COVID-19 Is a Chance for U.S. Churches to Learn from the Church in China


Editor’s Note: As coronavirus spreads across the United States, Christians face circumstances unprecedented in America: how can we build the body of Christ when gathering together is severely limited or impossible? This question, although new to the U.S., is one Chinese churches have been wrestling with for a while – not just in their battle with COVID-19, but for years in the fires of persecution. The answers they have developed are ones churches in the West deserve to hear. 

One of China Partnership’s goals is to serve as a bridge between Western and Chinese churches. As America deals with COVID-19 in the coming months, we will be sharing resources from Chinese pastors, thinkers, and laypeople as they grapple with this and other trials. We invite you to learn from China with us.

“We never imagined churches in China and the U.S. would share common, realistic circumstances as quickly as we do today,” a Chinese church leader recently shared, as more than 60 participants from ministries across the U.S. gathered online in a meeting planned to help American churches learn from the Chinese house church’s experiences facing the coronavirus. “By the Lord’s providence, Chinese churches have walked before the U.S. churches and have learned much in the past several months…under the stress of the coronavirus, we share this common moment. Help us to learn from each other.”

The Bible says Jesus, who was perfect, humbled himself to learn and grow when he came to earth as man. Luke 2:52 says, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” God became a man who learned from others. As American Christians face drastic changes to life and fellowship introduced by COVID-19, we have a special opportunity to follow Christ’s example and learn from the experiences of others.

The epidemic is showing the world’s interconnectedness in a tangible way most alive today have never experienced. Christians are called, even more than others, to bear one another’s burdens. No matter where we live or what language we speak, we are one in Christ. Humans of every stripe struggle with ethnocentrism or myopic thinking focused only on issues directly confronting them. But as the entire world reels, this is a particular opportunity to display the overarching unity believers have in Christ, and to learn from the experience of China. 

Never miss a story

Sign up to receive our weekly email with our original articles.

“I have been telling people for the past several years that there will come a time when the American church is learning profoundly from the Chinese church,” said a former missionary to China who is now an executive director for a large PCA church in the States. “Institutional Christianity is now dying, if not dead [in America], so we are going to need to learn how to thrive as a maligned minority in our society, like they have for many years. There is a chance we’ll get to persecution one day, but even if we don’t, we’re going to need to employ a lot of the Chinese church’s methods.”

The online meeting, led by a Chinese house church pastor, was a perfect example of this. During the meeting, a Chinese pastor shared about how they had begun to use Zoom as a tool for conducting church services, small groups, and training online. There was little fanfare; it was a simple and practical meeting. Yet it represented something much bigger: a chance for American churches to begin being tangibly blessed by the Chinese church’s skill in building online communities.

After all, the COVID-19 crisis is not the first time Chinese believers have had to adapt: Chinese believers have long been used to creative expressions of church fellowship. “They actually started to do this [online gathering] under persecution. Some churches were demolished by the government and they could not have Sunday service,” shared “Pastor Zhang.” The technological know-how gained through the fires of persecution, prohibitions on in-person gatherings, and most recently COVID-19 can now bless the global church. 

“They’ve been having to leverage technology for the last 20 years circumventing governmental restrictions on worship,” the returned missionary said. “When I was there, much of our energy was spent trying to simply figure out how to worship in an unrestricted way, many times over virtual private networks online. Now there are [other tools] they have been leveraging on a very high level.” 

As COVID-19 has progressed, Chinese churches have used technology not only to care for the existing church, but have begun outward-focused online evangelistic meetings reaching thousands of people, said Pastor Zhang. They have continued building community virtually, even as people were separated physically. “We ask people to put on their Sunday clothes and have the whole family gather before the screen. After the worship service, we ask everyone to turn on their video so everyone can see each other, greet each other, and say hello.” 

“They take seriously the precious time they have together,” said Jeff Kyle, China Partnership’s VP of Operations and Advancement. This focus on the communal nature of the church was a contrast to the highly polished presentations which can sometimes be valued by highly-resourced American churches. “During coronavirus, we have the opportunity to glean from the church in China what God has been showing them about the nature and purpose of church.”

Christians are assured that nothing – including illness or persecution – can destroy God’s church. American believers seeking God in the midst of coronavirus can be assured his plans and purposes will stand. May the unity of the church increase across borders, cultures, languages, and earthly divisions, and may the U.S. church be willing to humble itself and learn from its brothers and sisters in China who have gone before us. In this way, may U.S. Christians look more like Jesus and his global Bride.


COVID-19 Circle.jpg

More COVID-19 Resources

We’ve put together a special page devoted to ways we can learn from, love, and pray alongside our Chinese brothers and sisters during the coronavirus pandemic.


Share This Story

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



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.


Stories from Shenyang

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.


Stories from Qingdao

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.


Stories from Xiamen

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.


Stories from Chongqing

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.


Stories from Nanjing

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.


Stories from Changchun

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.


Stories from Guangzhou

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.


Stories from Kunming

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.


Stories from Shenzhen

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. 


Stories from Chengdu

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.


Stories from Beijing

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.


Stories from Shanghai


A short message about partnering with us.