This paper reviews historical and recent attempts by Chinese Christians to engage in their own mission movements. The first section looks at the origins of Chinese indigenous mission movements in tracing the growth of local churches during the Tang, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties. The second section focuses on Chinese Christians who pioneered and ignited the Chinese indigenous evangelism and mission movements—Mary Stone and the “Chinese Inland Missionary Union”, Andrew Gih and the “Bethel Worldwide Evangelistic Band” as well as other evangelistic bands that were established by Ding Limei and others to reach peoples in Northwest China and the borderlands. The last section looks at the current practice and prospects of indigenous mission movements and mission mobilization in China and the issues that the Chinese church must consider as it promotes mission.

Indigenous Mission Movements in China

By Steve Z

Mission Round Table Vol. 11 no. 3 (Sep-Dec 2016): 21-32

Introduction

Beginning in the 1990s and especially after the year 2000, the Korean church mission movement has motivated the evangelistic thinking of traditional Chinese house churches.[1] More and more churches from different house church movements have begun to recognize, accept, and promote “indigenous mission.”

Two enthusiastic slogans have become popular during this time. The first is: “The gospel entered China, the gospel is in China, the gospel sets forth from China” (福音进中国、福音在中国、福音出中国).[2] For the contemporary Chinese church, this slogan is grounded in the present, emphasizes opportunities, and challenges the church to its worldwide responsibilities. The fact that the Western church had already relinquished its role as the prime leader and sending base of missions by the beginning of the twenty-first century has given the growing Chinese church more reason to view this slogan as a source of pride and a motivation to carry out their gospel duties.

The second slogan, which has become quite widely known in the Western church, is “bring the gospel back to Jerusalem” (让福音回归耶路撒冷). According to Brother Yun, who has become well known in foreign circles after emigrating from China some years ago, “When we speak about ‘Back To Jerusalem’ we are speaking about evangelizing thousands of unreached people groups in places between China and Jerusalem. It is the destiny of the house-churches of China to pull down the world’s last remaining spiritual strongholds—and to proclaim the glorious Gospel to all nations before the Second Coming of our Lord.”[3] Since this movement shares much in common with the 10/40 mission strategy of the Western church, the “Back to Jerusalem” slogan has become very popular in the West.[4] Moreover, it has become the main channel through which the Western church has been introduced to Chinese indigenous missions. Even so, many western Christians find this goal to be quite different from their expectations of a missionary movement. So, while they are delighted to learn of the goals of its leaders, many have expressed doubts and concerns about it. How can we more accurately understand this “indigenous missionary movement” that originated in China and may significantly influence global mission? This topic will undoubtedly require a lot of attention from mission-focused research teams, especially from agencies that focus on China.

1. The Origin of Chinese Indigenous Mission Movements

If we consider the historical development of the gospel “entering China”, being “in China”, and “setting forth from China,” it is easy to see that from the perspective of the Chinese church “setting forth” is a relatively new phenomenon. Existing records suggest that Christianity “entered” the central plains of China no later than the Tang Dynasty in the sixth century. However, Christianity didn’t begin to “set forth” from China for more than a millennium, after China had passed through several thousand years of imperial rule and entered the republican era in the twentieth century.

Historically, when the Nestorians (涅斯多留, also known as “jingjiao,” 景教, “the luminous religion”) arrived in the central plain of China, they were well received by the people. According to the inscription on a memorial stele, Emperor Tang Gaozong (唐高宗) “founded brilliant monasteries in every one of the departments (chou). He further promoted A-lo-pen [阿罗本] to be Great Spiritual Lord, Protector of the Empire. The religion was spread over the ten provinces and the kingdoms were enriched with vast prosperity; monasteries occupied every city and the families enjoyed great happiness.”[5] Nestorians had particularly won the favor of Emperor Tang Taizong (唐太宗) who even invited the missionary Alopen to the palace with the result that “the books had been translated in the [royal] library and the doctrine examined in his private apartment [of the emperor].”[6] Although the Nestorians established churches and worshipped in China for several hundred years, the gospel never transitioned from “entering” to “setting forth” during the Tang Dynasty. The Nestorian church was completely wiped out during the anti-Buddhism political movement during the reign of Emperor Tang Wuzong (唐武宗).[7]

To be fair, one cannot criticize the Nestorian church for lacking missionary vision as the stele explicitly stated that “the true Way was preached and illumined . . . the Way is broad; its influence universal.”[8] Neither can one arbitrarily conclude that the Nestorian church did not adapt to the Chinese environment. From the arrival of Alopen in China, it took the Nestorian missionaries only 150 years before it could be said that “monasteries occupied every city.” Planting churches at this speed is astonishing even when judged by today’s standard.

Some may argue that the progression from “entering” to “being in” and to “setting forth” is a modern mission theory that does not apply to the Nestorian church. Even so, the theory was shown to work in the Tang Dynasty, though not by the Nestorians but by Buddhists who came to China around the same time.

The Tang Dynasty was one of the most culturally flourishing eras of Chinese history. It was part of the “golden days” when the major world religions freely spread their doctrines across the vast empire. They all, of course, faced the challenge of survival. Even so, Buddhism not only survived the storms of that era, but also gradually became a fundamental part of Chinese culture, especially as it impacted language and popular religious thinking. Buddhism thus made the transition from “entering China” to being “in China.” Moreover, Buddhism “set forth” from the central plains of China to reach the remote island nation of Japan.

From the perspective of mission history, we cannot evade the question of why Buddhism not only survived but also revived after the devastating meifo (anti-Buddhism) movement. How did Buddhism manage to profoundly influence the thought and culture of the Chinese nation and achieve the goal of being “in” China? Why did Buddhism attract monks from Japan so that they crossed sea and land to China’s central plains to “seek the Scriptures”? And at the same time, why was Syriac Nestorian Christianity, along with its claim that “the true Way was preached and illumined,” rooted out in an anti-Buddhism movement even though it was an innocent bystander? Not only did it fail to “set forth” from China, it could not even consolidate its presence “in” China.

The failure of Nestorianism does not mean Christianity failed in China. Several hundred years later, rule over the central plains passed from the Tang to the Yuan Dynasty. At the invitation of the Yuan Imperial Court, and after many failed attempts, the Vatican finally sent Giovanni da Montecorvino (孟德高维, 1246–1328), a Franciscan, to China. Montecorvino successfully set up the first Catholic Church in Khanbaliq (now Beijing) in 1299. When Montecorvino died some thirty years later, thirty thousand of the Khan’s subjects had believed in Jesus.[9] Sadly, this situation did not last. In 1368, the resurgence of Han Chinese and establishment of the Ming Dynasty resulted in the disappearance of Christianity for a second time in China’s history due to a lack of Han converts.

