New Bible Study Update

This has been an exciting weekend for our church. Yesterday we held our first Bible study in the far northern district of the city. There’s a university nearby, and we’ve spent the past few weeks running up there whenever we had a chance. But yesterday was our first real service. I think there were 21 students from that university, supplemented by a great group of about ten from our church. Praise the Lord for a good first week! The service went great – besides my preaching, which was worse than usual!

I seem to have forgotten already what it’s like to speak to a predominantly unbelieving group! It’s tougher than I remember! Preaching to an audience like that seems to have an extreme polarizing effect as well. You have people absolutely rejecting the message on one side, and people begging for more information on the other. This seems to be the kind of audience that Paul often preached to in the book of Acts. These audiences have high turnover rates – lots don’t come back. But those who are thrilled by the message also have a tendency to bring their friends. So it’s an exciting time – a time to lay the foundation for what we pray will be a long-term witness in this area of the city.

Something new (to us) that we’re trying in this location is to rent space from a business. This is an option that we hadn’t really considered before here, though it is often used by church plants in the States. Guess we kind of assumed that it would be impossible here (and it could still prove to be so!). Karaoke is a very big deal in China, and there are clubs all over the city. They rent you a room equipped with microphones, speakers, a projector and screen, etc. on an hourly rate. Since the karaoke club nearest the university doesn’t open ’til one in the afternoon, we made a deal with them to use their largest room at a discounted rate Sunday mornings before they open. Here’s the rundown so far…

Advantages:
1) The location is perfect – everyone knows the place, and it’s a minute from the campus
2) The price is low – much cheaper than renting out a house, thus highly reproducible
3) No neighbors – probably the most volatile factor in a house church’s safety
4) Great cover – it’s perfectly normal for a bunch of students to crowd into a karaoke club
5) Excellent set-up – the room is outfitted very comfortably and suitably, and there are more bathrooms available than any house would have

Disadvantages:
1) There’s no place to use throughout the week – but as we have other houses that we’ve rented already, this isn’t a big problem for us
2) A lot depends on the manager of the club – he could get us into some trouble if he wished, but this is true to a point of the incidental relationships involved in any rental agreement

So, lots to pray about concerning the future up north! I hope you’ll join us!

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