Exploring trends in China today

China is a vast nation of diverse people and places and so the saying ‘everything you’ve ever heard about China is true somewhere’ is apt.

However, here are four major trends that should inform how we think about and pray for China and its people:

Population pressures

China is home to over 1.4 billion people, but for the first time in 60 years its population has begun to fall. The population fell by 850,000 in 2022 and 2.08 million in 2023.[1] This means that, like many countries, China is now facing an ageing population. Already 14% of the population is over 65 [2] years old and by 2040 this is expected to reach 28% or 402 million people.[3] Recent policies to encourage people to have more children have had little impact.[4] The pressures of life and especially finances have made younger people more reluctant to have any children, let alone more than one. An added factor in China is that children from single-child parents face what is known as the 4-2-1 phenomenon: when the child reaches working age, he or she could have to care for two parents and four grandparents in retirement.[5]

China’s ageing population is both a challenge and an opportunity for churches. The Bible commands Christians to be the first to care for their own families (1 Timothy 5:8). One church has seized the opportunity to serve the elderly in their community. Beimen Church, a megachurch in Fujian province, opened a nursing home in 2021. The home has 156 beds and works together with the local hospital. The church also provides other elderly care services and could provide a model for other churches to follow to serve their congregations, communities and the nation as a whole.[6]

Money matters

China’s dramatic economic success since the 1990s has improved standards of living and brought impressive development to the country. For example, since 2008 China has developed what is now the world’s largest high-speed rail network and is helping other countries update their rail systems. [7]

In the last few years, however, the local and global response to the Covid-19 pandemic have had a significant impact on the Chinese economy with rising youth unemployment and falling property prices in major cities.[8] The people of China are working hard to restore growth to the economy. Pray for Christian employers and business owners to have wisdom as they seek to promote growth and build workplaces shaped by gospel attitudes.

City centred

In 2011, over 50% of China’s population lived in cities and by 2023 this had increased to 66% and people continue to move to the cities, often in search of work and a better life.[9] China’s urbanisation is happening at an unprecedented speed and scale. China’s cities are some of the most densely populated and influential places in East Asia, both for those living in the cities and rural areas. What if that influence could be used for Christ and the spread of his good news? Pray for parents who have left their children behind in rural areas as they seek work in cities. As we consider the crowds found in urban areas across China, may we reflect the response of our Lord, who ‘when he saw the crowds…’, ‘had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.’ (Matthew 9:36).

Gospel opportunities

Estimates as to the number of Christians in China vary significantly. One estimate suggests Christianity has grown faster in China than any other place in the world over the last forty years from 1 million to as many as 100 million Christians.[10]

Despite this, there remain vast numbers of people across China still to hear the good news of Jesus in a meaningful way. This includes not only many people in the majority Han population, but also 55 officially recognised ethnic groups, each with their own unique traditions foods and cultures. The Joshua Project Christian data website still considers 10 per cent of China’s people – over 140 million people – to be unreached with the gospel.[11] That’s about same size as the combined populations of the UK, Australia and Canada.

Almost 160 years after the first China Inland Mission workers landed in the country in 1865, there remains an unfinished task to share the good news of Jesus in all its fullness across China.

Pray for China and its people:

  • For wisdom for government and churches in dealing with China’s ageing population and caring for the elderly
  • For God’s blessing on China and its people For Christians as they seek to be a blessing to their communities For families split between urban and rural areas
  • For the Chinese Church and those still to hear the good news of Jesus

References

  1. China’s population falls for the first time since 1961’ bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-64300190 and ‘China records population decline for second straight year’ bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-68002803.
  2. cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/china/ 
  3. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(22)02410-2/fulltext 
  4. bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-64300190 
  5. bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19630110
  6. chinachristiandaily.com/news/church_ministry/2023-05-02/faith-based-nursing-home-runs-in-fujian_12752
  7. multimedia.scmp.com/infographics/news/china/article/3200811/high-speed-railway/index.html
  8. bbc.co.uk/news/business-66219007, rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/jingmao/jw-11162023105910.html
  9. statista.com/statistics/270162/urbanization-in-china/
  10. bu.edu/articles/2023/why-is-christianity-growing-in-china/
  11. joshuaproject.net/countries/CH
Written by OMF International

Share this post

Get Involved

Have Questions? Send us an email.

To help you serve better, kindly fill all the fields (required). Your query will be routed to the relevant OMF team.

Contact Form

By clicking Submit, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with the terms in our Privacy Policy.

You’re on the OMF United Kingdom website.
We have a network of centres across the world.
If your country/region is not listed, please select our International website.