In recent years, as part of China's urbanization process, city churches rise gradually, not only in top tier cities, but also in second tire cities and provincial capitals. More and more believers get involved in ministry.
Brother Liu believed in God when he was a graduate student and then studied at a house church theological seminary. He served conservative house churches and reformed churches in several cities successively, and he was invited to be a preacher in a church recently. He usually wrote down his thoughts of church development.
In the interview, he stressed the importance of theological innovations of city church, reform of church system and communication with other churches. Besides, he talked about common features of young pastors and the styles of church they liked.
Brother Liu frankly admitted the limitations of his thought. Nevertheless, his sharing provided us a fresh and real angle of view to think about the developments of city church.
CCD: Beside the theological thoughts, what else does the church need to pay attention in China?
Liu: About the construction of inner system, city churches should establish a proper system of decision and management. Because people come different places might have some conflicts between multiple opinions. I prefer to Presbyterian system rather than bishop system or patriarchal system, especially when the society becomes more and more democracy.
Connection between city churches is also important. I served in the Central-South and East of China and find out that city churches are less connected to each other. But some ministries cannot be done alone, such as the earthquake disaster relief in Sichuan in 2008. Pastors also can share and discuss the views of the trend of our times.
CCD: So, how to balance the relationship between the social service and the inner construction?
Liu: It's a hard one. Social service is a bridge to connect the outside people with the gospel. A century ago, the great missionaries, such as Samuel Pollard and James Outram Fraser (Chinese 富能仁), not only preach the gospel, but also did some educational and health work. It was the production in special time and difficult to replicate nowadays. On the other hand, it is a good idea to establish some groups for brothers and sisters. It gives them a sense of belonging and a place for help.
CCD: What do you think about the theological equipment of the preacher nowadays in city church?
Liu: As I see it, the theological equipment of the preacher is much better than before. They have received theological education more or less. It is said Chinese church is anti-intellectual, but I think that most of believers desire for theological equipment. And they care about the quality of preachers and whether if the preacher has ever studied in a theological seminary. Some veteran preacher also starts to equip themselves by intensive theological training.
There are many theological seminaries in China nowadays, but some of them are lack of certifications and experience. This phenomenon needs immediate attention.
CCD: Besides theological equipment, do preachers in city church have any other equipment?
Liu: They know little about other fields. If the preacher's knowledge is too limited, it is hard to find out a point cut to preach the gospel.
CCD: Compared with the previous generation, what are the key features on young preachers and believers?
Liu: I think young preachers and believers have a stronger thirst for knowledge of the Bible. They get the knowledge from the veteran missionaries and the Internet. The videos and blogs of Stephen Tong and other preachers really affect them. Besides, they want to apply the knowledge to their lives. So they sometimes don't like to communicate with too much religious terms.
CCD: You personally studies theology and serve the God after your graduation. What are the special marks in your church? There are many preachers graduated from university nowadays. What do you think of this situation?
Liu: I'm just starting out. I think the preacher needs to keep a low profile and be a teacher and a friend with those believers. It is much easier to be close to the believers with the notions of equality in this age. I meet many preachers from famous universities. They have good theological equipment, extensive knowledge and fluent English level. But they are lack of social practice and do not experience the career pressures. They need to be more mature to face with the complicated interpersonal relationships.
Translated By: Yang Ming