Do We Love Them?

Editor’s note: This throwback post was written in 2016 by a Mainland Chinese pastor and his wife. The couple live in a major city, and minister primarily among young Chinese urbanites. They have served in ministry for more than 20 years.

The authors reflect on how evangelism in China can no longer be based on a simple gospel presentation, but must be relational and genuine. While the situation has changed much since 2016, the trends these authors are pointing to have continued in many ways. Their suggestions continue to be good ways for Christians — in China, but also in the Western world — to think about sharing the gospel with their neighbors.


How is Evangelism in China Changing?

The evangelism situation was pretty good in China five to ten years ago; but now people’s hearts are more closed and it is harder to share the gospel, especially on campus. People do not trust others easily, and they do not open up easily with strangers. In our church, people are not motivated to share their faith when they have not experienced great change in their own lives. If they feel a significant change, they will do it. But if they do not feel God has changed their lives greatly, they will not be motivated to share.

About ten years ago, it was easy. If you brought a small booklet, people were willing to listen. They were curious about what was in it. But now, if you share the Four Spiritual Laws, nobody wants to listen, because they kind of know it. Somebody already shared it. They think, “You want to introduce me to something, but I have no time and I’m not interested.” They feel you are presenting an advertisement, maybe even propaganda, and will not let you share.

About ten years ago, it was easy. If you brought a small booklet, people were willing to listen. They were curious about what was in it. But now…they feel you are presenting an advertisement, maybe even propaganda, and will not let you share.

Ten years ago, if you shared the Four Spiritual Laws with 100 people, maybe 25 would pray to receive Christ. But nowadays, out of 100 people, maybe four will pray. In good areas, maybe seven; in other areas it may be less than one. Think about how much effort you must give to meet that one person, after sharing with 100.

Big evangelism programs are no longer very useful. Before, at Christmas or Easter, we would have a party and ask brothers and sisters to ask their friends. Most times the political situation was okay, so we could have a hundred or more people. Now, the political situation is not the same, so they cannot allow such big meetings. Even if you could have a big gathering, people will still not easily come to the decision to pray to receive Christ.

Before, when we had a Christmas party, a lot of people would tear up when the presentation was given. But now, we have big parties and not so many people come. Even if they come, it’s hard for people to stand up and say they want to believe in Jesus. The rate is much lower. The follow-up rate has dropped, too. This is reality.

It is getting harder to invite people to pray to receive Christ and be part of a congregation. We think there are many reasons for this.

The Reasons for the Change

First, it is becoming harder for people to trust each other. They don’t feel connected, even with friends, classmates, and colleagues. They don’t communicate deeply or trust each other. They interact during working hours, but they don’t have deep conversations in their private lives.

There is a lot of pressure on people in China. The work environment is such that people’s workloads are getting heavier, and they feel all their energy should be put into work or making money. If they have extra time, they likely want to play on their phones, sing karaoke, or eat great food to numb their feelings. They don’t want to talk about serious things. This is a big hindrance. If you talk about serious things, they think you are strange. They don’t want to feel pressure and face their spiritual situation.


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Evangelism is first about building a relationship. It is not a one-time event, but a lifestyle. It is a testimony lived in front of others. If we cannot live that, our words will be empty and no one will give us a chance to share what we believe.


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We think now is the time to build stronger discipleship. Most people don’t have close relationships with parents, friends, or anyone, including brothers and sisters in Christ. They need to learn how to build deep relationships so these relationships can help them grow in trusting people. This is an opportunity and challenge for the church. It is the church’s responsibility to help brothers and sisters counsel each other and help each other grow in Christ; not only in truth and thinking, but going deeper into the heart. When people really care about each other’s lives, they will want to build each other up in Christ in a deeper way.

When people break through, they go to the brokenness in this world and what they are facing in life. Then they will be bold enough to share real life, and they can face challenges and pray together to see how God can change us by bearing each other’s burdens. If they witness prayer and friendship in Christ – that brotherhood can really work among the fellowship – then they learn the real thing. Hopefully, they learn to share their lives and testimonies, using those experiences to tell their friends how great God is. That is powerful. It can help their friends see that God is different and the people who believe in God are different.

Evangelism is first about building a relationship. It is not a one-time event, but a lifestyle. It is a testimony lived in front of others. If we cannot live that, our words will be empty and no one will give us a chance to share what we believe.

Do We Love Them?

God not only wants us to care about what we believe, but also to care about the nonbeliever’s life. As a result, we think community service is important for evangelism. If we can join clubs or serve as volunteers in organizations, it will be helpful because we can be part of society. If we do not participate in society, we are disconnected from other groups of people, and they think we are separate.

We are not saints, but maybe we think we are saints. We need to go back to real life among nonbelievers.

Maybe small group of brothers and sisters can pray and think about how to do evangelism together. This can show society how we love each other, instead of just one-by-one holding a booklet.

Our church leaders started thinking our full-time workers needed to learn about community service. We needed to volunteer, so we could explore the evangelism situation and be interested in helping and praying for the community. We needed to be genuine – not just see it as a way to share our message, but challenging ourselves to love people in the community. We had to ask ourselves, “Do we really love and care about them?”

Many traditional ways of doing evangelism are no longer effective or safe. The best way is to live out your life and care for others’ needs. Be a real person, instead of sharing something they aren’t particularly interested in.

We started to do this, and brought others to experience it with us, too. We believe God will use those experiences to build relationships so we can really get to know how broken the nonbeliever’s life is. Hopefully God will use us, and open and trusting relationships among brothers and sisters, to be a testimony to show society the difference. This is important – not only sharing, but living out the message.

Many traditional ways of doing evangelism are no longer effective or safe. The best way is to live out your life and care for others’ needs. Be a real person, instead of sharing something they aren’t particularly interested in. When you live out a different life in a group, that is a great testimony. Maybe people will be interested in knowing why. That is a better preparation for God’s word to work in their lives.

We are not experts, but are trying to change into a new direction. We look for good examples of people doing this among Chinese churches. How are others doing outreach, and how do they care about others in a deeper and better and freer way, instead of just creating activities and doing evangelism? We are trying to live so God can use our lives to attract others. We are still learning and changing our minds. Please pray for us.


Brian is a pastor in a major Chinese city. He and his wife, Stephanie, are involved in church planting and marriage counseling. They have two daughters.

 

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Further Reading

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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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