China: The Continuing Enigma

It is important for the global church to understand that China matters for us all.

I’m frequently asked, “What is the current state of the church in China?” China is big news in the West, on many fronts. Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping are nose-to-nose in a global economic poker game. Who will blink first is what pundits debate.

In the U.S. and Canada, major television networks and newspapers have focused on issues facing Christians in China. Of particular interest is the Zion “house church,” also known as an “unregistered church.” Zion, the largest unregistered church in Beijing, where I preached some months ago, was recently shut down.

Such actions lead one to wonder if the church is generally under attack by the government or if these are just one-off events. Of course, churches are always under surveillance. While visiting a number of house churches in five cities, I asked if the government knew of their activities. Mostly I’d get a smile with, “Of course, we’re in China.”

Then recently, I met with more than a dozen house church pastors. I wanted to know if the current government crackdown was simply a ripple of minor religious consequence, a wave smashing about but eventually wearing itself out on the cultural shoreline, or if this was a rising tide.

(Note: what we referred to as the “underground church” is now called “house church,” although very much above ground. House churches are not registered with the government, in contrast to the “registered churches” which, while generally evangelical, are under varying levels of influence and control by the government.)

Be careful

China-watching is dangerous, even for the most informed. Snapshots too easily turn into a kind of movie, as if occasional shots …

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