While secularization is one of the major challenges that the global church is facing, Chinese churches has also been particularly concerned. What is the main cause of secularization and how can churches confront this growing challenge?
In the February issue of Canadian Chinese Churches, a monthly newsletter published by Chinese Coordination Centre for World Evangelism (CCCOWE), the main topic of discussion of the articles was ‘Secularization’ and an interview was conducted with Rev. Sha-guan Lee.
In defining secularization, Lee stated that “the actual influence of secularization on the churches is conformity, using worldly models to deny and reject God and to build the value systems upon man, and looking down on God’s status. People look to the modern day values as standard and the culture of churches has been heavily influenced.”
Some of the examples in recent years, he stated, include hot discussions on issues of homosexuality and abortion have already forced most Christians to back away and many Christians have remained silent, but the reality is that many of them have probably acquiesced to the world’s value beliefs.
In response to the growing crisis of churches becoming secularized, Lee said that “the root of this problem still lies within the churches’ spiritual life; if the spiritual devotions of the believers and churches are healthy, have an intimate relationship with God, and have a deep understanding of God, then there wouldn’t be the problem of secularization; but today we are not as straightforward on the topic of sin, believers do not have a genuine and actual experience nor possess the quality of life to follow the Lord. These cause the churches to be without any remedies in face of secularization.”
When asked about what should the church leaders do to prevent the church from becoming secularized, Lee answered that “churches today must communicate more often with the society, but there must be a bottom line and be able to persuade and convince different opinions, and through communication lead others closer to God.”
Church leaders must also examine their own faith, said Lee. Leaders must have a very firm faith, don’t follow after the trend, new philosophies, but they must maintain a Biblical stance. In addition, they must put efforts in teaching; while there are many new ways of thinking, leaders should have the courage to face them even if the leader is not equipped, but with God-given understanding, experiences, and actual faith, they should teach.
In response to the question of how can believers raise their spiritual sensitivity of not becoming secularized, Lee stated that believers must rely upon God’s word to gain victory.
“If the believers are unclear about their faith in the Lord, unconcerned about spiritual matters, do not obey God’s word completely, then as human being it is natural to be secularized,” he said. “We can see the same thing happening throughout history: if the believers cannot recognize their identity, know their original image, the role that they play today, how the future will be, then how can they maintain a proper posture in faith, let alone understand secularization and how it affects us?”
Reporter Ruth Wong contributed to this report.