Twice a month, we share a short reflection from a Chinese pastor on the nature of the gospel. Though we often post longer articles, there is a richness to short and concise thoughts.
Wang Jianguo is the collective pseudonym for a group of Chinese house church pastors thinking and writing about issues related to the spread of Christianity in their nation. They are committed to preaching a grace-centered gospel, developing resources for the church, and loving China’s urban centers.
I feel that the spirit of the Reformation has significant spiritual meaning for the house churches that are now in a phase of transition.
First of all, our society is in a process of change, and we share this process of change with Europe’s experience five hundred years ago. How the churches in Europe engaged the changes in society and acted as salt and light during the Reformation can serve as great inspiration to the house churches in China today. The most important spirit of the Reformation is to return to the Bible. The modern house churches today need to return to the Bible, to look for the ancient gospel.
Of course, two hundred years of Chinese church history shows us that we have faced a lot of trials, and even persecution, yet God uses his church to testify to his gospel – and there are many good testimonies. But no matter how wonderful and moving those testimonies are, we still have to return to the Bible today. Churches in China today need to propagate the spirit of the Reformation of going back to the Bible – to find the gospel of grace in the Bible, to renew our church by the gospel, in order to serve society.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
This is my belief: the great challenge that the Chinese churches face today is to combine our organic gospel movement with the organization that is the institutional church, so that both can function together in a balanced manner. It is well known that we have had tremendous development of the Chinese house church due to the gospel movement, but the bottleneck is that it is a movement primarily driven by lay Christians. At the same time, in recent years many churches have begun to rise up in the cities to become more institutionalized. Of these two movements, one is an organic movement and the other is a development of systems. Asking how they can be balanced together in order for the gospel movement to progress is a particularly big challenge.
How can the gospel movement continue to develop? How can the development of systems help this movement grow more quickly? The theology of the gospel that we have today is coupled with our emphasis on a kingdom perspective. We emphasize that the gospel is not just a dynamic movement in itself but an expansion of the kingdom, emphasizing the development of institutions. I believe the challenge that this theology of the gospel brings to China will be a helpful one.
[Our] movement is a movement that is very blessed by God, and it is a movement raised by God. It is not an institutional movement, neither is it a denominational movement, but a movement which God himself raised.
I encountered this theology of the gospel in 2012. At the time, I was in a spiritual valley – I had just planted a church and there was tremendous pressure from all sides, including tensions with the mother church. When I encountered this theology of the gospel, it transformed my life. When I realized that the gospel is not just for unbelievers, but is also for the renewal of our lives, it significantly transformed me; so much so that the theology I learned in the past finally “landed,” allowing me to now know how to apply it in pastoral situations. This led to the building of a gospel-centered team involving my leadership team and me, and our church began to form a presbytery with the churches in the surrounding area in order to help and build one another up. The entire city was blessed as the churches united to build a gospel ecosystem, slowly beginning to bless other areas and churches.
Five hundred years ago, God raised up the Reformation movement in Europe, and he is still doing great things today in China, manifesting his glory through a gospel movement. It is my hope that brothers and sisters can participate in this movement of the gospel, so that we can see the glory of God in it and participate in what he is doing in his kingdom.
Translation provided by the China Partnership translation team.