With hindsight, it is clear that the church established by Montecorvino and his Franciscan associates was mainly made up of Mongols and Semu, but not Han Chinese.[10] This is the likely reason why the Han Chinese, after the establishment of the Ming Dynasty, saw the Christian church as a foreign religion and drove it out. Six hundred years after the Nestorians of the Tang Dynasty, the Franciscans, despite their realization of the dream of “entering” China and setting up churches with a large community of believers in the capital city and across the central plains, failed to attain the goal of staying “in China” after the change in political regimes.

Even so, the Han of the Ming Dynasty were not innately opposed to Christianity. In 1600, three hundred years after Montecorvino built the Khanbaliq church, the Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci (利玛窦) arrived in the same city after overcoming many difficulties and hardships. By then, Khanbaliq had been renamed Beijing and served as the capital of the Ming Dynasty. Ricci had only ten years in which to spread Christianity in Beijing as he died in 1610. During that time he succeeded in unlocking the mainstream culture of the central plains. In an era when lixue (理学)[11] prevailed in the Chinese intellectual world, he led the outstanding Confucian Xu Guangqi (徐光启, 1562–1633) to be baptized as a Christian. This marked the first time a Confucian believed in Jesus. Moreover, Ricci not only used the Chinese language as a communication medium to publish “Tianzhu Shilu” (“天主实录,” “The true meaning of the Lord of Heaven”), he also enlisted the aid of Xu Guangqi and others to translate Euclid’s Elements and other Western classics. He further promoted the positive changes that the Christian worldview had brought to the human race. These endeavors not only produced a flourishing church with a large number of converts in the central plain of China—a scene reminiscent of Montecorvino’s work—but also succeeded in establishing a good social foundation for the church in a cultural environment that mingled the teachings of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Christianity, for the first time in history, was strong enough to prevent its disappearance in the wake of a dynastic change.

Xu Guangqi and Matteo Ricci

Not long afterwards the Ming Dynasty faded into history and missionaries such as Johann Adam Schall von Bell (汤若望) and Giuseppe Castiglione (郎世宁) won the favor and respect of the royal court of the Qing Dynasty. Even during the long period following the Rites Controversy (礼仪之争) when Christianity was prohibited by the Emperors and anti-Christian movements arose, the Christian faith was not erased from the central plain of China.[12] The Jesuit form of Christianity successfully “entered” China and achieved the goal of staying “in” China, despite many harsh trials. They set up dioceses in the country and its surrounding regions but, due to the limitations of their theology, they did not follow the Great Commission’s call to motivate the churches they founded to participate more deeply in global mission.[13] It is thus fair to conclude that although the third “entry” of Christianity into China realized the goal of staying “in” the country, the need for the gospel to “set forth” from China never entered the minds of the Catholic missionaries. Neither did they encourage the Chinese church to set out and fulfil Jesus’ Great Commission to preach the gospel “to the ends of the earth.”

The true roots of the Chinese indigenous missionary movement in which mission is taken as a commission (以宣教为使命) and evangelism and saving souls are taken as the responsibility of the Chinese church can only be traced back to the beginning of the Protestant missionary movement when Robert Morrison (马礼逊) arrived in 1807.

When Robert Morrison and other early Protestant missionaries arrived in China, the kind of challenges and difficulties they had to face in this land which had closed itself off from the world and where Christianity was prohibited were no less than those faced by the Catholic priests who had preceded them. Even so, Morrison completed the most important task since the days of Ricci, that is, to translate the Bible into Chinese. The Catholic Church, by comparison, did not see the need for a Chinese Bible until the 1920s and it was not until 1968 that the Sigao version (思高圣经) was published.

Apart from Morrison, Samuel Dyer (台約爾) and his associates preached continuously to the Chinese through the medium of written words. In May 1877, seventy years after Morrison arrived in China, the first China Protestant missionary conference was held in Shanghai. By then, the number of Protestant missionaries in China had reached 473, of whom 126 were in attendance. In this meeting the value and importance of a quality native Christian literature ministry was raised. It was apparently the first time western missionaries raised the possibility of and advocated the mission theory that “indigenousness” (本土) and “preaching” (布道) should be taken together as related concepts.[14]

Just as in the days of Morrison, western missionaries needed Chinese helpers for Bible translation. They similarly discovered the need to allow Chinese to take responsibility in using their own written language to evangelize their countrymen. For more than two thousand years the written language was the one and only means for people from the central plains to be educated for government office and bring honor to their parents and ancestors. At this point, under the encouragement of the missionaries, Chinese believers started to use the written language as a tool to evangelize their own people.

This change in the use of the written language led to a profound change in the cultural history of the central plains. The rise of written vernacular Chinese eventually led to the beginning of the influential New Cultural Movement. The development of Christianity in China over the past two hundred years shows that, in addition to the education and medicine that Chinese society desperately needed and that served as keen instruments for missionary work, written vernacular Chinese literature played a key role. Among the three, western missionaries dominated in the area of education and medicine while the Chinese workers had the major share in writing vernacular Christian literature. Apart from a few big projects—such as the translation of the Chinese Union Version Bible—that were still directed by westerners, more and more well-known and not so well-known Chinese Christians began to produce and distribute evangelistic literature. While the literary work of Ricci and Xu Guangqi targeted the intellectuals of the central plains, the vernacular literature movement initiated by Protestants brought the written language to the common people for the first time.

The Chinese Christian indigenous missionary movement had its roots in an indigenous evangelistic movement. Moreover, the indigenous missionary movement was neither founded upon preexistent theories, nor instigated or planned by anyone. Rather, it began when a group of Chinese converts acquainted with the benefits of the gospel to humanity rose up and committed themselves to use indigenous methods to preach the gospel. Beyond preaching the word, their use of easy-to-understand vernacular written language was the most effective evangelical tool at hand. In addition to using literature, the rise of the Chinese indigenous evangelistic and mission movement is actually based on something deeper: the theological factors that moved Chinese Christians to reflect on the development of social trends of the early twentieth century.

2. The birth and development of Chinese Indigenous Mission Movements

From the perspective of practical theology, evangelism (布道) and mission (宣教) are not the same, as the latter refers to crossing geographical and racial boundaries. Chinese indigenous mission follows this same line of development, gradually evolving from indigenous evangelism. This development is inseparable from the changing contexts in China and the world in the twentieth century.

