The church is a platform that can often reach out to different social groups. For instance, there are workplace groups, rural migrant worker groups, intellectual groups, stay-at-home mothers and disabled groups and so on. Recently, the Christian Times interviewed brother W who specializes in serving the intellectual community, and he shared his experience and sentiment of pastoring this community for more than 10 years.
Brother X is an intellectual Christian who did philosophy and culture research for many years, and later became a Christian. In the process, he experienced from the usual kind of wait-and-see attitude, cool judgment of the Christian faith, and then the mental journey of being broken and inspired by God’s truth and love. Brother X said frankly, “The first characteristic of intellectuals is that they are rational. For instance, when pastors talk about miracles in the Bible, it is difficult for such people to understand and accept them. When pastors talk about Genesis chapter 1 to chapter 11, involving cosmology, astronomical galaxies, geology, archaeology and other fields, many pastors themselves are lack of confidence concerning these topics, so the intellectuals are the group that will have rational debates and doubting questions on such topics. They will use reason to analyze, and then go around a big circle, and eventually they will not return to what the Bible is about, but become rational analysts.”
“This factor will influence intellectuals to open their hearts to listen to God’s Word. In fact, the Bible is telling a creation myth, which is a poetic style. These kind of people are rational. On the positive side, it can promote pastors to discover their blind spots and promote pastors to grow up again. On the other hand, some questions are inconclusive, so people should not get caught up in them and ignore the core message of faith. However, it is often difficult to convince these people or even leave their faith because the pastors are not deep enough or refuse to answer or prevaricate.”
“When pastoring intellectuals, whether preaching or talking with them, pastors need to give a basic framework and logic. For instance, when pastors talk about Kings, if you can share it with a basic framework and logic, they will be more convinced. When preaching, it is also best to have a basic framework and outline. If pastors follow their own feelings, it is difficult to attract such people without logic and a sense of system.” Brother X adds.
Brother X continues, “Among the intellectuals, there is a kind called humanistic intellectuals. These people have a good opinion of Christianity, but their background is the background of Chinese culture. Some people will say that they feel very comfortable and concentrated in reading of the Analects of Confucius, but when reading the Bible, they feel that there is something like a gap. Therefore, when this happens, pastors need to do cross-cultural communication, and pastors need to compare and interpret the characters in Chinese culture with this theme in the Bible, so as to help these people establish a cultural identity and natural input. For instance, Jerusalem and the Forbidden City, one is the city of God and the other is the center of imperial power. There are similarities and differences between the two in cultural comparison, but the ultimate goal is to make each other better accept the values and cultural views in the Bible.”
“Intellectuals in a broad sense include: lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, etc. This kind of group is actually the most difficult to open their hearts, because they all wear a professional mask. They are very eager to be respected by others. Therefore, these people are very proud, have a strong sense of self-esteem, and are unwilling to open their weakness to pastors and staff. They are even less willing to accept being broken. They often say, “I can carry it. I have no problem.” The breaking of the traditional church is not very effective for them. They won’t behave like ordinary wives when their husbands are derailed, they will cry at church for this is easier to be broken and healed.”
Brother X suggests, “To raise this kind of people, pastors need to have a certain knowledge reserve and give this kind of people a room to communicate, debate and collide with each other. In this process, we need to pray for them a lot. In the work of the Holy Spirit, they can be moved and guided so that they can only rely on their minds to analyze God’s Word and faith, and finally know God with their hearts and honesty, and experience their own faith.”
- Translated by Charlie Li