Nanjing: A Relational Gospel

Editor’s note: This June, China Partnership is continuing a year of praying for cities around China with a month of prayer for Nanjing. We begin this month of prayer by re-publishing an 2018 interview with a Nanjing pastor. He leads a church full of college students and young professionals, and says his church has changed the way it shares the gospel over the last few years. Because it is harder now to share the gospel with strangers, his church now focuses on equipping Christians to evangelize within their existing relational networks.

This article has been lightly edited and condensed from the original version.


A Young Church in Nanjing

Liu Ming: Let me introduce myself. I’m from Nanjing. My church is fairly young; the average age of members is 25. About a third of our attendees are college students, while the rest are young professionals who graduated from college in the last one to four years.

China Partnership: It must be a very energetic church. How do you proclaim the gospel in such a young church?

Liu: Our church was built on the foundation of a college fellowship originated by [an overseas missionary group]. At the inception of the church, we adopted the Four Spiritual Laws and used them to share the gospel on campus.

As the church gradually matured, we were involved with some classes and training on sharing the gospel in urban settings. As sharing the gospel with strangers becomes increasingly difficult in China, we now focus more on helping and training believers to live out their faith in their network of relationships. We help them live out their Christian stories in their real lives and share the gospel with all around us.

As sharing the gospel with strangers becomes increasingly difficult in China, we now focus more on helping and training believers to live out their faith in their network of relationships.

CP: Could you elaborate on some specific methods you adopt for sharing the gospel?

Liu: In the past couple of years we hosted a training on how to share the gospel, mainly focusing on two categories. The first is sharing the gospel with strangers. This type of sharing has to happen through interactive communication. In the past, we would share the gospel and our new friend would sit and listen; nowadays people may not have that type of patience. Therefore, we coach our brothers and sisters how to share the gospel by starting with some other topic of conversation, such as work, marriage, or relationships.

Sharing Through Relationships

The second is sharing the gospel with people they know well, such as their colleagues and friends. This came from church planting classes, which included training on how to share the gospel. The training would ask the believer to enter his own life story and find his idols. Then, it challenged the believer to reshape his life with the better and perfect solution in the gospel, thus coming up with a personal course of gospel sharing.

We also gave some examples in the class. For instance, how we can figure out someone’s real needs in life, whether we are encountering someone who is “morally sound” or someone who lives a prodigal life. We initiate dialogue centered around the person’s needs and bring the gospel to them.


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CP: When you discover this new way of sharing the gospel, what changes do you see compared to the previous ways of sharing the gospel?

Liu: This provides a great benefit for our brothers and sisters, as now they must live out the gospel before they share it. Before, when we shared the gospel with strangers, they did not need to understand how we live out the gospel. All we needed to do was to talk about the gospel.

Now, we focus on sharing the gospel with those around us. Believers first have to bear witness for the gospel at their workplace, and then, through relationships, draw others close to the gospel by sharing a different type of lifestyle. I’m not 100 percent sure of the responses our brothers and sisters get, but they keep bringing friends to the church.

CP: Based on your observations, is the church influencing your city in other aspects?

Liu: We have not explored this aspect of ministry very much.

Believers first have to bear witness for the gospel at their workplace, and then, through relationships, draw others close to the gospel by sharing a different type of lifestyle.

CP: Could you reiterate how your way of evangelism is affecting the city that you live in?

Liu: I think the biggest impact of our evangelism on our city is by providing genuine care and comfort from heaven to the souls of city people who pursue material comforts.

CP: What are some of these pursuits? 

Liu: When I look at material pursuits, I think of commercials from different cities in China. All these commercials promote venues for dining and entertainment. With the popularization of smart phones, most people spend their time after work reading WeChat Moments and chatting with friends online. From what our brothers and sisters share with me, many people around them live in a state of hopelessness because they feel their lives have no purpose.  If a person centers their life around work, the purpose of work is nothing but surviving and buying a house and settling down in this city. When someone is not receiving any care, their soul can be very impoverished.

Remember Us in Prayer

CP: This interview is being done mainly so brothers and sisters and pastors in America can know more about the Chinese church. Do you have anything to say to believers in the U.S.?

Liu: First, I am extremely grateful for the brothers and sisters in the U.S. who have shown great concern for the development of the churches in China. Churches in China are facing crises and challenges in many areas. A few of these areas include the lack of church leaders and of people with experience in building up churches. This is especially true for the great number of urban churches; we are still learning how to pastor an urban church.

In different ways, we are all called to be witnesses for Jesus Christ in God’s kingdom.

We are also in great need for the American brothers and sisters to remember us in your prayers. Ask God to lead us in all these crises. We are all one family in Christ. We also pay close attention to the American churches, who may be facing different needs. In different ways, we are all called to be witnesses for Jesus Christ in God’s kingdom, and we should constantly remember, communicate, and help each other in our prayers.


Liu Ming is a pseudonym for a house church pastor in Nanjing.

Pray for young believers in Nanjing to rise up and help lead and serve the church.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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Nanjing: A Welcoming City of Newcomers
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Nanjing: A Relational Gospel
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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

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