Pastor Says Churches Should Conduct Refined Pastoral Care, Systematic Training

A picture of church pews
A picture of church pews (photo:
By Li ShiguangSeptember 18th, 2023

As most Chinese churches haven't had a long history, the once simplistic and crude governance and pastoral methods are no longer viable today.

Recently, Pastor Wang Zhenhai (pseudonym) of a church in North China shared with the Christian Times, an online Chinese Christian newspaper, his exploration and practice in governance and pastoral methods. He stated that churches should standardize management, refine pastoral care, emphasize systematic learning, and professionalize ministries.

After many years of exploration, his church has established that the church leadership must be elected. A person can serve for a maximum of two terms—one term in three years. However, once they reach the age of 55, they must step down from the position of church leader but can continue to serve as staff workers, subject to the direction of the church leader. So far, they have been practicing church elections for twelve years.

They now adopt a refined pastoral care model as opposed to the pastoral care model that the majority of churches used in the past, which centralized pastoral care in the sanctuary. They categorize pastors, church workers, and believers into groups and tailor pastoral care plans based upon their particular situation. According to their needs rather than dividing them equally by the number of people. This is the essence of refined pastoral care.

Just like students in school, they need to be divided into classes. They learn different content according to their levels, gradually progressing. Each person is equipped based on their unique circumstances. It's not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Wang mentioned that many churches, especially rural ones, had a common flaw: they put believers in the “same class”. Regardless of their individual situations, every Christian learned the same things. This was why someone had believed in the Lord for many years but still didn't understand the truth or their faith. The important reason was that the church had not provided believers with the opportunity for systematic learning and equipping, he added.

"Our church aims to provide believers with systematic and professional learning and training. After gaining skills, they can provide professional service," Wang said. "Today's era is very different from the past. In the past, you could get by with casual learning in many cases. But now many things require professionalism, such as pre-marital counseling and post-marriage counseling, and in recent years, there has been an increase in depression, homosexuality, and mental illnesses. People without systematic professional learning cannot help them."

Non-professionals can carry out some of the traditional tasks of the church, such as management, logistics, and church hosting. However, without professionalism, it is challenging to do these tasks well. Wang said that some of his previous ministries were not done well due to a lack of professionalism, and they ended.

Therefore, the church where Wang serves is determined to continue deepening their efforts in these four areas.

As for the future, Wang remained positive and optimistic. "In recent years, due to factors such as the pandemic, some churches have faced a decline, and even some have closed their doors. I believe that any church now needs to implement standardized management and pastoral care through classification and grouping. If we continue with the old approach of one-size-fits-all, a hodgepodge of activities, and loose management, Christianity will become a ritualistic religion and lose its meaning. The challenges the church faces today are not a bad thing in themselves, as they are pushing the church to break down into smaller groups and provide refined pastoral care to believers. However, some churches have not yet seen this situation, nor have they recognized the spiritual needs of believers. They only see surface problems. God will tear down bad things and then rebuild what is good."

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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