Not Destined For Popularity…

Okay… here it is. The last thing I’m going to say about teaching English in China. I keep telling myself so, anyway. Here’s the reasons why I am against teaching English in China in 90+% of situations. So if you’re thinking about going, have already gone, or know someone who’s going… here are the reasons, for better or worse.

Quickly, though, why go after this? Not because there’s anything wrong with the folks teaching English – quite the opposite, in fact. I hope the reasons below reveal a belief that these are some great people who have come to China with the most sincere of desires to share the Gospel. They’re the people we want in China! If the reasons below don’t even worry you, then I’m not talking to you, anyway…

1. It’s not what you really want to do.
I mean, I’ve met several students who actually said the sentence, ‘I want to go to China and teach English!’ Really? That keeping you awake at night? Teaching English to all those poor non-English speakers? Obviously not! ‘Teaching English in China’ has just become a circumlocution for ‘missions in China.’ That’s what you want, right? To give the Gospel to those who don’t have it. So if there was a way to just do that, you’d be interested, right? Which brings us to…

2. It’s not necessary.
There are other things for you to do. I understand that most people who come to teach do so for a visa and for a salary. There are other things you can do for both (esp. if you’re short-terming!). Not time and space here to go into all the other options, but don’t sign up because you don’t know what else to do! If you’re about to do so, leave a comment saying you’re interested, and I’ll send you a proposition…

3. It’s a waste of your time.
You’ve gotta have a visa, and China’s fresh out of missionary visas. That’s the problem. But we’ve all got to do everything in our power to be free as much as possible to do the work. Working full-time at a school is probably not the best way. These solutions cost money, but they’re well worth it. We’re in the process of getting one-year visas that will have zero strings attached! Free time! Before you agree to work with some organization, make sure you find out what your time constraints will be.

4. It’s not the most effective way to share the Gospel.
Organizations promise that you will ‘influence the lives of students.’ If you do things their way, you’ll share the Gospel once or twice a year. Some may be looking for that. If you want to cruise through life on autopilot and influence some people on the way, this may be the plan for you. Some people don’t really want to strategize and risk and work like crazy to get the Gospel out. But if you do, you don’t want to be teaching English.

5. The organizations will smother you.
There’s not many people that come to teach without the help of an organization. The organization recruits them in the States, finds them a position in China, and sets the rules for their ‘ministry’ while they’re here. Which pretty much equals ‘no ministry.’ No participation (or contact, usually) with house churches. They’re told everything is very dangerous, and they must be very careful about what they say, email, text, etc. And (I haven’t seen an exception yet) the teachers buy into it. Pretty soon they’re scared, talking about the danger, and spreading that junk back home to America. A spoiled batch of laborers infecting others! What a waste!

I recently met a wonderful student who’s been in China for a couple years. She told us with pride that the time from when she first felt called to come to China to the time she arrived was just a matter of weeks. She was in a hurry to get where God had called her. I wish she had spent a little more time thinking about what she’d be doing when she got here. Because she is involved in almost zero ministry. Please see the tragedy in that and steer others away from it!

If you’ve really got to come teach English, get in touch with a missionary on the field and ask them to help find you a position. Getting a job teaching English in China is about as hard as speaking English! Commit to working in a local church ministry with every spare second you’ve got! Proclaim the Gospel! Don’t get tied down in lesser commitments!

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8 Comments on “Not Destined For Popularity…”

  1. Justin Reinhardt September 1, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    What have you decided to do that is getting your work visa? God bless

  2. Kevin Bui September 1, 2009 at 10:22 am #

    i feel called to go to China after i graduate college in 2 yrs and want to work with youth directly what do options look like in that area of ministry of China. i def do not want to teach english and reach them directly for His kingdom. thanks for you blogs i have really enjoyed reading them.

  3. Maggie Turner September 28, 2009 at 3:58 pm #

    I’m interested to know about your other options for getting a visa. I’m leaving for China in about 5 weeks to teach English. Would love to know where you are working and what you’re up to in that area. Thanks!

  4. Megan Clark April 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    Hi! My husband & I are interested in this “proposition” 🙂

  5. Uncle M January 10, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    Hi brother. I really appreciate your insights. Much of what you write about characterizes my still somewhat early experiences serving in China. While I am not teaching English in the usual sense, I feel somewhat trapped/tied to an organization for visa purposes.

    I appreciate much of the “work” I am doing ; On the other hand, I do not believe it is what can properly be deemed the work that our Lord (along with my home assembly) has commended me to do. I have a family and cannot see a long term approach to remaining in China without my time being totally consumed in volunteer/work activities. I would be interested in having an email exchange if it is ok with you. Specifically, I would be interested in hearing more about your visa ideas and how to even begin contacting underground churches.

    In Him

  6. Elizabeth Bennet January 30, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    Hello 🙂 I am definitely interested in the proposition. I am very keen to go back to china and I am trying to work out the best way to do it. Thankyou for your article because I was thinking about teaching english. Please contact me asap. Thankyou again for all your articles.

  7. Tom February 16, 2015 at 8:01 am #

    What other options are you referring to?

  8. Ben Murray May 27, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

    Tell me the alternative visa options I have and who I can partner with in ministry there in China. I’ve trained for this all my life but I know little about how to get into China.

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