It's not easy to do anything in this world and we shouldn’t expect it to be smooth if one wants to do things for the church. Sometimes there will be ‘storms’, but we believe that God has never left the church (if you think of it as a ship) because God is the God at the helm, and he is the God who leads us to sail continuously to our destination.
The need for pastors is high.
The first impression we have of urban migrant workers may be that they are looking for jobs, their elderly family members stay behind to attend the children (or perhaps mainly women who stay behind) as well as the young working class who participate in different jobs. It is not easy to set up a church for urban migrant workers to begin with because it takes a lot of resources, which require not only the commitment of pastors but also suitable venues and a proper gathering time. Considering that most groups working in cities have very strict requirements on time, some have time in the morning and evening, and some have time at noon. Therefore, the scheduling of city churches requires that clergy and pastors must painstakingly arrange them one by one.
Newly established churches of urban migrant workers need not only the time that pastors can give but also a lot of their energy, and pastors have more to let go than believers. A newly established church puts many demands on pastors. There are courses and lectures that need to be prepared. They must also be distributed and delivered in different stages. Because there are old and new believers in the new urban church for working class one pastor is far from enough. Many pastors are needed to coordinate with each other, including those responsible for training, those responsible for prayers, those responsible for group Bible study, those responsible for visiting and caring for the training of new believers, and those who preach the gospel to save people.
The demand for economic resources is high.
In fact, for a new church, one of the major problems is finances. Renting places requires funds, the daily expenses of the church need economic support, and the everyday life of a pastor also needs funds. On the other hand, the church needs to buy tables and chairs, communion sets, kitchen utensils, and so on. I visited a newly established urban working-class church and found that the church was facing more economic pressure. Although believers would give, there were shortages sometimes because the expenses in different areas were different. If the church needed to support its staff, it needed to meet their basic living needs and additional family subsidies so that people could be attracted and pastors could work exclusively.
When I went to northern Henan, I saw that some pastors were laid off. The reason was that the churches of the urban working class lack young people, all of whom were old people. Because the elderly believers did not have a fixed job and could not afford to support their pastors they finally chose to leave the city church and chose to serve another church while also working to earn money. Later, the pastors rarely went to the church where he served.
Preaching the gospel is difficult.
When a church is founded, we often focus on "how many people there are in the church". In fact, this focus is only about the number, but a revived church is concerned not only with the number of people but also with the improvement in quality and spiritual growth.
Evangelism is the way out for the church. Newly established city churches are full of challenges in preaching because there are people with different backgrounds and beliefs in the city and even atheists. When faced with people of different groups and identities, the ways and methods of preaching the gospel will also be different. In addition, there are many crises and obstacles in the external environment and the gospel ministry is full of difficulties.
In some areas I visited, the local gospel choir and dance teams were stopped. It seemed that many people thought that singing must be done in a church and not in other places.
Although there are many working groups in cities whose churches have just been established, I believe that God will keep providing guidance because the church is not our own, and God is responsible for the stability of the church. I firmly believe that God will open a way for the present church to preach the gospel.
- Translated by Charlie Li