In China, President Xi tells the ninety million plus members of the Communist Party, "Don't call me President. Don't call me Party Secretary, just call me Comrade. However, the term comrade has taken on a different (homosexuall) connotation in modern China. In the past, there were few pastors with titles in China, and everyone was addressed as pastor. But, this is changing as many flash their title of “reverend”. It is Biblical to aspire to be a spiritual leader (1 Timothy 3: 1), but we pray our spiritual character will mature as we serve, rather than seek only titles.
Under Mao Zedong and even well into the 1980's tongzhi or comrade was the nearly universal form or address within the Communist Party. As China has become more modern and Mao suits have given way to Western-style suits and ties, the term comrade has become outdated. We praise God for various titles of pastors such as preachers, elders, deacons, doctors, presidents, prophets, and even the the wife of the pastor. May the Lord guard our hearts and thoughts not to envy titles but be like the Apostle Paul and "take pride in my ministry" (Romans 11:13).
Among gay men in China, “tongzhi” is most often used as a term of affection and solidarity and a catchall label for sexual minorities. Churches in Taiwan are deeply involved in the political process to oppose the government’s same-sex marriage proposal. We pray for Chinese churches everywhere, that they will do more in teaching young believers why churches must remain Biblically-oriented and have a good testimony at the same time.
Nowadays in China, people typically refer to one another as “Mister,” “Miss” or “Madam.” Strangers often address one another as “young miss,” “beautiful woman,” “handsome man” or “master.” Should Christians value titles just like the business world does? We pray for all who serve in churches throughout China that they will be faithful, model their lives after the Great Shepherd, feeding and even giving their lives for His sheep.
Within the Communist Party of China, only top-level leaders are typically referred to as “comrade.” Commonly, at the lower levels, the term “comrade” has been replaced by a grab bag of titles like “deputy secretary,” “boss,” “C.E.O.,” “grandfather” and “brother.” Newer pastors in China all want to be ordained and having a seminary degree, the higher the degree and the more degrees one has, the more honor, trust, and respect he gets. We pray the Lord will remind each of us that spirituality is not found in advanced degrees nor in the pursuit of affirmation but rather in seeking praises only from God above.
In China, a recent directive was announced to impose discipline and purge cliques within the Communist Party. The same announcement also suggested that “to uphold the democratic and equal relations among comrades within the party, and all party members must call each other ‘comrades.’ ” Young pastors in China are attracted to big name Chinese pastors and televangelists, whom they considered as having a big ministry and financially successful. We pray for churches and pastors alike, not chasing to chase after what the world deems successful, famous and "cool".
These days many join the Communist Party in China as a path to power and wealth and being worthy of being called a comrade."One can call every member of the Party a comrade, but there is always someone who has more power and importance than you do!" We pray that pastors in China will not fall into the trap of overemphasizing titles and salutations. We pray for believers who will truly respect and value their shepherd, as well as honor God’s worker and servant among them.