The Role of Christianity in China’s Urbanization (Part I)

Church Pastoring
Church Pastoring (photo: CCD File Photo)
By Yamin XueSeptember 29th, 2016

China's rapid urbanization brought about economic growth as well as the progress of science and technology. However, a series of conflicts and social problems have arisen during this process such as the destruction of environment, the lack of personal beliefs and the collapse of traditional values.This article is a disscussion on the role of Christianity in China's urbanization. This is the first part.

The Role of Christianity in China's urbanization (Part I) 


Nobel laureate in Economics, Stiglitz, once said: "China's urbanization and the high-tech development of the US will affect the development of human society in the 21st century." China's rapid urbanization brought about economic growth as well as the progress of science and technology. However, a series of conflicts and social problems have arisen during this process such as the destruction of environment, the lack of personal beliefs and the collapse of traditional values.

1.Results of urbanization

According to China's Health Development Planning Commission, urbanization rate of China will reach 60% and 160 million floating population will be in urban areas in 2030. Such fast and large population migration has let more people get a better living environment.

At the same time, the traditional rural relations and values in China are broken. Under the influence of secularization, people in the city gradually lost their trust of religion, society and the government. Their happiness is ignored due to many negative factors. 

(1) Rural areas: Original social structures collapse and farmers lost their belief of Christianity

China used to have a large agricultural population and the majority of China's Christians are farmers. Believers in grassroots churches of rural areas are usually friends and relatives so they have a strong sense of belonging and identity in the church.

However, extreme desire of materials and unfair phenomenon everywhere in the city make their heart blind. They have lost their belief of Christianity and then left the church.

 (2) Urban areas: Belief crisis and recession of religious awareness among the new generation

Rich materials and consumerism in cities have a great influence on the new generation and lead to recession of religious awareness among them. Entertainment occupies most of youngsters' leisure time. They think going to church is less appealing than computer games and parties. Even some children from Christian families are not willing to go to church at weekends. They would rather lie in the bed and sleep late.

The modern city life also changed the relationship between parents and children. When children grow up and go to college or work, they will be separated from their parents. Parents can't bring children to the church or supervise their religious life any more. It becomes hard to sustain the belief of the whole family.

 (3) The church: Challenges from secularization

Now people usually take science as their belief of value instead of religion. Keith A.Roberts said in his research of religion and social relations: "The education system, science and technology have led to the trust crisis of religion." Faced with the development of modern society and the concept of "secularization", the church shall have the courage to react.

We shall grasp the new trend and persist in gospel at the same time. Jesus has mentioned the relations between believers and the world. He said believers don't belong to the world but they shall stay in the world so as to keep people from vice.

From this perspective, we shall not deny our responsibility like Buddhists or value the church with secularity. We shall participate in social education, charity and organizations in the community. Let's take these activities as an organic part of belief. Always rely on God and balance the relationship between the growth of spiritual life and new things in the society

2.The role of belief in urbanization

The impacts of urbanization on people include different values, new products and way of life. Urbanization also makes Christians and the church understand modern society from the angel of belief.

(1) The records of a city in the Bible

The New Testament records a church in Philippians, a big and diversified city. Philippians is a microcosm of modern cities. Believers from different classes of the society get along well with each other and worship God together. The church was prosperous in Philippians.

China's rapid urbanization has brought about many problems in housing, medical care, education and other fields of life. In the final analysis, these problems are related to and caused by people. Limited resource leads to prominent social contradictions. The church can't solve them directly but can promote mutual love between people. People from different classes are able to feel the equality in front of God and get the respect they deserve in the church. 

(2) God is our only hope in urbanization

As Christians, we shall think how to gain the grace of god and the hope of eternal life in the constantly changing environment. The atmosphere of money worship is serious in modern society and wealth is the only measure of success. People become cold and show no respect for the poor.

Apostle Paul said that we should learn to be content with both prosperity and adversity since we trust in God. Paul reminds us that God gives Christians power of life. We shall fulfill the responsibility and do the right things in our life under the guidance of God.

 An extra-large fire explosion accident happened in Tianjin, one of the biggest cities in China on August 12, 2015. The fire and explosion claimed 114 lives. The families of victims suffer great sadness. How can they eliminate trauma in their heart?

The Old Testament recorded that the reverence of God is the beginning of wisdom. The meaning of life is based on our knowledge of God. We can only rely on our God. By always looking up to him, our soul and body will get power. 

(3) Believe in God's words and hold a right attitude towards challenges in life

There is a tradition in China that elders' wealth and rights are inherited by their offspring. Rich second generation and second governor generation have caused widespread debate in our society. In western countries, the children of Bill Gates or President also need to rely on their own efforts to realize dreams and create wealth. Rich people are more willing to devote their wealth to society instead of giving their all money to children.

A saying goes that the safest way to hell is a smooth path without obstacles. How can we Christians choose the right way of life? We need god's lead. Christians shall establish a solid relationship with God. When our behavior deviates from rules of God, the Bible will teach us how to amend the mistakes and come back to the right track.  When we meet obstacles in urban life, the teachings of the Bible let us face the challenges of life with a positive attitude.

Obsession of money, sensual enjoyment and other people's applause is harmful for the growth of the Christians. These beliefs of value often go against God's words and lead to pride and loneliness.

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