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Only 157 days Opened out of 828 days, How Is This Church Now?

Only 157 days Opened out of 828 days, How Is This Church Now?

An empty church An empty church
ByJosiah Li May 09, 2022
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Since January 23, 2020, when in-person meetings were suspended for the first time due to the "COVID-19" pandemic, a Chinese church has gone through 828 days. During this period, the church keeps switching between the two modes: "double suspension of opening and all collective religious activities" and "resuming in-person gathering", with only 157 normally opening days.

This is a church with more than 1,000 believers. Over the past two years, more than a dozen co-workers have been serving, and the offering is enough to pay the wages of the co-workers, and there is almost no loss of believers. How did they do it?

Recently, Gospel Times, an online Christian newspaper, contacted the senior pastor of this church to share the story.

A few years before the pandemic, the church had been busy building the place because of relocation, but the co-workers felt exhausted and in need of spiritual refreshment in the following years. 

Since the outbreak in early 2020, church co-workers owned many opportunities to improve themselves. The church trains co-workers from three aspects: spirit, soul, and body. The staff engages in spiritual practices by reading scriptures, praying, listening to God’s words, studying theology and reading spiritual books.  Recently, they have been reading the book Pastoring Without Tears together and discussing it.

To enhance their ministry skills, the church organizes counseling, philosophy, marriage, cultural lessons, as well as eloquence lectures. Among them, the church invites practitioners of TV stations and radio stations to give lectures on eloquence learning, help co-workers to pronounce right, and correct problems such as flat cocky.

Physically, the church arranges exercise time for the co-workers every day. The programs include jumping rope, kicking shuttlecock, badminton, and other jumping exercises.

When co-workers are equipped with these, they can serve the believers more powerfully.

As in-person gatherings are impossible, church co-workers expand online pastoring ways. The online pastoral activities are mainly carried out through live broadcast, WeChat official account and WeChat group. The live broadcast is mainly used for Sunday worship. The WeChat official account mainly shares spiritual content in audio and texts. A series of contents such as Bible Reading Plan, Bible Knowledge Q&A, Holy Word at Your Side, and 365 Grace Program has been published. The audio contents are recorded by professional Christians with radio and television station working experiences. The Wechat group focuses on communication and interaction with believers.

In addition to online pastoring, the church co-workers also conduct online visits by telephone and WeChat to contact and comfort weak believers.

"With a little greeting and a little care, they are satisfied, and they will respond with joy." The middle-aged female pastor continued, "When they cry, you should listen to them and pray with them together, then the believers will be comforted."

For Thanksgiving and Christmas festivals during the lockdown period as families cannot celebrate and worship together in the church, the church co-workers would record the holiday wishes for them, and lead them to worship through live broadcast and recording. They also give holiday gifts to every believer.

With the care, believers have been keeping the good faith and can actively contribute to and support the church's development.

There are about 100 church members who keep praying, who have been always praying for the church's growth and the weak believers.

The congregation gave through the Internet during the pandemic. If they did not know how to offer online, they would put donation money in the donation box and leave immediately. The donation during the pandemic is enough to pay the co-worker wages.

The church has a pastor, four teachers, as well as full-time preaching deacons and volunteers, all of whom are paid or subsidized. Further, in addition to the tuition, accommodation, and transportation expenses for the theologs, the church also subsidizes them some living expenses every month.

Even though there are over a dozen co-workers involved in ministries, the senior pastor still feels a serious shortage of workers. "There are not enough co-workers serving! A co-worker has to hold two or even three positions".

While ensuring online pastoring, the church has been looking forward to resuming in-person services. When the on-site gathering was resumed for the first time, a co-worker excitedly shared in the WeChat Moments, "After 465 days of waiting, hoping, and preparing, we finally ushered in the resumption of church service! We thank God for his untold gifts."

At present, churches in some China provinces have resumed in-person worship, while this church is still waiting due to COVID-19 control measures.

- Translated by Oliver Zuo 

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