The most renowned of the early Chinese Christians to go abroad was Huang Nai-Tang (黄乃棠, 18491924). Huang was a Methodist from Fujian who successfully passed the imperial provincial examination and had taken part in the Gongche Shangshu movement (公车上书).[15] His chief achievement overseas was to secure a colony (垦殖地) in Sibu, Sarawak where, in 1901, he established a Fujian Christian community by leading three groups totaling more than one thousand poor Christian peasants from Fujian Province to work this land.[16] Although this community formed the seedbed of the largest local Chinese church in the area today, Huang should not be seen as pioneering an indigenous mission movement since he crossed the South China Sea (南洋), not purely to preach the gospel, but as a result of changes in the political and social situation at home. While other ethnic groups live in the South China Sea region, the sizable migrant Chinese Christian community was a key factor for Chinese Christians to leave their homeland and go overseas for evangelism and mission.

The first Chinese evangelist who went overseas for evangelistic purpose was the C&MA pastor Rev. Choe Sing Huen (朱醒魂, 1888–1963).[17] By the early 1920s he had established a church in Saigon, Vietnam. He then moved to Indonesia to explore opportunities for planting more churches. However, strictly speaking, Choe Sing Huen’s mission work cannot be classified as “indigenous” because it was still part of the Chinese diaspora gospel work promoted and developed by the chairman of the South China region of the C&MA, Robert A. Jaffray (翟辅民, 1873–1945). In order to enable Chinese evangelists to shoulder the burden of saving the souls of overseas Chinese, Jaffray also promoted and launched the Chinese Foreign Missionary Union (中华海外布道团”).[18] It is fair to conclude that although this missionary band was not indigenously Chinese, it played an important role by introducing what was possible and it inspired the later rise of the Chinese indigenous missionary movement.

Mary Stone (石美玉, 1873–1954) was arguably the pioneer who ignited the Chinese indigenous evangelism and mission movements.[19] Born in a Wesleyan Christian family in Jiujiang, Jiangxi, Mary was amongst the first Chinese women to be educated abroad. When she completed her medical training in America, she returned home with a vision to heal both the physical and spiritual illnesses of her compatriots. With the cooperation of some western missionaries, she opened a hospital in Jiujiang in 1900—the very year of the Boxer Rebellion. At the same time she started a Bible study and nursing class. Sometime later, in response to the negative impact of the Boxer Rebellion on Christianity, the road of “self-propagation” was gradually adopted as the common view of Chinese Christians.

Mary Stone

In the summer of 1918, after the establishment of the Republic of China, Mary and six others—Yu Rizhang (余日章), Chen Weiping (陈维屏), Cheng Jingyi (诚静怡), Hu Suzhen (胡素贞), Cai Sujuan (蔡素娟), and Ding Limei (丁立美)—launched the “Chinese Inland Missionary Union” (中华国内布道会) during a retreat in Kuling. This was the very first time in history when Chinese Christians working on their own launched a united mission program aimed to reach all the peoples and regions of China. Ten years later, in 1928, Robert A. Jaffray of the C&MA correspondingly launched the Chinese Foreign Missionary Union (中华国外布道团), which had Chinese evangelists such as Wang Zai (王载) and Wang Zhi (王峙) as key leaders. This group traveled wherever Chinese could be found in the South China Sea region to preach and set up churches. Even so, the first truly influential indigenous evangelistic movement started only after Mary Stone established the Bethel Mission (伯特利教会) and its associated school and hospital in Shanghai. Her influence was solidified because not only did she plant a church and establish a school, she also devoted herself to itinerant preaching in many places. She also guided Andrew Gih (计志文, 19011985), who became a very important leader in Chinese mission history.

Apart from the external factor of the Boxer Rebellion, there was also a more important internal factor behind the rise of “self-propagation” within the Chinese church in the first half of the twentieth century—the emergence of the so-called “modernist” theology within the main Western denominations. Finding it impossible to accept the position of the “unbelieving faction” (不信派), Mary Stone left the Wesleyan church with her like-minded American missionary friend, Jennie V. Hughes (胡遵理, 18741951). Together they went to Shanghai, and in the name of “Bethel” founded a church, seminary, hospital, and a number of schools—including a nursing school, middle school, primary school, and orphanage. After the birth of the Republic, China was in perpetual turmoil. Both Chinese Christians and some western missionaries in China realized that it was not possible to merely copy the western missionaries’ method of establishing schools and hospitals in order to solve the basic problem of saving souls. Consequently, a series of regional “revival movements”—such as the Shandong Revival (山东大复兴) of the early 1930s—arose.

It was in this spiritual atmosphere that the Asbury College World Evangelistic Team came to China in 1930 to take part in the Summer Bible retreat hosted by the Bethel Mission. Bethel Mission members were deeply moved by the Holy Spirit through the input of the Americans and determined to follow their example. The following February, Andrew Gih founded the “Bethel Worldwide Evangelistic Band.” When Dr. John Sung (宋尚节) later became a member, the Evangelistic Band was greatly reinforced. These enthusiastic Chinese Christians traversed all the cities in China, from North to South, and then traveled overseas. This was the beginning of the Chinese indigenous mission.

In the first four years of the Bethel Band, members travelled fifty thousand kilometers, visited 133 cities, and held 3,389 meetings where they preached to hundreds of thousands of people and led tens of thousands to the Lord. They accomplished this in spite of having to rely on outdated modes of transportation and facing the chaos of war and armed separatists. They subsequently established auxiliary bands all over China and influenced many local churches to set up their own evangelistic bands. In addition to evangelizing Han-occupied regions, they also expanded the work to areas where Han didn’t live. Their gospel-motivated footprints could be traced to Mongolia, Yunnan, Tibet, and Xinjiang. After 1938 Andrew Gih and his associates crossed the frontier to visit Vietnam. That trip marked the first step in moving from evangelism within China to overseas mission. And though John Song left the Bethel Mission in 1933—only two years after its inception—he continued to be involved in itinerant evangelism for the next fifteen years, exerting a great influence on China, Taiwan, and many other parts of Southeast Asia.

It should be appreciated that the work of Mary Stone, Andrew Gih, and John Song, and the Bethel Band’s vision of widespread evangelization and teaching people to confess their sins and believe in Jesus—even after they moved from going across regions to cross borders—generally focused on Han Chinese communities. In spite of their positive work, they lacked a clear aspiration to engage in cross-cultural ministry. Even so, the Chinese indigenous evangelistic and missionary movement of the twentieth century was not limited to Han Chinese. In addition to the Chinese co-workers who accompanied CIM missionaries to areas where minority people lived—like Yunnan, Guizhou, and Qinghai—to start gospel outreach and educational work, an indigenous force dedicated to cross-cultural mission had emerged.

