- New Series: 30 Days on the Chinese Church
- Developmental Stages of a Chinese Church
- The CFC Story: Moving toward Maturity
- Why Translated Services Don’t Work
- Growing Pains
- Models of Ministry in Chinese Churches
- A Tale of Two Mailboxes
- Why we don’t have a Senior Pastor
- Unity and Diversity in a Chinese Church
- Maintaining Unity in a Chinese Church
- The Resource Pyramid
- Why Leadership Training is Job #1
- How to Equip Spiritual Leaders
- Leadership and Culture
- Leadership and Culture (Part 2)
- The Jerusalem Council: Consensus Decision Making
- English Ministry Pastor Shortage
- Reaching Adults: The Importance of Ownership
- The Power of Vision
- Caring for Co-workers
- Culture and Biblical Truth
- What about Asian American Churches?
- Advice to a Young ABC Pastor
- Advice to an OBC Senior Pastor
- Reflections on a Series
Do you want the English Ministry in your Chinese church to grow beyond a youth/college ministry? If so, it is necessary to reach English speaking young working adults and young families. But many Chinese churches struggle in reaching these groups. What does it take to reach them?
Many of the youth attend church because their parents bring them there. In fact, they often don’t have very much choice about whether or not they go to church. But when they go off to college it is a different matter, and they will make their own choices. When they graduate from college and start working (or go to grad school) they truly begin to feel that they are adults and should make their own decisions. Since they have many choices of English speaking churches, why would they want to remain in a bilingual Chinese church? What factors will enable them to stay?
The Importance of Ownership
It is interesting to listen to how people talk about the church which they attend. Some say “Why doesn’t the church do this?” while others say “Why don’t we do this?” These two questions seem quite similar, but the way in which they are worded reveals a huge difference in how people view their involvement in the church. To the first person, the church is “they.” Those who use this terminology see themselves as outsiders or guests at the church. They don’t truly belong. But the second person speaks of “we” and “our church” instead of “them.” This person views him or herself as a part of the church. They feel that they belong.
This feeling of “ownership” is an important part of reaching any group of people. If students feel that the church is their parents’ church then they will be unlikely to stay once they become adults. If we want to reach English speaking adults, we must make it possible for them to see the church as “their” church. What does it take to accomplish this?
This topic could become a whole series of articles on its own, but let me just list a few suggestions:
- Are English speakers treated as fully equal to those who speak Chinese in official church functions and literature? Or is speaking Chinese required to be a full participant?
- Are adults in the English Ministry treated like adults, even if they are “only” in their 20’s and 30’s?
- Is there the potential for those who speak only English to serve in the highest leadership positions, including on the board? Or is there a “bamboo ceiling”?
- Is the English Ministry treated as an equal partner in use of facilities and planning?
- Are joint meetings and activities planned jointly by a team including leaders from both congregations?
I’m sure that you can think of other points, but this should get you started. I’m happy to say that CFC is doing quite well on these points thanks to the great support that we receive from the Chinese Pastor and Chinese congregation leaders. Of course for a church at an earlier stage of development in which the English Ministry is almost entirely made up of youth we can’t expect this level of participation. But if you hope to have any young adults to stick around in the English Ministry you must make progress in this direction. The youth do not expect to be able to serve as board members, but younger working adults will have a difficult time feeling that they “fit in” if they don’t see the potential to fully participate in the church.
Tomorrow I will continue this discussion with a second factor essential for reaching young adults and families.