Four things the West can learn from the urban Chinese house Church

Ripe grains of wheat.
(Photo: Deposit Photos)

(ChinaAid, Midland, TX—October 22, 2021) The segment “What Can the West Learn From the Urban Chinese House Church?” from the Mission Statement of The Center for House Church Theology, includes the following:
Chinese pastors plant churches and serve their cities amid growing persecution, with limited political rights and restricted public platforms. If the church in the West fears increased social marginalization, we should learn from churches that have been marginalized, remained faithful, and grown.

Furthermore, the estimated percentage of professing Christians in China has grown sixtyfold since 1970. If we want revival in the West, we should look to where the church is experiencing revival.

 

In one of the site’s published sermons, “Church in the Wilderness,” by Paul Peng with Hannah Nation, the authors assert that the essence of the house Church includes the following four components:


  1.  In its doctrinally conservative heritage, the house Church holds to the ancient gospel truth and exalts the Bible’s authority. 

    2.  In the house Church’s heritage of godly devotion and piety, it greatly emphasizes:


    • drawing near to God in the inner room, 
    • praying, 
    • dealing with sin and the old self, 
    • memorizing the Scriptures, and implementing other practices which reflect valuable sound, Scriptural spiritual exercises. 


      3.  As the heritage of the house Church aims to maintain the separation of Church and State, it  
           affirms that Christians accept their responsibility to be good citizens. It also notes, however, that 
           the doctrine and governance of the Church remain subject “only to the truth of the Bible and the 
           Christian conscience,” not dictated by interference from any other external forces. 


      4.  The house Church’s heritage “emphasizes the way of the cross,” and stresses that the way of 
            faith and the self-sacrificing way of the cross are the same. 

Paul Peng with Hannah Nation encourage the church in China, as well as the Church in the West, and any other church in the world that political or cultural forces attack:

  • continue to cherish the heritage of the house Church,
  • highlight/implement setting the Church, families, and individuals apart for God.

Not only does the heritage of the Chinese house Church help them and us face persecution today, it also strengthens the Church to resist secular influence. The following four ways relate to all of us:

  1. The spiritual tradition of the house Church focuses on dealing with sin and living a holy life, a precious, poignant point. At times, however, it allocated inadequate attention to the following, failing to encourage balance:
    • Experiencing spiritual rest, 
    • the joy of the gospel, 
    • and the hope of glory. 

  1. We need to clarify that union with God is achieved through union with Christ.

 

While the Bible does talk about being one with God, it teaches that we become one with God through Christ, the Mediator. In other words, the crucifixion of our sin is accomplished through union with Christ, and God’s richness in Christ is also available for us through our union with Christ. If I slightly analyze the narrative of the Chinese house church experience, I would say that Christ-centeredness still needs to be emphasized more; otherwise, union with God can easily be derailed toward the danger of mysticism. The house church insists that before serving others, we are served by God first. This is true. However, the idea that we can be served by God can easily become empty or deviated if it is not centered on Christ.

 

  1. We need to unify the experience of the inner room with the motivation for mission.

    In the Chinese house church, and perhaps the global church, much profound covenant theology and kingdom vision are still needed in order to sort out the relationship between the inner room and the field. The groups who actively seek the inner life experience pit human effort against God’s work, saying things such as, “Let go and let God.” They criticize those who seek legal assistance for the church as relying on human effort. They claim that those promoting religious freedom are engaging in political matters. They talk down to those who make plans for evangelism, saying to do so is merely human work; we should stop and wait on God.


Andrew Murray …made the often quoted statement, “Missions are not one of the activities of the church, but the only object for which it exists.”

               
God is not only the Lord of our inner life, he is also the Lord of our body, the Lord of culture and of the environment, and the Lord of history. We need to enter the veil of the inner room with this vision, so that it motivates us to go out into the mission field.

  1. Not just individuals, but the Church, must be united with Christ for times of persecution and hardship.


    The difficulties our generation faces today are not just about how individuals can adhere to their faith, but how the church as a community can keep the faith. In other words, what is the relationship between individuals being united with Christ and the doctrine of the Church? In the wilderness, in lack, in persecution, and in hardship, the call is not just to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love (Eph. 3:18) as an individual, but as a people together—[the Church—in the West, as well as in China].


    For us, hardship has arrived. For many, hardship is coming. May we be dispersed in various places, as grains of wheat buried in the ground, so that when the grain dies, it produces abundantly. May we be like dandelions, which seem to be blown with the wind, but when the next spring comes and the flowers bloom, they show their splendor on the mountains and in the plains. May the grace of the triune God sustain my fellow workers in all the places across China and around the world. May God be glorified in Christ and in the church throughout all ages, forever and ever.

     

              Amen.

    ###
If you were of the world,
the world would love its own.
Yet because you are not of the world,
but I chose you out of the world,
therefore the world hates you.
                                                ~ John 15:19 (NKJV)

 

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