The Kweichow Provincial Short Term Bible School, 1936. Front row (from the left): Ruth Cheng, Hannah Cheng, Pastor Lin (leader of the Bethel Band visiting Kweichow), Elder Koh (Bethel Band), Rev. G. Cecil-Smith, Mr. Tien (Bethel Band), Rev. Ieuan Jones, Elder Shen of Tsunyi, Elder Yeh of Kweiyang. China’s Millions (April 1936): 74.

One of the most important trends from the time that still influences the missional direction of today’s Chinese Church was the “gospel migration movement” (福音移民运动) that focused on the western borderlands. The forerunner of this movement was Pastor Ding Limei (丁立美, 18711936) of Weixian, Shandong. In 1910 Ding brought together student representatives from Hebei, Shandong, and Anhui to set up the “Righteous and Courageous Evangelistic Band” (义勇布道团), which was the predecessor of the Chinese Christian Student Volunteer Movement Evangelistic Band (中华基督教学生立志布道团). In 1918 he, along with David Z. T. Yui (余日章), Cheng Jingyi (诚静怡), and others, set up the “Preparatory Committee for the Yunnan Evangelistic Band” (云南布道筹备委员会) under the auspices of the “China Inland Evangelistic Society” (中华国内布道团). The next spring, seven people—including Ding and his wife—were sent to Yunnan. From 1920 on they preached and established churches in the border areas of Yunnan and in northwest and northeast China.

Two main factors moved Chinese Christians to evangelize ethnic minorities in western China. The first was that western missionaries, including those of the China Inland Mission, had led whole tribes of Lisu and Big Flowery Miao to the Lord. At the same time, stories of the evangelization of Mongolians and Tibetans living on the Tibetan Plateau stirred the hearts of Han Christians to evangelize ethnic minority groups. In fact, their westward evangelistic trips received the full support and partnership with missionaries from various societies, including the CIM.

The second factor emerged from the beginnings of the Sino-Japan war when large numbers of people from the coastal provinces began to move west. Many Christians from eastern and southern China—mainly comprising urbanites, intellectuals, and young students—due to their contact with the people living in the western borderlands began to recognize that sharing the gospel is a blessed privilege. The most representative attempt to reach out was the “borderland service department” (边疆服务部) of the national headquarters of the Church of Christ in China (中华基督教会全国总会) that was established in 1939. The initial plan was to start educational and medical programs in western Sichuan and the Tibetan region to open doors for evangelism. At that time, some Christian students and intellectuals who remained in the frontlines during the Sino-Japan War also responded to the call of the ethnic minorities and took the initiative to set up schools and hospitals in the borderlands.

In reality, the indigenous mission organizations that were established to evangelize the peoples of the borderlands were started by a number of local seminaries after the Sino-Japan War. The most well-known was the Bianchuan fuyin tuan (遍传福音团, “The Band that Spreads the Gospel All Over the Place”), launched by the students and teachers of Northwest Bible Institute (西北圣经学院) in Fengxiang (凤翔), Shaanxi. By and large, they traveled westward from Shaanxi along the Hexi Corridor (the western region of the Yellow River) and arrived in Xinjiang via Gansu, Ningxia, and Qinghai.[20] One can still find churches planted by this group to the north and south of Tianshan (天山). Later, graduates from North China Theological Seminary (华北神学院) and Baptist Seminary along the coast also joined the evangelistic work in Xinjiang. In addition, the Chinese Christian Evangelistic Band (中华基督徒布道会), established in Qingdao in 1947, issued the call for people to go and evangelize ethnic minorities.

The situation in China in the late forties caused great anxiety. The victory that followed eight years of war with Japan brought no real peace. Nevertheless, the spiritual needs of China’s far west that were identified by the Chinese church during the war continued to stir the hearts of young intellectuals. In this social setting, Pastor Zhang Guquan (张谷泉, 1920–1956) of Shandong launched the “Northwest Spiritual Work Band” (西北灵工团). He gradually emerged at the frontline of Chinese indigenous mission and deeply influenced the contemporary Chinese church as they entered the ranks of world mission thinking.

In his early years, Zhang Guquan was influenced by the Jesus Family (耶稣家庭) and the Little Flock (聚会处). He then went to study at North China Theological Seminary at Tenxian (滕县). During 1945–1946, due to the chaos of civil war that caused increasing numbers of Christian refugees to flee, Zhang set up “Spiritual Cultivation Seminary” (灵修院) at Weixian, Shandong. In 1947, two female students from Cheeloo University (齐鲁大学)—Zhang Meiying (张美英) and Liu Shuyuan (刘淑媛)—were sent by the Spiritual Cultivation Seminary to pioneer work in Xinjiang. In the following year, after the whole seminary fasted and prayed, Zhang Guquan and others decided to relocate the teachers, students, and their families from Shandong to Xinjiang. They departed in several groups, travelled thousands of miles westward to Hami (哈密), Xinjiang, and encountered many difficulties along the way. Often, they could only travel on foot or by horse and cart. Remarkably, not only did they receive hospitality from churches along their westward journey, but others also expressed their desire to join them on the way. The most well-known was the theologian Zhao Ximen (赵西门, 19182001) and his wife Wen Muling (文沐灵, 1916–1960) who travelled from Nanjing to meet up with them at Hami. In 1949, just before Mainland China changed leadership, Zhang and over one hundred associates formally established the “Northwest Spiritual Work Band” (西北灵工团), modeled after the Spiritual Cultivation Commune at Weixian that “shared everything in common.” In his hymn, “Northwest Spiritual Work,” Zhang wrote:

The spiritual work of the Northwest has been revived in the last days,
May the brothers and sisters earnestly do the Lord’s work,
do the Lord’s work, do the Lord’s work.
Take the gospel back to Jerusalem,
leaping over mountains and jumping over ridges, by foot and by boat,
carving out paths in the wilderness and deserts.[21]

The opening paragraph of Volume 1, Issue 2 of the periodical, Northwest Spiritual Work (西北灵工), that Zhao Ximen published on occasion, more clearly explained the ideas behind “Back to Jerusalem.”

Our way is along the borders of the motherland–Xinjiang and Xizang. Our way is also in the West of the motherland–India, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Arabia, and Palestine. These are the places God has entrusted to us that we might walk this way, the boundaries that he determined for our lifework.

