Of Point Guards and Church-Planters

Are foreigners needed in church-planting roles in mainland China?

Big implications for that question. Most foreign full-time Christian workers here are banking on a negative answer. Start a coffee-shop for evangelism, have a training conference for pastors, or build an English school for discipleship – these are the basic building blocks of most plans to ‘impact’ China. The assumption is, the Chinese can build better churches than we can, so why get involved in that part of the process? That’s the really illegal thing anyway (foreigners building churches), so why not avoid that altogether?

Let’s slow down a second before you get really angry. I am all for all of those ministries I just mentioned (with some asterisks). And I definitely believe that the Chinese can build better churches than we can – with one BIG asterisk: fully-trained Chinese men can build better. If you have a shortage of people in this category, you will find churches aplenty, but few that you’d want to go to if they were in America.

Chinese basketball provides a suitable analogy. China is now producing some excellent players. They’ve been interested for a generation now, and there’s some real talent here. But much to their chagrin, they have yet to make much of an international showing (see their recent Olympic performance). The problem is simple – no strong point guards. One article I read after the Olympics said – ‘a billion Chinese people, and not a point guard among ’em.’ Of course, every time they play, they’ve got a point guard. Someone who’s filling the spot. But he’s not excelling there.

Does China have pastors? Sure. Are there enough? Not by a long shot. Are they well-trained, or are they filling the spot? No sense in my answering; most of you probably won’t believe me anyway. But I can tell you about pastors I’ve met that are frustrated and struggling. This is the fulcrum – the training of the leaders is going to determine what brand of Christianity will be seen in the next generation in China.

This to me is the problem defined. As a foreign missionary, I believe that my working in a church-planting capacity is the best way to address this problem. Modeling church-planting, modeling a church-planter, modeling a church and a pastor. If you want to work in China, you need to consider how you are addressing this need. You may have a different means of addressing, but you must not ignore the need altogether!

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One Comment on “Of Point Guards and Church-Planters”

  1. baddogmooney June 15, 2009 at 1:43 pm #

    Glad to see you are online again. Sorry for not checking back sooner.

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