New Generation of Leadership Emerging in China's Churches

Despite growing persecutions from the government, China is shifting toward a new trend of ministry and leadership, according to the president of China Partner.

Erik Burklin said that during his last visit to China, he observed that church leadership is no longer among the elderly.

"What that means is that the younger generation is coming up,” Burklin said in an interview with Mission News Network (MNN). “They have been trained to do ministry. Also what that means is that the older generation is realizing that they can no longer keep up with the demands of the ministry of today and they're allowing the younger generation to take over."

Since Hudson Taylor entered China as the first Western missionary, missions in China have drastically changed as house churches took phenomenal leaps. From the strategies of missionary sending, mission organizations are now forming mentoring relationships with the fast growing Chinese churches, which has proven to be effective for church planting in China today. Organizations such as Overseas Mission Fellowship, Partners International, and China Partners over the years have formed partnership with the Chinese churches and have supported them with Bibles, theological resources, and pastoral training.

Now new trends are developing among the Chinese church leadership as new generation of leaders are rising with new visions for the future and bringing change to church growth.

"It's one thing to build a church,” Burklin continued, “it's another thing to realize that not only is this church building used for Sunday morning worship services, and other kinds of church ministry activity, but now they're using that same facility for a Bible Training Center."

Yet in the face of the preceding growth, fear seizes the Chinese church concerning heretical teaching. Theological seminaries and Bibles are a premium among the reported millions of believers living in the mainland. Due to restrictions placed on Bible publishing and import, the believers in China are growing at a rate faster than for Bibles to be published and handed to them. The scarcity of Bibles has forced many congregations to share a single Bible, or to memorize the entire book.

The western “partners” of Chinese missions have taken the initiative to tackle the problem by increasing their efforts to publish greater amounts of Bibles and resources. During Burklin’s visit to Hong Kong, the China Partner president met with the publishing houses there that are involved with distributing Christian literature. "

“Whenever we are in China, we update them on China Partner needs and discussed the shipment of 500 different volumes in China," said Burklin.