This entry is part 3 of 25 in the series 30 Days on the Chinese Church

Many Chinese churches are content to remain in Stage 3 of the development of the English Ministry (see the previous post). But there is one more step that needs to be taken to have a mature, effective English Ministry. . .

All Grown Up (Stage 4: One Church, Two Congregations)

At some point the church needs to ask itself if it is serious about reaching English speaking adults. If the vision of the English Ministry is only to take care of the children of church members, then it is likely that most of them will leave the church once they become adults. Perhaps a handful will stay around to help reach the youth, but the vast majority will look for a church where there is a place for English speaking adults. If the only place to fit into the church in the English Ministry is to be either a youth or a youth worker, then most adults won’t feel like they can fit in. For that reason, some Chinese churches never move past Stage 3. But it is possible for the English Ministry to mature beyond this.

When I came to CFC, the English Ministry was already in Stage 3. Since the church is in Berkeley there were some college students in the church, and there were also a few older adults. Several co-workers had come over from the Chinese congregation to help out. I learned that the church was looking for an English Pastor, not a “Youth Pastor.” In my interview with the board members I made it clear that if I came to the church I would focus on the entire English Ministry and not be primarily a youth pastor, although obviously I needed to be sure that the youth were cared for. They shared my vision for an English Ministry that reached all ages. I immediately set out to build up the college fellowship and reach out to young adults. We deliberately set out to be a church for all ages.

A key turning point came in our annual board retreat in 1995, where we agreed in principle that our vision for the church to be one church with two equal congregations rather than an English Ministry as one department under the Chinese Ministry. We also agreed that the English ministry would be supervised by the English co-workers, under the authority of the board. Of course the EM could not be an equal partner right away because of our relatively young congregation and lack of experienced leaders. But that was and continues to be the goal. We have made a lot of progress in that direction over the last 12 years.

There are many implications of the decision to be one church with equal congregations and to have an English Ministry for all ages. I will touch on some of these points in future articles.

Now it’s your turn. . .

  • If you are in a Chinese church, what stage is it in?
  • What do you think is necessary to succeed in reaching adults of all ages in the EM in a Chinese church?
Series Navigation<< Developmental Stages of a Chinese ChurchWhy Translated Services Don’t Work >>

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  1. 1. I will throw in a twist: The official motto of our church is “We endeavour to establish ONE church with THREE congregations”. The Mandarin-speaking ministry was begun about 10 years ago and the first Mandarin speaking pastor was hired from the US in 2000. It seems like we are very much “all grown up” but it doesn’t feel like it. What it feels like is it’s easy to say we are one church, but we only live it out on the surface. My question: is it even possible or desirable to go with the multi-congregations model, pretending we are “walking hand-in-hand into the future” when we are really “cohabitating” (the word used my an attender of the English ministry) to share a building?

    2. Either a super-pastor who has a fluid mind and tongue to think and speak in Chinese and English (one pastor I know comes to mind–they are few and far between) or a pastoral team that is so united, heart & mind, that they can minister across the cultural and generational spectrum.

  2. if the church has church planting in her dna then the focus is outward and much internal problems be solved, when a church matures to self-support tents to look inward and power stuggle begins to happen over style or preference of sub-cultures.

  3. Good point. If a church is inward focused and merely trying to maintain the status quo then any problems or differences are magnified.

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