Chinese Pastor Roundtable: Once You Taste It, You Cannot Return

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 check back later this week for the final installment!
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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. 

Chunsun: From some of the things I’ve heard, you’re experiencing the same challenges we’re facing in the United States with keeping the heart of the next generation. You have seen, and we have learned, that God’s grace is awesome and the gospel of that is very important. I would suspect, though, that the challenge is after you go to [the movement’s] trainings. What is the follow-up or the coaching to keep it going three months or six months later? I’m curious, what do you do to help young pastors or new pastors who have been to training to check in and keep that progress on track?

Wang Jianguo: The first thing is that the mindset has been changed. The previous kind of spirituality, [the ideas about] what spirituality is, have been [changed]. The second thing is realizing and having the ability to identify my own idols of my heart. We all have different gods that are not the Biblical Jehovah God. We start to see the internal, small gods be eradicated. The real God is going to enter our hearts to become the real God for us. When we have God in our heart, we are going to see things from his perspective. 

I’ll give you one example of a minister in my church who sinned. If I had not been transformed by the gospel, I think my morality and my piety, or the way I think I am a moral and pious person, [would have led me to] kill him. I would have kicked him out of the church. But when I started to look at him from God’s perspective, I saw that his weakness is also my weakness, his sinfulness is also my sinfulness, because we are one body. This great sorrow made me serve him; he is a soul, so I can love him in Christ to restore his life. And now he is a pastor again after several years. So we have a great relationship. 

Yang Mingdao: I think back to your question, what I figured out in the past three or four years is that the gospel itself is God working in your heart. The gospel never reaches your heart by the message alone; it always reaches your heart by the Holy Spirit. That is the way the Holy Spirit reaches people’s heart: through the gospel, who God is, who Christ is, and what he does for us. That is powerful.

When you have a focus on the gospel, its power itself is transforming. Whenever we hear the gospel, whenever you taste the sweetness of the real, true gospel – the resurrection, the cross, the ascension – you are looking for the eternal rest [that comes] after his return. Once you taste that, you cannot return. You reach a point where you can never return. That sweetness will always attract you in that direction.

You preach the gospel to your own heart, as all of these people have shared. You feel it’s another regeneration in your life. I will not say that’s a regeneration – we were saved by the gospel, but our sinful humanity, our fallen humanity, is at its core anti-gospel, so over the years we can lose the gospel. And then you find it again. It is so sweet. So we just stick to that. That is what we are seeing in these pastors and all the leaders, again and again and again. You build on that foundation: God’s word and his Holy Spirit in the gospel.

Yes, there is a great uphill battle, there is still daily repentance, but you have a foundation. People know their sinfulness will not transform them. There is still  daily repentance and going to the cross. That is something we have for follow-up. But it’s not the follow-up that makes [repentance and growth] happen; the gospel makes that happen. Follow-up can only facilitate that process. For me, I am now coaching three to five pastors from time to time, and pray for them daily or weekly. The hope is some key leaders are going to be transformed and they will be models to help other people. 

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Further Reading

Nanjing: Loving People Through Prayer
Read More
Nanjing: Love Under Pressure
Read More
Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
Read More


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.


  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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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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