The trend of the development of Chinese missions has changed while the number of churches is blooming in Mainland China, according to experts in mission.
Urbanization is the main cause for the changing face of missions in China. As the economy in China has been advancing in tremendous speed in recent years, the population has shifted from rural areas to cities for employment. By the end of 1999, the total number of cities in Mainland China reached 666.
According to official statistics, it is predicted that the urban population will be around 6.3 billions, which is 46 percent of the total population. This has brought the challenge of setting up more churches in cities, rather than just in rural areas, the Sowers International China ministry director Luke Zhang said on a recent mission conference.
In 2000, there are around 135,000 churches in cities with a total of 6,750,000 Christians, thus for each church, there are around 500 people in average.
A number of problems faced by urban churches are highlighted by Zhang, such as environmental pollution and poverty. A lot of villagers with low education level are attracted by the development of the cities and they have taken the chance to migrate to cities to look for job. However, not many of them can secure their living due to immense competition. Most of them may get jobs with very low income, long working hours and heavy workload, which could have brought spiritual burden.
The second generations of these workers have also experienced difficulties in their lives. Many of them cannot afford to go to schools due to poverty. They are often neglected or even discriminated by people living in cities as they are originally from less developed areas, so they have identity crisis, Zhang explained.
According to Zhang, factory or workplace-centered evangelistic effort is most efficient and urgently needed because people from higher social caliber usually cannot understand their difficulties. It was proven to be very successful that some Christian businessmen have cooperated with mission organizations and organized some Christian events for their employees.
One of the main concerns for evangelism among these workers is the lack of qualified leaders. Most of the Christian workers have not received spiritual training, have no basis of faith and have not received any theological education, thus they are unable to lead others. Zhang urges to pray for the evangelistic work among the workers in Mainland China.
"Churches in China are standing at the crossroad. It’s a very crucial time to determine whether China will revive or not. The number of Chinese churches is growing but the real churches that are founded firmly on the Gospel are very few. We must go back to the basics and ask for the mercy of God," Rev. Morley Lee, the chairman-designate of the Chinese Coordination Center of World Evangelization (CCCOWE) said on the same mission conference.