This is a clear vision statement for Chinese indigenous missions. It is also the manifesto of a group of Chinese Christians who dedicated themselves to world mission. However, due to the dramatic changes in China’s political situation, the “Northwest Spiritual Work Band” never crossed national borders and never reached its goal of crossing ethnic divides.[22] Nevertheless, the necessity for the Chinese church to develop a vision so that the gospel can “depart from China” and cross cultural boundaries had become widely recognized and after thirty years of stagnation was reignited in the nineties.

3. Current Practice and Prospects of Chinese Indigenous Mission Movements

At the end of the seventies after China’s thirty-year revolutionary storm, Chinese Christians seemed to emerge from nowhere as they re-started a limited range of normal Christian activities such as Sunday gatherings. At that time, people from other parts of the world discovered with delight that the Chinese church was not only alive, but had also greatly grown in size. From that time on, Chinese Christians, particularly the number of believers attending house churches, continued to expand and became one shining example of church growth in modern history. In the last ten years of the twentieth century after the 1989 Tiananmen Incident, Chinese Christians caught the vision of “mission” once again. This is most noticeable in the re-launch of the “Back to Jerusalem” slogan by Chinese Christians and the call of the 2030 movement for 20,000 missionaries from China to join the global mission force by 2030.

As it was only revived in the nineties, the present Chinese indigenous mission movement remains in its embryonic stage. It is thus too early to make any objective historical analysis regarding its potential. Nevertheless, it is possible for sober observations to be made regarding some specific characteristics of current Chinese indigenous missions. It is also possible for us to gain a clearer understanding of the special features and potential development of this movement.

3.1. Who is promoting mission in China?

The Three-Self Church, in theory and practice, endeavors to promote “Sinification” through Christianity’s adaption to the Socialist system. When the Communist party came to power every effort was made to eliminate Christianity. Though this failed, the party hasn’t given up trying to reestablish the phase of “Christianity in China” seen earlier in history. The need for “Christianity to set forth from China” has never appeared on the official agenda of the Three-Self Church.[23] For this reason, the phrases “the gospel sets forth from China” and “doing mission beyond China” are only heard in Chinese house churches which are far greater in number than the Three-Self Church. Chinese house churches do not exhibit the kind of overarching framework found in the Three-Self Church. After Christianity regained a place in society during the 1980s and continued to grow over a further thirty years, house churches in China emerged in three different forms.

The first form is exemplified by the churches directly led by the older generation of evangelists such as Wang Ming-Dao (王明道) of Shanghai, Yuan Xiang-Chen (袁相忱) of Beijing, Lin Xian-Gao (林献羔) of Guangzhou, and Yang Xin-Fei (杨心斐) of Xiamen. Although each group has its own characteristics and emphases, all are staunchly fundamentalist theologically and firmly resist the “modernist theology” (新派神学) promoted by the Three-Self Church. They similarly prefer a familial structure over an organizational structure when it comes to church governance. Missiologically, although they all recognize the church’s duty to fulfil the Great Commission, they emphasize the importance of each believer’s spiritual life. To Chinese Christians who grew up after the Cultural Revolution, these older leaders are honored as servants who were faithful even to the point of death and spiritual models who walked the way of the Cross. They are also seen as spiritual mentors who led the church revival that started in the eighties. Even so, they are not initiators or leaders of the modern Chinese mission movement.

The second form of house churches takes the shape of associations of churches, modeled after large “dioceses” (片区) for churches in rural areas and small to medium-size cities such as the Fangcheng church, the Chinese Evangelical Fellowship, and the Wenzhou churches.[24] The leaders of most of these churches are Christian workers who were directed and trained for many years under the older generation of fundamentalist mentors. Their social standing is generally not very high. Theologically, they embrace fundamentalism and reject Three-Self ideology. With China’s policy of opening up to the world, they have also been influenced to varying degrees by churches in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other countries. They have been further influenced by the personal understandings of certain leaders. Their ideas are therefore a mixture of fundamentalism and different shades of “indigenous theology”. Their church governance reflects a traditional Confucian clan (家族/宗族) structure. While the first type of churches lead by the older spiritual leaders could be said to be paternalistic (家长制), the style of the second form of house churches could be identified as patriarchal (族长制). Since the social context has improved, generally speaking, the leaders of this second form of churches are more likely to focus on evangelism and lead people to the Lord than the older spiritual leaders. It is therefore fair to call them the initiators of “missional China” as well as the main force behind the “Back to Jerusalem” slogan.

The third form includes newly established urban churches in big Chinese cities such as Shouwang in Beijing, Wanbang in Shanghai, and Qiu-yu-zhi-fu in Chengdu. Although the number of believers in these churches is much smaller than those in the second group, the majority of their leaders have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher and have received training from recognized seminaries overseas. For this reason, their horizons stretch far beyond that of their predecessors. Having identified what they believe to be deficiencies in the theology and governance of traditional house churches, they have become more inclined to accept Calvinist teaching. As they have developed a stronger sense of responsibility toward society and a more critical mindset, they believe that cross-cultural mission is the duty of the church, the very reason for its existence. The purpose and mobilization of the 2030 movement originated from such Chinese intellectual Christians who are full of passion and have a strong sense of responsibility for the times. In comparison to the second form of churches, these intellectual Christians are more rational in their mission mobilization and are better equipped in theological and sociological analysis. Even so, they tend to be less resilient when facing difficulties and less patient in their desire for success.

In addition to the above three major forms of house churches, there are a number of other types of churches in China. For example, the Jiaxing church of Zhejiang Province and Shihua church of Shanghai lie in between the first and the second forms of churches. An important characteristic of these churches is that upon the death of older spiritual leaders who directly or indirectly influenced the church, leadership is passed on to the next generation. These churches value continuity highly and do not consider missions to be an urgent matter. Another type lies in between the second and third forms of churches. Examples are churches for migrant workers that can be found in and around many large cities. Representative examples include the church for people from Guizhou in Shaoxing, Zhejiang and the Lisu church in Kunming. Practical questions of making a living, interacting with fellow countrymen, and a longing for normal church life have meant that missions hasn’t become a priority for these churches.

The above analysis provides a rough sketch of the huge Christian community comprising some 100,000,000 believers. Who from among these will join the ranks of those called to global mission? From the above picture, we can gather an impression of the missional characteristics of Chinese Christians, their strengths and weaknesses, and the problems and challenges that they are facing.

3.2. The current state of mission mobilization in the Chinese Church

Overseas research institutions and Christians who pay close attention to the development of the Chinese church and issues in world mission have spent much time following and studying the Chinese house church to understand the current state and future direction of mobilization and participation in mission. Among these are Chinese organizations such as “CCCOWE” (华福) and “GOI/Gospel Operation International” (华传), and western organizations like Open Doors and ChinaSource. Added to this list are some purely academic organizations and theological seminaries. Each organization has its own purposes for studying the topic. This paper does not intend to evaluate the work and opinions of these groups. It presents observations based on the historical background of Chinese church growth and accounts of CIM and other mission organizations which have guided and partnered with the Chinese church.

