Singing with the Chinese House Church – Who Actually Needs the Power of Christ this Week?

China-Partnership-Singing-Chinese-House-Church-Who-Actually-Needs-Power-Christ-Week

The following was written by a Scottish-American pastor who recently attended a large conference for Chinese house church pastors and leaders.


Indulge me and try this experiment. Pull up the lyrics to “In Christ Alone,” “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” or “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Read them. How do they impact you and minister to you? How and where do they touch your soul? Don’t overthink it. Just go with your default answer and make note of it.

I was recently at a conference with 3,500 Chinese and Asian pastors and Christian leaders. As has periodically and regularly happened since the resurrection, the global center of Christianity has once again shifted. (It shifted from my home in Scotland and Europe, and now it has shifted from North America to the East and Asia.) I don’t know when that happened statistically, but it wasn’t too long ago. I don’t know why the Holy Spirit has moved on, but I think the Asian, and especially the Chinese house church has a role and a voice to speak to us in the USA about biblical Christianity. 

During the conference’s times of morning and evening worship, we sang hymns and songs that I am very familiar with – our songs, written in the West. They sang our songs in Chinese and I sang along in English. As we sang the classic (and some of the good contemporary) hymns of the Faith, a few things struck me in a new, powerful, and disruptive way. 

1) North American Christians (or at least me as one) primarily understand the struggles and sufferings these hymns reference as referring to our internal psychological and relational pains, i.e., the spheres of the therapeutic and of personal relationships, i.e., our hyper-individualistic realms. 


Never miss a story

Sign up to receive our weekly email with our original articles.

Maybe “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” is closer to my belief than I thought. Our primary reference for “suffering” is that my kids give me attitude (they don’t realize or appreciate that I’m a way better parent to them than my parents were to me and that is NOT FAIR), my spouse doesn’t adore me, and this world doesn’t affirm or reward me like I feel it should.

My struggle with loneliness and disappointment isn’t imagined. It is real. I do struggle. But . . . 

2) The authors of “A Mighty Fortress Is Out God” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” and the saints who have sung them for centuries, had an additional category of suffering beyond the inter-personal and intra-personal realms that you and I default to in our interpretations of these songs. That category of suffering was persecution. It infused the prayers that they offered to God as they passionately and desperately sang these songs. 

Go back through the lyrics of such songs and consider what the words mean to a Chinese Christian or pastor:

  • When they stand face-to-face with a state security policeman in their worship service, who is watching them, right next to the bread and wine, as they come forward to take the Lord’s Supper.

  • When the state security police are standing right there video recording their worship service and the sermon.

  • When they have had a knock on their door and have been interrogated for a couple hours by the police about their church and why they go to this church.

  • When their pastor has been imprisoned for nine years. 

These songs, our songs, they become very different songs then, right? Can I even call them mine now?

What percentage of Christians in our churches (including me) have had to cling to Christ amidst suffering actual rejection or scorn or loss for actually sharing the gospel with a real person or inviting a non-Christian to church? (Not including a church going friend who might be in the market for a better church.) How much of our “suffering for the gospel” is simply imagined and hypothetical, i.e., “If I said something or invited that person to church, I would probably be looked at weirdly or made fun of?”

In the USA, serious/conservative/true (we need a new word) Christians skip church on average two or three times a month. For what? Our kid’s sports, personal travel, etc. We skip church two or three times a month thinking that we can use that time better in the noble pursuit of being “great parents” or of “self-care.” 

In China, Christians keep going to church every Sunday even though they might be arrested. If they skip, it’s because they have been locked out of their illegal church worship space and haven’t found a new place yet. Even then, they worship together in smaller groups and together watch a livestream of their pastor’s sermon.

It pains me deeply – as it does many others – that “evangelicals” in the USA are hated because of how “evangelicals” (whoever they actually are) have been identified by the media at large with particular politics and politicians. We have a bazillion blogs written about this problem. But who, in the USA, hates “evangelicals” because they love Jesus, live contrary to the treasures and values of the world, and keep inviting me to their dang church? 

When we sing and declare that we are and will “take a stand in Christ,” what exactly are we standing for or against? 

What death am I fearing? 

What power of hell or scheme of man will I actually face this week?

Why do I need the power of Christ this week?

Or, let me ask it this way: who actually needs the power of Christ this week? Which Christians are actually pleading and begging for the power of Christ so they can stand up for Jesus this week? 

Perhaps the geographic center of Christianity shifted away from us because the geographic center of those who are praying, desperately, for Christ’s power has shifted.

Share This Story

Further Reading

henry-co-G0rae74NmvY-unsplash
The Internal Cross: A Pastoral Letter
Read More
hangjia-xu-3ZdSvOSlm4c-unsplash
The External Cross: A Pastoral Letter
Read More
billow926-ND4-6joi3t8-unsplash
Qingdao: How to Pray
Read More

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

Videos

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.

Videos

Stories from Shenyang

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.

Videos

Stories from Qingdao

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.

Videos

Stories from Xiamen

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.

Videos

Stories from Chongqing

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.

Videos

Stories from Nanjing

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.

Videos

Stories from Changchun

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.

Videos

Stories from Guangzhou

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.

Videos

Stories from Kunming

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.

Videos

Stories from Shenzhen

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. 

Videos

Stories from Chengdu

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.

Videos

Stories from Beijing

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.

Videos

Stories from Shanghai

give

A short message about partnering with us.