Interview with a Guangzhou Pastor – The Church’s Impact
Editor’s note: Over the year we have been praying for the Chinese 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 Shenzhen. We’re excited to bring you this interview with a Chinese pastor in the city! We hope you will check out the Guangzhou page for additional content and to sign up to partner with us in prayer.
CP: How does the church impact the city where it is?
Pastor: I believe it does so in two ways. The first is through the truth it holds; the second is through the life of believers. The church is distinct from other organizations in that it is a community of people called by God through his word to worship God and serve God.
The church is also distinct in that it is the pillar and foundation of truth. No other organization knows the truth, confesses the truth, proclaims the truth, and follows the truth. Therefore, this is the most profound, most salient, and only feature of the church that distinguishes it from all other organizations under the sun before Jesus returns.
Therefore, the church most profoundly impacts the city at the level of truth. The church knows the truth, proclaims the truth, and lives out the truth.
The second way a church impacts its city is through the lives of believers. A city is not about its buildings; it is about its people. And who are these people? We know that there are basically two kinds: Christians, those called by God, and non-believers. I call the non-believers religious followers; this is to say that everyone has his own god, his own authority, and his own standards and rules. Everyone worships [something or someone] in his life. He discovers problems and seeks to solve them, and this is how humanistic religions emerge in every historical period.
In my understanding there is no politics but only religion, as politics is also about constructing an authority, a system of worship. In the end it is still carving out an authority comprised of persons; it is still inventing a system of worship, that is all.
Therefore, when the church works, serves, and is present in a city, it influences the city most significantly in that it must proclaim the truth. And what defines the truth? The Bible does.
What does Satan come to do? He comes to lead people away from God so that they no longer trust the 66 books of God’s word. When we proclaim God’s truth, we must return to the Bible. How do we do that?
There are many churches in China. But what can truly impact the city and influence the city’s people has to be the truth. For all are created by God, and unless we receive God’s truth [we cannot know God and return to him].
Therefore, when we evaluate how a church influences a city, we have to return to Biblical truth.
Then how is Biblical truth discovered? I believe we have to return to the Biblical creeds, those that have been created since the time of the Reformation, through rigorous exegesis and continual prayer, by the many saints called and used by God. These creeds have stood the test of time.
CP: How do you train up soldiers of the gospel to proclaim the truth in life? How do you share the gospel with the unreached?
Pastor: How does the church impact the city? We will move on to talk about the Christian life. The Christian life is the process in which we apply the truth to daily life situations. Our church’s vision for service can be summed up in a few words: righteous laws, a gospel of grace, sound doctrines, godly living, a healthy diet, a healthy body, clear calling, holy service.
What do these mean? It means that God will use his church, through his word and through Jesus Christ, to transform a totally depraved sinner through the outworking of the gospel into a soldier of the gospel, someone who is sure of his calling and is able to do holy service while he lives under the sun.
How is this done? First, we have to share the true gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that a person can understand the gospel and believe in Christ. Then we will disciple him.
We start with God’s righteous laws and the gospel of grace. By teaching God’s righteous laws we help people understand that we are hopeless under God’s judgment. Then comes the gospel of grace, which draws people to Jesus Christ, the heart of the gospel.
Then, through the teaching of sound doctrines, we lead people to a godly life.
Furthermore, in order to serve one needs good physical health in addition to spiritual health. Ministry is how we should take care of our wellbeing in this evil and corrupt generation so that we can serve in ways that are healthy and effective.
Lastly, our ministry is not limited to service within the church, but we serve in all areas and at any stage of life. Anyone who has received the gospel can serve effectively, regardless of what their profession is.
Therefore, we help every disciple to recognize their gifts so that they can carry out holy service in their own profession, wherever God places them.
How do we serve? We approach this from a few aspects: one’s personal life, one’s marriage and family life, and one’s work.
We also call believers to several kinds of worship: to individual worship, to family worship, and to public, corporate worship.
Therefore, worship is extensive. It is not limited to the few hours at church, but rather it involves all aspects of our life, and it encompasses every moment of every day.
We have to win people to Christ. Only the right people can do the right things, so we greatly value the molding of people with the gospel. One transformed by the gospel and equipped with sound doctrines will be led to holy service.
This is how we do it. We care a great deal about discipleship.
English translation provided by Amy and the China Partnership translation team.