parents of the second generation in China are believers, co-workers, and pastors of a church so the faithful parents will lead their children to become the second generation of believers in the family. Of course, it is easy to bear the title of Faithful the Second, but the second generation may face many challenges in inheriting the Faith. We thus made an analysis from three aspects concerning the crisis of the second generation of Chinese Christian families.

1. Being unclear of their faith

At present, there is a great crisis in the faith of children in Christian families. For families in cities, children are busy with school and parents are busy with work. There is not much time for the parents to take their children to learn about the Christian faith. For rural parents, their own understanding of the Faith is limited, and they can't express it in a comprehensible manner even when they describe what Christian faith is. Therefore, teaching their children to understand faith will cause loopholes and problems in their children's faith life.

If we don't give timely instructions in faith, then, as children grow up, there will be various problems. For instance, children will gradually learn from their classmates as they are pressured to conform to their peer group. All my peers have not accepted Jesus so it does not seem to matter whether I accept Him or not. On the other hand, online games are gradually occupying children's attention and parents sometimes neglect their children's addiction to games. It is not that parents are ignoring it but today's children are all pursuing these things and their parents are powerless.

Therefore, due to various reasons, Faithful the Second gradually believe that faith is irrelevant while it is fine enough for their parents to accept the Faith. Moreover, they think that they are too young and that it is needed by adults or elderly people. They begin to have a wrong understanding of faith which seems vague without a real trust and pursuit.

Not long ago we heard a testimony from an elderly believer who was talking about how happy she was that her son was unexpectedly willing to go to church with her. At first she was very happy because her son attended services with her when he was a kid but had stopped going when he grew up.

However, to her disappointment, her son said that he attended services with her was just an attempt to make her happy. There was no other reason. The believer became disappointed instantly.

This also reflects a problem. If you don't understand Faith, you will misunderstand it, and if you don't know the gospel, you will despise it. It not only causes reflections and considerations in Christian families, but also causes concerns to contemporary pastors. The question to be considered is: Are the next generations of Christian families ambivalent about Christian faith?

2. The cold attitude towards the Faith

The second aspect of the crisis is also apparent, the cold attitude towards the Faith. When parents attend services, some children will be very annoyed with their parents' activity or unwilling to follow their parents to participate in services or even a family prayer meeting. Of course, this is also related to the previous reason, that is, being unclear in matters of faith. In addition, with the growth of educational background, some children gradually have their own judgment, knowledge reserve, and rational thinking, so they will advocate current science and technology and seem to be uninterested in faith. They even regard faith as superstition.

Besides the influence of knowledge on children, there is also the influence of the social system and ethos. Post-modern social groups are more concerned about themselves, pleasure, consumption, interests, and development. I have talked with some second-generation believers about some current issues, and their biggest questioning voice is whether believing in Jesus will help them to make money. How much do you get paid by believing in Jesus? Once in a taxi I talked with the young driver about faith. The driver's reaction was that Christian faith was well-intended so one could learn from it, but one shouldn’t be addicted to it. After all, working hard to support one’s family is the true thing.

3. The wrong understanding of the Faith

Most of the second generation of believers have not received theological education and systematic study of the truth. The mastery and understanding of the faith come from the instruction of parents and what one is taught in Sunday schools. Therefore, there will always be some one-sided understanding and misunderstanding of the Faith.

By studying the brothers and sisters in the church and the records of Christian families, I find that some children of Christian families have never been to a church and rarely participate in various ministries. Only when they have difficulties in their work, can't find a partner, or have other problems will they start to ask their parents to pray for them and even ask the congregation to pray for them.

Of course, intercession is good, but what is more important is your own relationship with God, your connection with faith, and attending the church's meetings regularly. Therefore, many second-generation believers have such a problem, that is, when they need Jesus, they should seek Him quickly, but when they don't need Him, they leave Him alone.

In fact, when we analyze the problem of the second generation of Christian families, we should not just discuss it but should pay attention to it, arouse thinking and introspection, find suitable ways and means for teaching Christian children, and train talents for the baton of the Church so that God's family will continue to have more people.

- Translated by Charlie Li

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