Let’s first look at two sets of data. The first set considers the actual number of people who have participated in the “Back to Jerusalem” movement up to this day. Although Brother Yun and his associates have frequently announced publicly that they would send out 100,000 missionaries to take the gospel to fifty-one countries, they had only sent out about 1,500 people by 2004.[25] Further, both the results derived from field studies of various researchers and my own interviews with people who have taken part in this movement point to the conclusion that the published figures present a human-devised ideal that does not correspond to reality. Not only are the actual numbers of those sent far below what was announced, but even those who were sent to evangelize in a cross-cultural environment are, without exception, living and ministering among their own people—the Han Chinese—and using their native language. Although this movement has been going on for more than ten years, it has never actually “crossed” any cultural barriers. This is exactly the same problem faced in earlier times by the “Northwest Spiritual Work Fellowship” when they first arrived in Xinjiang.

The next set of data was collected in November 2015 through a survey designed to measure “the current state and outlook of Chinese church ministry.” The 856 questionnaires collected indicated that 80.1% of the respondents were in full or part time Christian ministry, 42.6% had tertiary (bachelor and above) qualifications, and 61% had received theological training.

The data clearly show that in comparison with thirty years ago dramatic changes have taken place in the composition of the Chinese house church, particularly with regard to leadership. Although rural Christians may still hold a numerical advantage, the urbanization and intellectualization of the Chinese church cannot be reversed.

However, alongside these encouraging statistics, answers given to questions concerning “mission” present a different picture. Positively, the majority of respondents gave the right definition for “mission,” which shows that the Chinese church has a clear and mature understanding of what it is.[26] However, when they were asked whether their church currently promotes and participates in mission, only 29.6% indicated they were involved while 52.6% indicated that they either had never thought about it, or had thought about it but didn’t know how to get involved, or simply failed to answer the question. The remaining 17% stated that they had tried to get involved but failed.

Putting all the data together, it seems that the Chinese church has made a good beginning in mission. However, the majority still remain in the visionary and exploratory stage. The concept of a “missional China” is not yet a movement in the present tense, but it is a goal that could be achieved step by step if the church receives proper guidance.

3.3. Issues the Chinese Church must consider as it promotes mission

If we count off from the days of Mary Stone and Ding Limei, Chinese Christians have journeyed on the road of indigenous evangelism and overseas mission for nearly 100 years. This covers nearly half of the history of Protestant missions in China. Although the history has been filled with hardship and tears, the missionary movement in China was built upon a solid biblical and theological base and has progressed like a relay race in which the baton has been passed on across several generations. Though the church and the world are undergoing change, God’s love for the world and the salvation that comes from the cross remain unchanged. When the Chinese church marches toward the front of the stage, becoming conscious of its own responsibility towards world mission, we must truly recognize that this is a very different world from the one that was known by our forefathers. We also need to discover whether we have the ability to converse with this world and lead modern men and women of other cultures to Jesus as Savior. The following issues are unavoidable as the church matures in mission.

A. Issues concerning economics

Today, whether in China or abroad, when people talk about Chinese churches promoting indigenous mission, they often mention that China’s economic development over the past thirty years has increased the church’s ability to engage in mission and that human resources in China are incomparably large.[27] However, the success of mission is neither measured by piles of gold and silver, nor can it succeed by the tactical deployment of waves of humanity. It also remains true that the per capita economic power of the Chinese people lags behind the traditional missionary-sending countries. Similarly, financial support made by Chinese Christians to mission is far from on a par with their counterparts in traditional missionary-sending countries.

B. Issues concerning motivation

In addition to the positive expectations that economic power and human resources bring, the Chinese church holds to a popular missiological myth: since Christianity, from its beginnings, has always expanded westward and the faith has now circled the globe it is the job of the Chinese church to carry the “last baton” of global mission and return to Jerusalem. This mission myth is not based on biblical revelation. Rather, it seems to pander to national pride as well as adding a “super-spiritual label” to what is actually Chinese national arrogance. This myth is in reality a “spiritual” trap from which the Chinese church will not be able to extricate themselves. Our motivation for participation in world mission should be entirely based on our Savior’s Great Commission. This is the only true starting point of missional activity. It’s not because we are stronger, have more people, possess better cultural values, or anything like that. We need to reflect on our motivations and mentality when we promote mission. Is it based on an “I can” or “my nation can” mentality? Do we really think that other nations have lost their appetite for mission?

If we think that the above two points permit Chinese people to develop misconceptions about mission, then we need to pay close attention to a few basic issues that we may not have considered before.

C. Issues concerning theology

Urban churches in China are predominantly reformed and maintain a reformed approach to mission. Nevertheless, we must be aware that even though reformed ideas are popular in China they are not regarded so highly in every corner of the world. If someone lets Chinese missionaries know that they don’t really appreciate Calvinism, should we continue recommending it to them? The purpose of mission is to lead people to accept Jesusas their personal savior, not to accept any particular theological theory.

D. Issues concerning cultural backgrounds

Whether we acknowledge it or not, the essence of Chinese thought is largely Confucian and therefore fundamentally atheistic. When sixty years of atheistic education is added to this, we must conclude that the majority of missionaries sent from China received their formative education from an atheistic perspective. Most Chinese Christians have therefore journeyed from atheism to monotheism to embrace Jesus as the only true God. However, once we leave China we discover that in most areas of the world polytheism, pantheism, and various forms of monotheism, rather than atheism, are prevalent. How then can people who turned from atheism to theism help people from polytheistic or pantheistic backgrounds accept Jesus as their only Savior? Before Chinese Christians set out, they must learn many lessons in comparative religious.

E. Issues concerning tools for propagation

Reflecting on the way China was evangelized after the arrival of Robert Morrison, we discover that the Chinese accepted western missionaries not only because of their devotion, but largely because of the tools they brought, such as medicine and education. They also helped the Chinese rediscover the importance and use of literature. Apart from listening to them preach the “way,” Chinese people experienced the answers to life’s biggest questions—such as the existence of “love,” “dignity,” and “truth”—through the “tools” that the missionaries brought. For example, though the Qing Court at times prohibited Christianity, their eventual abolition of the imperial exam system proved the effectiveness of the educational tools brought in by the missionaries.

