Although rural migrants in China earn more in cities than those who stay in the countryside, they are excluded from many of the social welfare benefits and subsidized housing often reserved for registered urban residents. It is a fact and a worsening trend that rural churches are losing people who can give financially. We pray for those believers who work in the cities, that they will continue to give financially to their churches back in the villages.
The decline of rural churches in China is real and heartbreaking. Many of those pastors see their churches deserted with only spiritually weak and ill believers left. We lift up all the pastors in China who feel helpless and even hopeless as they minister for Christ. May the Lord renew their bodies, hearts, and spirits knowing that the Great Shepherd requires only their faithfulness in ministry. Lord will bless their sacrifice and effort.
Churches in China can consider sending their missionary candidates to Western sending agencies, so they can live and learn how to be an effective servant of God, humble and with care, from foreign missionaries. In the past, missionaries sent out from China have failed because they did not take the time to learn the language and study the culture. We pray that mission effort is purely motivated by God’s command, not because of nationalistic or ethnic pride and certainly not of slogans.
Due to political and fundraising limitations, churches in China trying to send out cross-cultural missionaries still heavily depend on funds from outside of China. It will be at least another decade before these churches can send out fully-supported missionaries. Much of the giving in churches there goes toward building new churches. Little is spent on compensation for the pastors and less on outreach and missions. Let us pray that pastors and believers will give faithfully and generously for Kingdom purposes.
Besides those in the Three-Self system, many local seminaries are upgrading from a three-year program to a four-year program college level. Some are even going from college to a master's program level. May the Lord continue to show great favor to the churches in China so pastors can have good training and the co-workers in the church can also benefit from quality Bible training, both of which are badly needed.
House churches in China have formal Bible schools and seminaries, some are even bold in building libraries and long-term facilities. Theological training of different house church groups is taking on a different emphasis and includes specialized programs. We pray for enough quality teachers for these seminaries and schools set up by house churches, especially teachers with spiritual maturity and experience in pastoring churches.
There are increasing exchanges between churches in China and abroad in theological education, short or long term. Many younger church leaders seek more training or ordination because the society demands professionalism. We praise God for pastors in China receiving more theological training. We pray that they will be able to engage and minister to the young professionals more effectively.