SAN FRANCISCO- In the run up to the Gospel For China Conference 2006 at Chicago, keynote speakers are preparing for the themes to be explored and discussed. Rev. Jeff Lee, director of the Gospel Operation International for Chinese Christians USA office, who will be one of the speakers, shared with the Gospel Herald.
As Lee has been heavily involved in developing second-generation ministry, Lee emphasized one of the most serious problems that Chinese churches must tackle today- the huge lost of second-generation Chinese congregation.
Lee analyzed that there are several factors leading to the current crisis. First of all is the generation gap, while the second generation Chinese thinks that their parents or seniors are too Chinese-orientated in terms of culture, parents and seniors blame that the second generation Chinese are not obedient. Many second-generation Chinese therefore prefer to go to English-speaking churches rather than staying in Chinese churches.
A survey reported that around 90 percent of the second-generation Chinese will leave the church after going to university, and part of them have even lost their Christian faith, the trend is therefore very worrying. Another university study suggested that two-third of those who still go to church when they are freshmen have left the church after graduation.
Lee draws the attention to the Sunday School for second-generation Chinese. According to a previous interview, friends appear to be the most influential ones in their spiritual lives, followed by their parents and youth workers. Pastors and Sunday School teachers were ranked the forth and the fifth. Chinese churches must dig into the real problem of the Sunday School for second-generation Chinese, Lee said.
Lee concluded the three-steps process that has led young believers to leave the church, "First, the second-generation Chinese does not agree with their parents and seniors, so some of them are not willing to attend the church. After going to university, many of them have left the church. Lastly, among those who have remained in the church after going to university, they have clashed with the traditional Chinese culture and cannot develop their talents very well in Chinese churches. They left their church with great disappointment."
Lee criticized Chinese churches for neglecting the crisis over the lost of second-generation believers. He said, "Educating the next generation is the responsibility of parents, this is also one of the biblical principles." Churches must start to educate the next generation, he added.
In order to highlight the concern over the second-generation Chinese issues, this will be the very first time for the Gospel For China Conference to prepare a parallel English track alongside the Mandarin track. Apart from children and youth programs, the English track will target on the American-born Chinese youths aged 19-30. Special speakers and young Christians will be invited to give testimonies.
The Gospel For China Conference 2006 will be held at Crowne Plaza, near the O'Hare Airport in Chicago, running from Dec. 26 thru 30. Sponsored by Christian Life Quarterly, the theme this year is same as that of 2003 "Jesus Christ and Him Crucified", it stresses on returning to the core of Christian faith – the fullness of God’s Word.
[Editor's note: Chris Chan has contributed to this article.]