Similarly, when we reach out in mission, we should also consider what tools we have that can help people accept the Lord. Is it Chinese language or the Confucian Institute or Chinese food or Kung Fu? It seems that Chinese people do not possess any missional tools that are superior to the ones used by the western church. What then do we have? While Africa has opened a wide door to the Chinese, the vast majority of the Chinese they have contact with have ventured there for trade. These Chinese visitors regularly flaunt their wealth and demonstrate a lack of fear of God by their greed and refusal to bear responsibility for their actions.

When Chinese Christians go to Africa, what can we bring that will be a blessing to Africans? What evidence can we provide so that they won’t think we are simply activists who are there to promote imperialist China? Africans still have a lot of “backward customs.” Western missionaries once helped Chinese Christians put away customs like foot binding and opium smoking. When we send missionaries to Africa, shouldn’t we consider how we can improve on the western Christians’ methods to help Africans correct their bad customs?

F. Issues concerning political backgrounds

Whether or not Chinese missionaries acknowledge it, whenever they cross borders and encounter other cultures, the first and foremost thing that people notice is their “Chinese” background. Apart from traditional culture, people of the receiving nation will look at the particular Chinese person in front of them against the backdrop of China’s current performance on the global stage. For this reason, no matter where they go the deeds and motivations of the Chinese missionaries will always be evaluated or judged by the political context of China. For example, the Chinese government is currently promoting the “one belt, one road” initiative which overlaps geographically with the “Back to Jerusalem” program advocated by the church. Can the westward movement of the gospel extricate itself from the political shadow of the mercantilism proposed in the “one belt, one road” campaign? Or should Chinese missionaries take the opportunity to use the “one belt, one road” initiative as a missionary platform, just as Robert Morrison used the East India Company in an earlier age?

Conclusion

In the two hundred years since Robert Morrison arrived in China in 1807, the Chinese Christian population has risen to something close to 100 million so that China is one of the countries with the highest number of Christians. Historically speaking, this is nothing short of miraculous. Throughout this growth process, the Chinese church has experienced several “great revivals” which have not only built a church of the greatest scale, but have also established several missionary movements that, while they are of global influence, have mainly impacted Asia. China in the twenty-first century is already witnessing Christianity moving from “the gospel is in China” stage to “the gospel sets forth from China” stage, as it begins to flow with the tide of world mission.

The Western church has often understood mission to focus on foreign cultures. In contrast, the Chinese indigenous missionary movement was not originally “cross-cultural.” It was, rather, a direct response to God’s call during the Great Revival era. It was an evangelistic movement that was not limited by the boundaries of culture. The resultant theological reflection is that mission is a commission that the church must take part in. According to the narratives of the four Gospels, Jesus’ proclamation of the Great Commission indicates that true mission must eventually reach the cross-cultural stage. This is not to say that unless mission is cross-cultural from the start it cannot be called mission. The church of the apostolic age started its work within the same family and nation and then went on to reach Gentiles and barbarians. For this reason, we should not give the Chinese church the wrong impression that mission must be cross-cultural from the start.

History teaches us that “setting forth from China” first and foremost means to resist the anti-Christian propaganda promulgated by the secular world that prefers that Christianity remains “in China.” To achieve this requires that indigeneity begins to arise and develop in a way that brings the gospel and the daily life of ordinary people into close relationship. As a result, when Chinese Christians set forth they need to clearly understand the key material, psychological, and spiritual characteristics of both the twenty-first century Chinese church and the “Macedonia” to which we are called. We need to consider whether the Chinese church currently has the material, psychological, and spiritual qualifications that are necessary to start out and assume the task of taking the gospel to the whole world. We also need to analyze how our personal resources correspond to the needs of the field. What are our advantages and disadvantages? Do we have the means and will to overcome the disadvantages? How can we become integrated into the world missionary movement? How much effort is needed to study the essential aspects of culture found on the mission field? What things should be discarded? What can be transformed into missional tools?

If the Chinese church regularly discusses the relationship between Christianity and Confucianism, then, when we begin to set out toward Jerusalem, shouldn’t we start reflecting on the relationship between Christianity and pantheism and other forms of monotheism? And when we set out toward Africa, shouldn’t we discuss the correspondence between traditional Chinese worship practices and those found in African culture?

The purpose of cross-cultural mission is not to give one a feeling of “crossing”. Rather, it is to build an awareness of the spiritual and material needs of people from foreign cultures. For instance, Chinese mission agencies in Africa cannot avoid spending time and energy studying the “backward customs” of the society or community where they live, how common they are, and the evil consequences they bring. Another example comes in the light of the United Nations’ policies on eliminating poverty, promoting gender equality, alleviating disasters, facing climate change, etc. Will we question the practical significance of what we do in relation to Africa’s development? Though the official position for Chinese diplomacy is “no intervention in internal affairs,” the actual result is that greed is encouraged and Chinese are only interested in African resources. Even the colonists in history did not perform so poorly. This is how the name “Chinese Empire” came about. How can we help African people realize that Chinese missionaries are not agents of the “Chinese Empire” but ambassadors of God? How can we convince the African church to be willing to work with us so that we can together promote local evangelism and service? How can we, from the outset, become aware that we are not the ultimate savior of Africa, but simply the next possible stimulus of an indigenous missionary movement?

When western missionaries held the first Missionary Conference in Shanghai, they already realized that “there is no hope at all within China.” They also expressed that “Each year many millions of Chinese have passed into eternal death! How heart-breaking it is!” Similarly, when Chinese Christians think of going to Africa for mission, shouldn’t they also ask: “What is it in Africa that breaks the heart of the Chinese church?”

The Chinese church must understand that mission is the Lord Jesus’ commandment to the church. It is the church’s Great Commission. Mission does not exist merely to demonstrate its own strength or to be an additional burden on the church. Rather, it is a blessing in and of itself. At the same time that mission builds up missionaries it can become a blessing to the Chinese church.

It is an exciting era for Chinese Christians. It is no exaggeration to say that the mission work of the Chinese church in the next few decades has a great potential to influence the whole world and to make an important contribution to the completion of the Great Commission. However, frankly speaking, if the tens of thousands of workers who are sent out carry with them the wrong theology, unhealthy missionary methods, and misguided passion, they are also capable of creating the greatest chaos in the whole of church history.

The Chinese church should not forget that just as “the three-self formula” was not a Chinese innovation, the possibility that modern China could become the next missionary-sending base is not a creation of their own reasoning power. Rather, it is the result of the teaching and example of many overseas Christians who came to serve in China since the 1990s.

