SAN FRANCISCO- Since the 1990’s, churches from the ‘Third Mission Field’ in major cities in Mainland China has been flourishing. Not only has it brought unlimited opportunities in the development of urban churches in Mainland China, but it has also helped prepare a strong reserve force for overseas missions.
Pastor Luke Zhang, director of Chinese ministry from The Sower International, shares opportunities and challenges with churches from the ‘Third Mission Field’ in major cities in Mainland China during a recent gathering organized by Atlanta Chinese churches. He wishes that overseas Chinese churches would understand the significance of evangelization in major Chinese cities and offer support to help Chinese Christians proclaim the gospel inside as well as outside China in the 21st century.
Churches from the ‘Third Mission Field’ have its distinct features. We can say they are the extension of family churches in urban cities, explains Pastor Zhang.
Although they are similar to traditional family churches in some aspects, they are different. It neither is difficult for intellectuals to neither integrate into general family churches, nor can they integrate into official three-self churches. Therefore, they formed a new kind of urban church, which is known as the ‘Third Mission Field’.
Churches of the ‘Third Mission Field’ bring great vigor and vitality to urban evangelism of China, but the biggest challenge they encounter is the lack of shepherds that are able to guide these intellectuals. They must be qualified to deliver Bible studies, personal faith-sharing, practice of faith in daily life, mission overview, team service and counseling, says Pastor Zhang.
In the light of the challenges, Pastor Zhang hopes that overseas Chinese churches can pray and offer support for nurturing talents that satisfy the needs of churches of ‘Third Mission Field’. It is expected that it will become an efficient and easy way to benefit China missions.
In addition, China in the 21st century is equipped with golden opportunities to proclaim the gospel inside China and abroad.
First of all, China has been gaining its international impact over the last few years; secondly, China occupies a key position in the mission field including Jerusalem, Middle East, Minor Asia, Europe, America and Asia; thirdly, China bears a good relationship with Islamic world; fourthly, Chinese churches are becoming stronger in human resources as well as materials. With the determination to evangelize the entire world, Chinese churches will be used by God greatly, Rev. Zhang said.
Despite all these advantages, Pastor Zhang summaries the challenges that faced by Chinese churches today in four key points.
Firstly, many Chinese churches are pursuing big buildings and organized churches; in contrast, family-style meeting points with heart-to-heart communication among believers are decreasing gradually; secondly, though mainland evangelical assemblies grow more in number compared to the past, believers’ enthusiasm for proclaiming the gospel is fading.
Thirdly, while the number of coworkers is increasing, their time spent on caring for the lost souls is decreasing; fourthly, though the number of missionaries from the rural areas is growing, coworkers that are willing to serve the immigrant workers has not increased.
“Nowadays materialism and money worship are prevailing, preventing Christianity from being marginalized and becoming an empty word is a serious challenge to Chinese mission ministry,” says Pastor Zhang. “May Chinese churches keep the teachings and principles of the Bible under the guidance of the Lord.”