Christianity in China

News of note. Christianity Today recently featured an extended article on the house church movement in China called Great Leap Forward.

Two comments struck me as ones I would particularly like to work through further.

Firstly, in response to this comment…

Yet
the West has achieved and sustained a greater degree of liberty than
any other culture. Hsu wondered what the West had that China didn't.
"Before freedom comes, you have to have a foundation. In the West that
foundation is Christianity."

How true do
you think his reading of history is? Are there any signs that
alternative religions or secular bodies are creating new institutions
promoting justice and liberty? Do alternative religions or secular
bodies truly provide a less adequate foundation for justice?

Secondly, in response to this comment…

I
see the young leaders from the house church in China planting churches
in southern Europe, western Europe, and Calgary and Toronto. I see them
everywhere. So it's now the era of ministry from China.

Could
it be that Asian, African and South American missionaries may have the
more significant long term impact to Christianity in the West than the
emerging church?

9 thoughts on “Christianity in China

  1. Doesnt Philip Jenkins write about this theme of the efforts and influence of the huge numbers of non European/American missionaries in The Next Chrisendom?

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  2. Yes, its a great book and I wish more people would read it. There is much data to suggest that the demographic centre of Christianity is shifting drastically; that globally it is becoming post-Western, and that even locally in the West it is becoming post-white. Christianity is growing globally, but not evenly, and the influence of white Western Christianity is diminishing. We do however still have much more money and education so a massive capital-labour split has opened up. This is no doubt contributing to current tensions in the Anglican communion.
    The question I keep asking myself is, is the emerging missional church a sign that western Christians are finally beginning to learn from the overseas missionary experience, or is it the last gasp of a western church trying to revive itself from within? To what extent is the emerging church a missionary movement and to what extent is it a revival movement is a crucial question here. I am afraid to say I see many signs pointing towards the bulk of it being the latter. I take Scot McKnight’s critique seriously and I think there is way to much focus on post-evangelicals and not nearly enough on pre-Christians.

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  3. In response to your second question, it seems to me that missionaries from non-Western cultures bring first-hand experience of many of the things the emergent church is trying to learn how to do — live in community, not depend on institutions, be free of materialism, etc. Whether we are willing to learn from their experience might be the difference between a last gasp attempt at reviving the church and a true missionary movement.

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  4. Matt,
    Have you read “Back to Jerusalem”? I can’t remember … but there is a tremendous vision within the Chinese church for them to take the gospel outside of China. Very powerful little book.

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  5. Thanks for sharing the article.
    I think it’s definitely in the works, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.
    There’s still an issue of having indigenous leadership, even in the west. If anything, the emerging church is learning from and being inspired by the church in the south/east, but I’ve yet to see the real rumblings of non-westerners directly planting churches here…

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  6. Peggy, no, but sounds exciting.
    Lon, well I’m certainly seeing it happening in western Sydney where I live, not just in terms of church plants but also in terms of church growth. The church I am involved in lets out space to a Korean church plant, and half of the people in my Christian counseling class are Asian, many from China. Moving onto the local Catholics, last time I attended a service in Parramatta a significant portion of the church members were Philippino. I think our local church statistics would be a lot worse if they weren’t being bolstered by migrants from countries experiencing a boom in Christianity. Jenkins suggests American stats are similarly being bolstered by migrants from South America.

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