Interview with a Nanjing Pastor – Live Out the Gospel Before Sharing It
Editor’s note: China Partnership is launching a new chapter of its prayer initiative. Over the coming year we will pray for the church in a new city each month - providing videos, interviews, and prayer requests directly from the churches with whom we work. We hope this helps you better understand the needs of the Chinese church and commit more fervently to stand in prayer with our brothers and sisters.
This month we continue the project with Nanjing. We’re excited to bring you this interview with a Chinese pastor in the city! We hope you will check out the Nanjing page for additional content and to sign up to partner with us in prayer.
Pastor: Let me introduce myself. I’m from Nanjing. My church is a fairly young church with an average age among members of twenty five years. A third of church attendants are college students and the rest are young professionals who graduated from college within the last one to four years.
CP: It must be a very energetic church. How do you proclaim the gospel in such a young church?
Pastor: Our church was built on the foundation of a college fellowship originated by [an overseas missionary group]. At the inception of the church, we adopted the Four Spiritual Laws to share the gospel on campus.
As the church gradually matured, we were involved with some Grace to City classes and training. As sharing the gospel with strangers becomes increasingly difficult in China, we now focus more on helping and training believers to live out their faith in their network of relationships, to live out their Christian stories in their real lives and to share the gospel with all around us.
CP: Could you elaborate on some specific methods you adopt for sharing the gospel?
Pastor: In the past couple of years we hosted a training on how to share the gospel, mainly focusing in two categories. The first is sharing the gospel with strangers, which has to happen through interactive communication. In the past we would share the gospel and our new friend would sit and listen; nowadays people may not have that type of patience. Therefore, we coach our brothers and sisters how to share the gospel by starting with some other topic of conversation, such as work, marriage, or relationships.
The second is sharing the gospel with people they know well, such as their colleagues and friends. This came from the Grace to City church planting classes, which included training on how to share the gospel. The training would ask the believer to enter his own life story, find his idols, and then challenge him to reshape his life with the better and perfect solution in the gospel, thus coming up with a personal course of gospel sharing through the training. We also raise some examples in the class, like how we can find their real needs in life when we encounter a morally sound person or someone who lives a prodigal life, initiating dialogue around those needs and bringing the gospel to them.
CP: When you discover this new way of sharing the gospel, what changes do you see compared to the previous ways of sharing the gospel?
Pastor: This provides a great benefit for our brothers and sisters, as now they must live out the gospel before they share it. Whereas before, when we shared the gospel with strangers, they did not need to understand how we live out the gospel; all we needed was to talk about it. Now we focus on sharing the gospel with those around us. Believers first have to bear witness for the gospel at their work places, and then through relationships draw others close to the gospel by sharing a different type of lifestyle. I’m not one hundred percent sure of the responses our brothers and sisters get, but they keep bringing friends to the church.
CP: Based on your observations, is the church influencing your city in other aspects?
Pastor: We have not explored this aspect of ministry very much.
CP: Could you reiterate how your way of evangelism is affecting the city that you live in?
Pastor: I think the biggest impact of our evangelism on our city is by providing genuine care and comfort from heaven to the souls of the people in the city who pursue material comforts.
CP: When you say pursuit of material comfort, what are some of these pursuits?
Pastor: When I look at material pursuits, I think of the commercials from different cities in China; they all promote venues for dining and entertainment. With the popularization of smart phones, most people spend their time after work reading WeChat Moments [social media updates] and chatting with friends online. From what our brothers and sisters share with me, many people around them live in a state of hopelessness because they feel their lives have no purpose. If one centers his life around work, the purpose of his work is nothing but surviving and buying a house and settling down in this city. When he is not receiving any care, his soul can be very impoverished.
CP: This interview is being done mainly for the churches, brothers and sisters, and pastors in America, so that they can know more about the Chinese church here. Do you have anything to say to the believers in the U.S.?
Pastor: First, I am extremely grateful for the brothers and sisters in the U.S. who have shown great concern for the development of the churches in China. Churches in China are facing crises and challenges in many areas, such as the lack of church leaders and those with experience in building up churches. Especially with the great number of urban churches, but we are still learning how to pastor an urban church.
We are also in great need for the American brothers and sisters to remember us in your prayers. Ask God to lead us in all these crises. We are all one family in Christ. We also pay close attention to the American churches, who may be facing different needs. In different ways, we are all called to be witnesses for Jesus Christ in God’s kingdom, and we should constantly remember, communicate, and help each other in our prayers.