Going Deeper: Praying For Gospel Depth in China’s Churches

gospel depth in china's churches

“Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.” (Matthew 13:5-6)

Without roots, plants wither and die.

Over the last two decades, the Holy Spirit has been sowing a lot of seeds in China, and there has been incredible growth: tens of millions heard the gospel, and unregistered churches began worshipping openly and in greater numbers. But this relative peace did not last, and since 2018 the house church in China has faced ever-increasing challenges. First came a wave of mounting persecution: new religious regulations, harassment, and arrests caused the church to begin asking how it could best carry out its mission within this new reality. Then COVID-19 hit. The impact of the pandemic has been even larger than that of persecution, for it has enabled the Chinese government to force the church into isolation. While the West will eventually return to “normal,” the effect on the church in China will be long-lasting. The damage has been done, and it is going to get worse.

Now, in this new decade, the house church in China finds itself at a pivotal, generational, historic moment. It faces a critical question: how deep are its roots?

(If the church in China is not rooted deeply in the gospel, it will wither and die. The current challenges will prove too much for it. It will be choked.)  The advance of Christianity in China in the past 150 years has been under this pattern of periodical severe and lenient social political environment.  God refines and purifies His church during persecution times, and multiplies her afterwards.  We see the current severe harassment and mild persecution time perfect to do deeper and wider.


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As we enter 2021, our first overarching prayer request at China Partnership is that the gospel would go deeper in the church in China. We have been blessed to witness tremendous breadth this last decade; but let there be depth! May the church in China not be merely a man-made kingdom built for man-made purposes, nor a plant that grows fast and withers. Rather, we pray for the church to hold fast to Jesus Christ himself. We pray for deep roots. 

In this way we hope that, by God’s grace, the church will not merely survive these challenges, but thrive. As a Chinese pastor shared last year, God is using these hardships to refine his church, to call them to repentance, and to grow them deeper. 

Thus, by God’s grace, perhaps the current season of hardship will not crush the church in China after all, but rather deepen their understanding of what the church is. Rather than focusing on the physical gathering place of worship, they will be pushed to become more people-defined. Rather than focusing on large Sunday services, they will form deeply-connected communities fellowshipping during the week. Rather than focusing on a breadth of theological head-knowledge, they will encounter Christ himself in Scripture and be transformed. If these things happen, then the churches that rise up during this dark time will not only survive, but will flourish long after the storm has passed.

Indeed, these shifts are already taking place: within China, church members that cannot gather together on Sunday are moving into the same neighborhood together, sharing meals, going to parks, and spending time in each other’s homes. Communal life and intentionality are on the rise. What’s more, pastors are aching for depth. This is good: for, if the gospel movement in China is to have an impact that lasts throughout multiple generations, its leaders must mature in the gospel. This maturation must be marked by sound theological depth, genuine personal piety, and passionate ministry competence. The presence of the Lord and his Kingdom by Christ’s poured out and decent Spirit must be real among His people. Simply put, church leaders must not merely be charismatic speakers or knowledgeable theologians: they must be continuously transformed. Doctrine is not enough: they must have Jesus himself, and more of him!  

Looking forward to the next five years, there is great hope for the church in China. 

Even in the midst of trials, there is a hunger for depth. While pragmatic solutions are needed, the longing for theological reflection and the gospel is even greater. Our desire is that China Partnership will do whatever we can to support, love, and encourage the house church’s leaders in this time of hardship, pushing them deeply into the gospel, and live out that life in union with the ascended Christ.

As we pray for ministry in China this year, will you join us in praying that the gospel would go deeper? Pray that the church in China will not be a plant that grows quickly and then withers. Rather, pray that its roots continue to go deep into the soil of the gospel. Then, though the wind and rain may buffet it, it will never be destroyed: it will grow tall and strong, empowered by nothing less than Jesus Christ himself.

 


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Further Reading

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Qingdao: How to Pray
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Qingdao: Locals and Outsiders
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Qingdao: Good Soil for the Gospel
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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

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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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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 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

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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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