Finally, it doesn’t matter if we are part of the Chinese church or if we pray for the Chinese church with great expectations that they will set forth into all parts of the world; we should never forget the lesson laid down more than one hundred years ago when the “Northeast revival movement” selected its slogan. Success comes “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zech 4:6).

[1] Rob Moll, “Missions Incredible—South Korea sends more missionaries than any country but the U.S. And it won’t be long before it’s number one,” Christianity Today (1 March 2006). This article may have been a bit too optimistic with regard to the Korean church. According to Christianity in its Global Context, 1970–2020 Society, Religion, and Mission, published by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (2013), 76, South Korea was the number six sending country in 2010, behind the US, Brazil, France, Spain, and Italy. Even though most of the missionaries from several of these countries are Roman Catholic, South Korea (with 20,000 sent) remains far behind the US (127,000) and Brazil (34,000).

[2] 张路加, “福音与中国-明白神的心意与蓝图 刊于,” 今日宣教, 二零一五年十月(创刊号).

[3] “China’s Mission: Back to Jerusalem,” http://chinasmissionbtj.org/wordpress/ (accessed 22 August 2016).

[4] “China’s Mission: Back to Jerusalem.”

[5] From the “Memorial Stele of the Propagation in China of the Luminous Religion from Daqin” (大秦景教流行中國碑; pinyin: Dàqín Jǐngjiào liúxíng Zhōngguó bēi, abbreviated 大秦景教碑). Translation by Arthur Christopher Moule (慕阿德), Christians in China before the year 1550 (London: SPCK, 1930), 40. Many members of the Moule family served in China as missionaries.

[6] Moule, “Memorial Stele,” 38.

[7] This movement is known was Wuzong Miefo (武宗灭佛). During his six-year reign, Wuzong suppressed all foreign religions. Though his main target was Buddhism, Christianity was also severely affected.

[8] Moule, “Memorial Stele,” 46–7.

[9] Christianity was known to the Mongols as Yelikewen (也里可温) in Chinese transliteration. The Mongol form of the word is uncertain. Many Chinese intellectuals wrongly thought the Catholic mission marked a return of Jingjiao.

[10] Semu refers to the second caste in the Yuan Dynasty. Meaning “assorted categories,” the word captures the ethnic diversity within this social class.

[11] Lixue is a more rationalist form of Confucianism, or Neo-Confucianism, that came to prominence in the Song and Ming dynasties.

Digital image of illustration of Matteo Ricci and Xu Guangqi from Athanasius Kircher’s China Illustrata published in 1667, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xu_Guangqi#/media/File:Kircher_-_Toonneel_van_China_-_Ricci_and_Guangqi.jpg. (accessed 31 October 2016).

[12] The Chinese Rites controversy was a dispute among Roman Catholic missionaries in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries over the question of whether Chinese rituals honoring Confucius and ancestors were compatible with the Christian faith.

[13] See the valuable article “Province of Si-chuen,” extracted from Thomas Thornville Cooper’s, “Travels of a Pioneer of Commerce,” in China’s Millions (August 1877): 94–5. According to his article, the Société des Missions Etrangères founded a Catholic mission (Si-chuen Mission) in 1704. Despite various civil wars, prohibition, and persecution, this mission persevered in its service. By the time CIM missionaries arrived in Sichuan in the late 1870s, there were tens of thousands of Chinese believers and dozens of Chinese Catholic priests in addition to foreign missionaries.

[14] China’s Millions (September 1877): 11415.

[15] Gongche Shangshu’s literal meaning is “Public Vehicle Petition.” It was a political movement seeking reforms and expressing opposition to the Treaty of Shimonoseki in which Taiwan was ceded to Japan.

[16] 李恩涵, 《东南亚华人史·第九章·第二节》 (五南图书, 2002): 241–5.

[17] 陳潤棠, 《华人教会新突破:中华海外布道团──华人宣教先锋南洋拓荒史·朱醒魂:中国第一位海外宣教士》(华富中心, 1999).

[18] Robert A. Jaffray, “Report of the South China Conference of C&MA, 1929,” South China Alliance Tidings 24:1 (February 1930): 8–9.

[19] Digital image of Dr. Mary Stone (Shi Meiyu) by Margaret E. Burton from https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dr._Shi_Meiyu.jpg. (accessed 31 October 2016).

[20] According to some materials, the vision of the Bianchuan fuyin tuan, from its inception in 1943, was to “evangelize the Northwest seven provinces and the Northwest seven countries” of China. This vision was never actually achieved.

[21] 西北之灵工末世大振兴,
        愿兄姊努力作主工,作主工,作主工。
        把福音传回耶路撒冷,
        蹿山复越岭,徒步又航行,
        旷野和沙漠路开通。

[22] According to Huang Jianbo (黄建波), “Whether it was the early pioneers of the Northwest Spiritual Work Band, or the churches that survived as the fruits of their labor, both focused on the Han Chinese as their main target group and rarely reached out to the Muslim community. This is more or less a deviation from the original mission of the “Back to Jerusalem” movement. Even so, the peculiarities of the Xinjiang borderlands, the socio-political pressure of the 1950s, and the clan-based traditions of the Muslim faith should all be taken into account.” 黄建波, “自东而西-西北灵工团史述及思考,” 基督时报 (1 June 2012).

[23] 高峰, 促进基督教中国化——在2015年5月全国基督教中青年代表人士培训班上的讲话。2016-01-27发表, http://www.ccctspm.org/sanzishiliao/2016/127/16127907.html. See also 中国基督教第九次代表会议:中国基督教第九次代表会议发挥正能量 共圆“中国梦”倡议书, http://www.ccctspm.org/tianfengzh/2013/911/13911607.html.

[24] This Chinese form of diocese rose from the rural church of the 1980s when the gospel spread from village to village and county to county. As the church grew across a province, it came under one governing body that may lead 10,000, 500,000, or even more people.

[25] See http://www.gospelherald.com.hk/news/mis-64/一个震撼的异象.

[26] Survey questions: What do think of “mission”? Answers:

617 ticked cross-cultural mission

266 ticked cross-border mission

419 ticked cross-racial/ethnic mission

422 ticked cross-region mission

233 ticked short-term mission

132 ticked family migration

139 ticked membership in a mission board

172 ticked setting up a mission board/sending agency

问卷问题:您认为宣教的意义是什么? 答案如下 :

跨文化宣教617次

跨国境宣教266次

跨种族宣教419次

跨地区宣教422次

短宣形式233次

全家移民宣教132次

加入差会139次

建立差会172次

[27] See麥裕沛, “全球化與「福音進中國,福音出中國」,” 刊于《今日華人教會》總第二六七期,二○○八年八月號。

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