Chinese Pastor Roundtable: Do Not Serve God and Money

Editor’s note: This series provides a listening ear on an intimate conversation between China Partnership staff, the Chinese pastors they work with, and various American church partners. Many people sat around the table for the conversation, but to protect the identities of those present, we have chosen to use the following pseudonyms to represent the three perspectives involved. Catch up on earlier parts of the series and enjoy this last installment of the series!

杨明道 Yang Mingdao is the collective pseudonym for Chinese staff within China Partnership. 
王建国 Wang Jianguo is the collective pseudonym for a group of Chinese pastors in the unregistered church participating in a grace-centered gospel movement.
春笋 Chunsun is the collective pseudonym for American individuals, churches, and foundations ministering to Chinese people. 

Part 1

Chunsun: I’ve been trying to formulate my question a little bit… it’s very encouraging that [this movement] started from within China and is led by Chinese. It’s very encouraging. When you were talking during the conference tonight you shared how there is a Western influence to have a mega-church, and you recognize that is not healthy. So I’m wondering, is there a risk for Western donors, givers, to provide too much assistance? And should there by more assistance coming from within China itself? 

Wang Jianguo: This is also a mindset problem. A pastor came to the States and he told the church in the States that we have 100,000 believers, we want to do missions, so you pay the bill and we will send people. When he spoke like that, his understanding was that the American churches have a lot of money and we Chinese can produce the human resources. If he has 10,000 people and they cannot go out to do ministry, and we cannot support our missionaries, then it’s not a healthy church. The healthy church is holistic: spiritual life and donations or offerings. If you offer money, it means you are wholly offering yourself. 

We’ve been worried about this. I have heard some stories that when the money comes to China from the States, if you’re not using it wisely, it brings disaster for churches in China. Sometimes we have churches split because of the money, sometimes we have pastors commit sin because of the money. We’ve heard about these stories. 

It may take ten more years [to fully sustain and manage the church’s financial resources], because in the culture of China we don’t recognize [our responsibility to] society. [The only focus] is the family. When people come to the church, they bring this mindset with them. When they realize that we need to offer money, some people leave because they cannot tolerate it. They thought the money belonged to themselves. They think, “I should pay my own bills.” Because of this kind of mindset, we’ve been teaching and encouraging our brothers and sisters, “Do not serve both God and money.” So in these years we have made progress, and we are able to have many ministries.

Yang Mingdao: Do your churches have external support?

Wang Jianguo: No. It’s all by ourselves.

We don’t have support from overseas, even in the very beginning. We now have 20+ ministers and the church can take care of their pay. But for our seminaries, half of the cost is covered from overseas. This is because the seminary students often come from very poor backgrounds and their churches cannot afford the tuition. For this kind of money we need to do fundraising overseas.

Yang Mingdao: In general, a mature church at some point should be self-sufficient and support itself. Some ministries may need different support. But the church itself should be self-sufficient from a financial standpoint.

Chunsun: I guess I’m wondering is there coaching that we can receive from the Chinese church that can tell us how can we actually avoid creating some kind of inappropriate dependency on us, but actually help the church become the church, without us harming it? We would love to learn and over some period of time, we would love to receive such coaching.

Wang Jianguo: Last August, I went to a ministry group in [another province]. They have more than one hundred ministers in that group, but they split, because one of the foundations in the States gave a bunch of money to the ministry. What was the money for? It was intended cover the living costs of those hundred ministers for one year. So they received the money. But nobody knew about it, except one leader who took the money and he didn’t tell the others. He opened a supermarket with that money. So, one year later, the foundation went to that place. They interviewed some of the ministers: did you have any improvement in your life, did you receive any financial support? Those ministers said, “No, we didn’t.” So obviously he committed sin. But he didn’t confess. He thought what he did was right. He wanted to earn money, it was an investment, he wanted to improve his life even more. But nobody accepted his explanation. He got kicked out, excommunicated. It’s a true story.


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We should be very, very careful. The church in China can afford the cost of living and it’s a church’s obligation to support its own ministers. We should live on the gospel when we share the gospel. If a foundation wants to support China, we would prefer more resources.

Yang Mingdao: Can you close with a prayer for us?

Chunsun: I sure can, let’s pray.

Father, what a great joy it is to be among brothers and sisters here, to hear how you’re at work in the hearts and souls of that great country of China. Lord, we thank you for these men and their leadership. We thank you for their heart to seek after you. We thank you for the vision that you’ve given them for the church, and we just pray that they would continue to rely on you for their guidance and wisdom as they seek to serve the people in China. Lord, we pray that you would be with them, you would bless them and their families, and that you would continue to give them guidance in all they do. We thank you for this opportunity they have to share, and we pray your blessing on this evening. We pray this in your great name. Amen.

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Further Reading

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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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Nanjing: A Welcoming City of Newcomers
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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