Qingdao: Locals and Outsiders


Editor’s note: This April, we are praying for Qingdao. Qingdao is a city of about 9 million, and is a well-known tourist spot and important seaport in northern China. To help us pray for their city, several Qingdao pastors shared some of their thoughts on the people and culture of Qingdao, as well as the needs of the local church.

Responses in this interview have been edited and slightly rearranged for clarity and length. This is the second of a three-part series; part one can be found here.


A City of Two Groups

China Partnership: What are the people of Qingdao like? What is the spiritual environment? What are the needs of your neighbors in Qingdao?

Jason: You can divide Qingdao people into two groups: those who are originally from Qingdao, and those who have moved to Qingdao. The two groups are quite different. Locals tend to live in the older parts of the city, or on the outskirts of the city. These people tend to be more simple, more plain, and are generally less educated. They are more conservative, and generally have less exposure to outsiders.

The other group, people who came from outside of Qingdao and now live here, tend to live in the more affluent and developed parts of the city. I think those who have come from other areas have more control of the city than the natives. Because the history of Qingdao is not that long, the influence of outsiders is quite apparent here.

You can divide Qingdao people into two groups: those who are originally from Qingdao, and those who have moved to Qingdao. The two groups are quite different.

The spiritual environment in Qingdao can also be divided into these same two groups of natives and outsiders. Each of these groups has their own distinct characteristics. Local churches have a long history in Qingdao. They are very stable, and exert a lot of influence on spiritual lives without acting very actively. House churches led by outsiders have been slowly growing and developing their own spiritual atmosphere. These two groups are very distinct; if you were to worship or serve in one group, it would be a very different experience from doing so in another.

Local churches proceed slowly. They are more conservative, careful, and slow in the way they minister. They walk straight on the path in front of them. Newer churches are growing spiritually, and are clearly trending as a growing percentage of Qingdao churches. There is some tension, and perhaps even competition between the two groups. As the two groups interact, it exposes the problems in each. Ultimately, I think this is a good thing, and is helpful to both kinds of churches.

Thomas Lu: Some older churches have heritage from the Local Church [Watchman Nee] and Jesus Family. But although they have these spiritual roots, nowadays they don’t emphasize this.

Because the history of Qingdao is not that long, the influence of outsiders is quite apparent here.

Needs of Qingdao People

Wu Qing: In the past few years I have learned there is a large group of autistic people in Qingdao. There are many special teachers geared to serving this group, and some parents come here for their children’s education. Within China, Qingdao is a center for special education. There are many groups focused on caring for these children, and some of these include Christians who minister to the needs in this community.

There are many young adults who want to stay in this city after they finish their education here. One common struggle is the economic challenge of earning a decent salary. There are not a lot of high quality jobs, such as in the IT sector.


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One of the highest-stress groups is families with children, and in particular mothers… They are stretched pretty thin.


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Within Qingdao, there are a lot of people who have left the general northeastern China area and moved here.

Robert Chan: One of the highest-stress groups is families with children, and in particular mothers. Mothers face social expectations that they will push their children to succeed in school. They are expected to take their kids to special classes, so they can get into a good elementary school, then a good high school, and then a good college. Many of these women work full-time, and are also caring for elderly parents. They are stretched pretty thin.

In the last two or three years, there has been a phenomenon in China known as “run.” People are tired of various things, including the pressure. This has always existed, but now it seems like it is on steroids. This is not just something occurring among non-Christians, but is also happening among Christians, including leaders and co-workers in the church. Some of our best people are leaving for other places.


All of the names used in this story are pseudonyms to protect the identities of the pastors involved. Both Jason and Wu Qing are pastors in local Qingdao house churches. Thomas Lu is a pastor with a burden to help the house church develop missionaries who can be sent to house churches inside and outside of China. Robert Chan is a cross-cultural worker who serves the church in Qingdao.

Pray for unity and cooperation between churches in Qingdao, especially between those led by natives and by newcomers to the city.

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Further Reading

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Shanghai: We Need More New Churches
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Shanghai: To Run or Not?
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Christian Education: Jesus and Chinese Culture
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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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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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