Editor’s note: This interview with a Beijing pastor was originally published in 2018. Although the situation in the city is changing, many of the things he shared about finding time to share the full gospel, and trying to find an entry point for the gospel, still ring true in many ways.
Stressful and Busy
Pastor: Young people have a very busy lifestyle, and their rhythm of life is becoming increasingly stressful. They live in different districts in Beijing and spend each day in constant busyness.
China Partnership: This means you have many opportunities to come into contact with these young people and share the gospel with them. So in the process of sharing the gospel with them, what do you think is the biggest challenge?
Pastor: I feel that the biggest challenge in sharing the gospel with these young people is getting ahold of their time, because they don’t have time to listen to your gospel. They don’t have the time for you to share the gospel completely, especially the allotted time that we have with them is not enough to present a full understanding of the gospel. Thus, the biggest challenge for me in serving these young people is coordinating our schedules and spending time together.
The biggest challenge in sharing the gospel with these young people is getting ahold of their time, because they don’t have time to listen to your gospel.
CP: Is this challenge particular to a certain profession, or does this apply to young people in different industries?
Pastor: Their jobs are not the same, they come from different professions. Some are teachers, some work in restaurants, some are television station hosts. Basically, they come from all kinds of industries. Our church has around one hundred and fifty brothers and sisters; they are all from different fields.
CP: In these different industries, they work in different environments and probably share different values. Does that bring new challenges to sharing the gospel with them?
Pastor: These young people live in multi-cultural work environments, and it’s truly a challenge for them to receive the gospel. In fact, for all the young people that live in Beijing, their thinking is quite pluralistic. There are plenty of external influences on their value systems each day. In my opinion, young people in this day and age, especially the young people living in a great metropolis, are not clear about their value systems. Even though some may claim they have a value system, in reality, I don’t think they do because they can’t distinguish what is right or wrong. In such an environment, it is a hindrance to the gospel.
Gospel Entry Points
CP: Could you please give an example or a recent testimony from believers in your church?
Pastor: Recently, there is someone from the finance industry. Since I work with young people, I look for opportunities to grab hold of their time, so our church started workplace small groups. I go to them during their lunchtime and spend one and half hour with them.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
I have been connecting with this brother in the finance industry for about a year, but he remained pretty resistant. He’ll have lunch with me, but he wouldn’t talk religion with me because he feels that religion cannot practically help him materially. But after meeting and talking with him for over a year, through illustrations, or simply repeatedly sharing the gospel, the seed slowly began to grow in his life. Although it seemed to have taken a long time, this brother finally came to our church, and he was gradually able to serve the church.
Young people in this day and age, especially the young people living in a great metropolis, are not clear about their value systems. Even though some may claim they have a value system, in reality, I don’t think they do
CP: Could you please elaborate on how his thinking has changed, what made him willing to come to church?
Pastor: This brother shared that he was experiencing some life-changing moments. The main thing that changed his life was having the word of God repeatedly spoken to him. The word continuously and repeatedly painted a picture of faith in the gospel of Christ Jesus. In the beginning, he was quite resistant to the gospel and didn’t wish to listen to the gospel. But my church’s evangelist and I took every opportunity to share the gospel with him and repeated the message over and over to him. So he gradually came to accept it. But I believe that the Holy Spirit had been working through the entire process, touching both his heart and life.
In the end, he went through a crisis: his mother passed away. In the most difficult time, it was God’s words that comforted him and gave him hope. He saw the frailty of life; a life can depart from this world at any moment. So he decided to turn to God.
CP: In the beginning, he thought that the gospel could not bring any fulfillment materially. Were there any other mental blocks?
Pastor: There were a few major ones; first, he had an incorrect understanding of the gospel. He had heard a lot about Christianity, about Christians, and Christmas, but he did not have a good and complete understanding of the gospel.
Second, when he was distracted by the world and the environment that surrounded him, he didn’t have the mental energy to know the gospel.
Last, he had a weak knowledge of Jesus Christ and the faith. In reality, when a person truly understands the core of the gospel, how Jesus Christ has borne our iniquities, and given us a hope for the future, people will be attracted and conquered by the power of the gospel. So it’s a process to experience the gospel.
In order to communicate the message of the gospel, we need to find an entry point. If you don’t meet their needs, regardless of what you say, they won’t be willing to listen. Therefore, we first need to pray for the person with whom we’re sharing the gospel
CP: For our brothers and sisters going out to share the gospel with young people, what advice do you have for them? How do we present the gospel clearly?
Pastor: For the members of our church, how to share the gospel clearly in its entirety with young people is a great challenge. And for every church. Our church has used different methods and different materials, but I feel that in reality these methodologies and materials are not very helpful when it comes to reaching the majority of young people. They don’t have time to passively listen to your explanation of the content of a brochure or a DVD. Therefore, we need to efficiently and quickly transmit the message of the gospel to them.
I feel that in order to communicate the message of the gospel, we need to find an entry point. If you don’t meet their needs, regardless of what you say, they won’t be willing to listen. Therefore, we first need to pray for the person with whom we’re sharing the gospel. As we pray, we are also preparing to communicate the saving grace of Jesus Christ to that person at the appropriate time.
CP: Therefore, beyond material things, we still need to learn what the real need in their heart is.
Pastor: Yes, there is a real need in every young person’s life. When we find that point of need, that most insecure and vulnerable place, we can introduce the gospel.
Wang Jianguo is the collective pseudonym for a group of Chinese house church pastors thinking about 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.
Pray for Beijing Christians to be patient and caring as they search for gospel entry points in the lives of those around them.