Shanghai: We Need More New Churches

Editor’s note: This May, we are praying for Shanghai. Today, we continue our conversation with five Shanghai pastors. They discuss how their city has changed over the last several years, since the beginning of the Covid pandemic and as oversight of faith in China has become more stringent. Many of the pastors referenced the difficult economic situation within Shanghai and China as a whole. They talked of how people are emigrating out of Shanghai, even while others arrive from smaller provinces. In this period, there are many ministry challenges, but also lots of opportunities. Responses in this interview have been edited and slightly rearranged for clarity and length. This is the second of a two-part series; part one is posted here.


Shanghai Challenges and Fears

China Partnership: As you minister to people in Shanghai, what are the common challenges, fears, and struggles you encounter? How can we be praying for your neighbors, friends, and coworkers?

Zhu Liang: The first challenge is that, with the increase in social control, the living space for Christians has also been restricted. Many public numbers related to faith have disappeared, spiritual books are hard to buy, and there are fewer and fewer Christian schools. Some churches have divided into small groups to meet in homes, some churches meet online, and some churches have even disappeared. Restrictions on the Christian faith have brought obvious challenges and pressures on churches and on individual believers.

Second, the pursuit of money and success is still prevalent, even within the church community. With the pursuit of money and success come long hours and pervasive anxiety.

Third, parents are happy to invest time and energy and money in their children. But even as they do this, many parents worry about their children’s future.

Some churches have divided into small groups to meet in homes, some churches meet online, and some churches have even disappeared. Restrictions on the Christian faith have brought obvious challenges and pressures on churches and on individual believers.

Fourth, cell phones and all kinds of electronic devices pull away everyone’s attention. Because of this, there is a lack of time for both personal and family devotions.

Fifth, congregations are scattered in different parts of the city. To some extent, this distance hinders relationship-building among congregations. It also makes it difficult to practice face-to-face pastoral care outside of Sunday.

None of these challenges are unique to this age. The Bible makes it clear that we need to go through hardships, crosses, and sufferings in the process of putting off the old man and putting on the new. I hope God will use these challenges to mold and purify his people.

Xu Hao: Challenges and fears include fear of unemployment and future insecurity. People are afraid they will not be able to maintain a decent life and keep up their professional record. There is anxiety about children: their kids’ grades, decency, and that their children will bring honor to the family in the future. There is also a lot of sorrow over broken relationships and interpersonal conflict and tensions. These tensions and stresses exist both inside and outside of the church.

The number of people coming into the churches is more than the churches can handle. Planting of new churches is slower than the growth of older churches. Because of this, I have been overloaded with work.


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Pray that the Lord will strengthen us or will raise up more brothers who are willing to become pastors. Pray that these men will desire to be godly, and to serve God’s people with the Word of God!

Jiang Weilai: Campuses and students’ hearts are becoming more closed. Increasingly, it is more and more difficult for churches to rent permanent premises for their meetings. Church members are facing greater challenges to their faith than before, because of environmental persecution and also financial difficulties. There are challenges in church committees and churches themselves are facing financial challenges. In some churches, there is a lack of workers. Pray that churches will recognize and become aware of these challenges. Pray that, through the Lord, they will be able to respond wisely.

The number of people coming into the churches is more than the churches can handle. Planting of new churches is slower than the growth of older churches. Because of this, I have been overloaded with work.

Gao Wan: The ever-changing urban culture exposes preachers to two kinds of temptation. The first temptation is to over-contextualize and pander to the demands of the culture, even to the point of comprising truth. The second temptation is [in the opposite direction], holding on to ancient truths and self-righteousness, causing the church to lack influence and lose its sense of mission.

Pray for neighbors that the Shanghai church is reaching out to. Pray that at all times, in both peaks and valleys, in good times and bad, the church will be a community that walks alongside neighbors. May the church offer encouragement, speak honestly, believe the truth, and be loving. In the midst of everything, may these neighbors find eternal life, and may broken relationships be restored.

How to Pray

CP: How can we be praying for you, your church, and your family?

Zhu Liang: Pray for a deeper understanding of the gospel, and a deeper union with the risen Christ. Pray for the Lord to strengthen his church with the gospel. Also, pray for the Lord’s grace and mercy on my, my church members, and on unbelievers in my family.

Huang Aiming: Pray for the planting and multiplication of churches. The number of healthy churches is still not keeping up with the number of believers who are growing and in need. Pray for an outpouring of more pastors and church planters. Ask God to raise up more brothers who will aspire to become pastors and will be willing to be yoked to that end.

Pray for churches to better respond to the concerns and longings of unbelievers, and that churches will be able to direct these concerns and longings and meet them with the gospel. Pray for the church to be a witness of unity and love for one another. Finally, pray that Christians in Shanghai will make the Great Commission their concern in this life – not the white-collar, sophisticated life of the city.

Jiang Weilai: Pray that brothers and sisters will value the Lord’s Word and will experience change and growth in the gospel. Pray for commitment and unity in the church to prosper the gospel. Pray for the Lord to prepare and raise up more faithful elders and deacons in the church.

Pray that Christians in Shanghai will make the Great Commission their concern in this life – not the white-collar, sophisticated life of the city.

As for individuals and families, pray for the Lord to overcome difficulties. Pray that families will grow in character and ministry, and that believers will be faithful and insightful workers.

Pray that the Lord will comfort my wife and give her strength in the midst of difficulties, and that we, as husband and wife, can rely on the Lord together. Also pray for our children to love the Lord more, and to better participate in church ministry.

Gao Wan: Pray that we will not lose faith in the gospel, even in the midst of all kinds of temptations, challenges, failures, and also successes. Pray that I will be sent out as a preacher to be a faithful steward, but without trying to control the outcome.

Please pray that our church will persevere in worship. Pray we will not lose the love that started it all, or the mission God has entrusted to us.

Finally, pray that family life will encourage young people toward marriage, not throw cold water on them. This holds for both believers and unbelievers.


Zhu Liang, Huang Aiming, Xu Hao, Jiang Weilai, and Gao Wan are pseudonyms for Shanghai house church pastors.

Pray for Shanghai pastors to faithfully steward and serve their churches without trying to control the results.

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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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