The Chinese Church and the Culture, Part 2: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow


Editor’s note: Yang Mingdao is the collective pseudonym for Chinese voices within China Partnership. This post is from a talk given by a Chinese theological teacher and trainer at a gathering of those interested in China. It has been edited from transcriptions of the original talk. Make sure you catch up on the first post and check back for the whole series!

We are here to celebrate God’s work in China. Two thousand years ago, the gospel was the foundation. That living water is still providing today. To give you a bigger picture of where we were yesterday, where we are today, and where we might go in the future, let’s look at an interesting thing that happened a few years ago in the light of Chinese history.

In 2015, China’s President Xi Jinping visited the British government in the U.K. Do you know the date he arrived in London and the date he left? He arrived in London on October 18th, 2015, he signed an agreement on the 23rd, and he left the U.K. on the 24th.

If you roll it back one hundred fifty-five years, the British burned the Old Summer Palace on October 18th, 1860. The Beijing Convention [which further opened China to Western trade and is a marker of resentment and humiliation for China to this day] was signed on October 24th, 1860.

What happened in those one hundred and fifty years?

In 1860, the British government wanted to open China for commerce with the West. But the Chinese emperor did not want to trade with Britain. The two sides faced off in Beijing, and the British won. After more than one hundred fifty years, President Xi brought a large commercial group with him to sign a different treaty in London.

There are huge changes happening in China; every ten years, the country is different. Church planting, church growth, gospel maturation, and evangelism are happening in this context.

I am going to give you three pictures: one from my youth, one from a few years ago, and one of what the future could be.

I was born in Beijing and grew up in a house church there. I started to pray when I was four years old. My father is still a pastor in Beijing. This is my general background.

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When I was young, around eighteen or so, we would have worship every Sunday that I can remember. Worship usually happened early on Sunday afternoons, from 2 to 3:30 or 4 pm. There were no more than twelve people in the room. In that setting, we could only mouth hymns with our lips; we were not supposed to let our neighbors hear we were there and worshipping. We had to hide ourselves. It really was an underground church. After the music, someone would share a passage; they would read it and share their perspective. This was our Sunday worship. We did not know where we would meet the next time; sometimes it was the same place, sometimes it was a different place. Someone would tell us where to go.

Fast forward to now. Just a few years ago, many church leaders and volunteers, including myself, gathered. There were almost two hundred people there. We openly held a national forum. People used their ID cards to register at the hotel and attend the meetings. We sang hymns — loudly — and it was a great celebration. The third morning, the PSB raided the room and stopped everything. But several local house church pastors stood up to them. These pastors told the PSB, “We organized this conference. We already informed local officials, and they know we are meeting here.” These pastors argued and fought with the PSB.

Eventually, the PSB — there were about twenty-five of them, all strong guys — gave in and retreated. They closed the room so no one could slip out, but they negotiated with the house church leaders and agreed we could continue our meeting and finish by the end of the day.

Toward the end of the day, they were nervous we would not wrap up on time so they could go home. We told them not to worry, that we would finish. We finished by 5:30 and came to say good-bye to the PSB. They asked us, “We were pretty friendly to you, right?” We agreed. We shook hands, and the PSB told us, “We will be welcomed next time.” We were then dismissed, very peacefully. This is the same China, twenty or thirty years later than my experience in my youth.

What is in the future? We do not know. The Lord is doing something great in China. We believe these circumstances of persecution — or what you in the West refer to as persecution — are the best time for faith to grow. Only when faith is under test is it true faith. Only when following Jesus Christ means sacrifice is it true following.

We want to see churches planted and grown. My dream is that by 2040, twelve percent of the Chinese population will go to church on Sundays. I do not even mean that twelve percent of Chinese are Christians. If we reached this goal, Christians would still be the minority, which is healthy for us. But we do want to see more people going to church on Sunday and worshipping God. I am praying for this future, and we are working to this end.

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Further Reading

Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
Read More
Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
Read More
Nanjing: A Welcoming City of Newcomers
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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