China praise and prayer

I haven’t had the energy or time to post new entries during summer school, but I just read this encouraging article about the rise of Christianity in China in Time magazine. I taught English in the university district of Beijing from 1990-92, and I can hardly imagine the phenomenal growth of the Shouwang church there. Let’s remember these brothers and sisters who go to church knowing they’ll be arrested, and thank God that nearly 10% of the Chinese are now Christians.

Here are the most encouraging paragraphs from the article:

With its 40 Biblical reading groups, choir, catechism, its faithful (typically members of the new bourgeoisie — professors, doctors, lawyers, students, and even Party members), Shouwang gains dozens of new converts each month. For the regime, it is the strongest symbol of the wave of religious conversion that has swept over the country of late. Urban, educated, disgusted by the “red” discourse served by the media, and fed up even with the cult of consumerism, the new, Christ-conscious Chinese upper class is on a moral collision course with a government that it perceives as soulless.

The numbers speak for themselves. A survey conducted in 2006 suggests that about 300 million Chinese (31% of the population) practice a religion. Government estimates put that number far lower. Among Chinese religious practitioners, two-thirds declared themselves Buddhists or Taoists. The remaining third (100 million people) are Christians.

A leaked report dating from the same year suggests that the real number of Chinese Christians is closer to 130 million — up from just 5 million in 1949 when Mao came to power. Roughly four-fifths are Protestants. In the past 60 years, in other words, the number of Chinese Christians has multiplied by a factor of 25. They now make up between 7%-10% of the population, meaning that Christianity is quite possibly the second religion in China.

5 Comments

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  1. That’s awesome!!!! But isn’t 5 million to 130 million a 26 fold increase in number of Christians?

    I used to be so stoked about the growth of the Church in the East and South, but then lately have been hearing all sorts of buzz-kill stuff about how it’s Pelagian, heterodox versions of Christianity that are growing in Asia, Africa, and South America. It’s nice to hear some good news about the spread of the good news…

    BTW, when you were there, did you have any interaction with the Three-Self Patriotic Church? Or with members of the PCB? (SIC?)

  2. Zach:

    I attended a few services of the Three Self Church, but of course could not understand much. I usually attended the international church in Beijing, and even was able to preach there a few times. It was a uniquely wonderful experience to worship with a variety of nationalities and denominations in one place. The only downside was that a few of the charismatics were a bit aggressive in their attempts to convert the rest of us to their viewpoint. But they were still great people. I attended a few services of underground churches as well, though this is generally not a wise thing for foreigners to do. It may call attention to the group, which is the last thing they need.

  3. Mike.
    You are awesome.
    That is all.

  4. I agree that the story of Shouwang is an encouraging one. But in many ways it is a very unique church in China. Most Chinese Christians are still poor, working or lower class, rural people. They wouldn’t be treated as well as the Shouwang people are being treated if they did the same things.

    Its awesome that you were able to spend time in China back in the early 90’s. I’ve been here since the early 2000’s and one of the biggest things that surprised me and that has shaped the way I see ministry here is the discovery that the 100 million or so non-ethnic Chinese (500+ ppl groups!) are still way less than 1% Christian, and some with 0 known believers.

    So please keep praying for China and sending pioneer missionaries this way!

    For His Glory,

    Eugene

  5. ragingrepublican July 25, 2011 — 10:25 pm

    I love hearing reports of the Chinese church.

    I spent last summer working in and traveling through Asia. While I was there I heard an estimate from the underground church that they believe their numbers to actually be closer to 300 million professed Christians. Of course I don’t have an official source or a scientific survey to back what I had heard, but it is at the very least encouraging to hear that the Gospel is spreading like wildfire among the Chinese people.

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