Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

From East to West?

Written by: on February 26, 2015

“The number of Christians in Communist China is growing so steadily that it by 2030 it could have more churchgoers than America.” [i]

According to Taylor, the battle of our time is “between neo- and post-Durkheimiam construals of our condition, between different forms of religion and spirituality.”[ii] He explains how “the gamut of beliefs in something beyond widens, fewer declaring belief in a personal God, while more hold to something like an impersonal force; in other words, a wider range of people express religious beliefs which move outside Christian orthodoxy. Following in this line of growth of non-Christian religions, particularly those in the Orient, and the proliferation of New Age modes of practice, of views which bridge the humanist/spiritual boundary, of practices which link spirituality and therapy. On top of all this more and more people adopt what would earlier have been seen as untenable positions, e.g., they consider themselves Catholic while not accepting many crucial dogmas, or they combine Christianity with Buddhism, or they pray while not being certain they believe.” [iii]

Isn’t it ironic that the West has increased in the growth of ‘non-Christian religions, particularly those in the Orient’, while huge numbers of people in the Orient are embracing the Christian religion? For example, the growth of the underground Church in China is growing to such a degree that it is believed that China is on course to become the ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years, according to an article in The Telegraph. [iv] In an online article it published today, the writer states, “Officially, the People’s Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.” The writes goes on, “Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world’s number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.”

Who of us in the West would have imagined this in the Far East? China, a nation which has been deprived of religion in decades past, has in turn been left with such a spiritual hunger that it Christianity is flourishing. More than that – exploding. It is a hunger that is not only serving one’s own individual needs, but one that is expressing itself with a desire for mission and good works. As Ms. Shi, a Chinese preacher, said: “We have two motivations: one is our gospel mission and the other is serving society. Christianity can also play a role in maintaining peace and stability in society. Without God, people can do as they please.”

What is going on in the Orient with regards to Christianity and Religion is a far cry from what is happening in the West. Because of the growth that is taking place within the Church in China, there is a huge need for Christian education and literature. In fact, many underground house churches are led by women.

Who knows? Perhaps in years to come, we will soon see Chinese missionaries coming to the West to preach the Gospel. And may they come!

[i] As quoted in The Telegragh, 26 February 2015

[ii] Charles Taylor: A Secular Age (USA: Harvard Press, 2007), 510

[iii] Taylor, 513

[iv] The Telegragh, 26 February 2015.

About the Author

Liz Linssen

6 responses to “From East to West?”

  1. Deve Persad says:

    Great insight Liz. I am reminded of a time when I was in El Salvador and the church we were visiting was commissioning a couple to send to a city in Canada. How incredible to consider that here we were, being sent by the Lord to this country and here they were feel led by the Lord to send people our country. This overlap was very humbling indeed! To what extent do you think our comforts or capitalism has contributed to the lack of growth in the West? Especially considering the trials and persecution that many in China face for professing Christ.

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Hi Deve
      Yes, isn’t it so interesting to see the dynamics of Christianity around the world? I think it’s wonderful that other people groups are coming to post-Christian nations in the West to bring the gospel back.
      Of course materialism has so much to do with our current state of religion. After all, do we feel our need of God? Not half as much as those in other difficult nations. As Jesus said, it’s the poor in spirit who will see God. Those who recognise their desperate need of Him.

  2. Michael Badriaki says:

    Liz, thank you for the thought post. Indeed you write about the near and powerful reach of the gospel. I have enjoyed reading Taylor’s work and will hang onto it as a reason. I believe that he is reminding us about the remain steadfast on the power of gospel that reach the “East and West”.

    While the church is faced with the challenges Taylor raises, you’ve also reminded us of the supernatural at work. Your write “As Ms. Shi, a Chinese preacher, said: “We have two motivations: one is our gospel mission and the other is serving society. Christianity can also play a role in maintaining peace and stability in society. Without God, people can do as they please.”

    Amen and may that be the attitude of the age.

    Thank you!

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Hi Michael
      Thank you for your feedback.
      I was just reading this morning in Matthew 8 when a Roman Centurion approached Jesus and asked Him to just say the word so his servant would be healed. How did Jesus respond? He explains how many from East and West will enter the Kingdom of God. We are surely seeing that in our day! Amen Lord!

  3. Russ Pierson says:

    This is a lovely bit of work here, Liz–I like it!

    As your cohort has traveled hither and yon–and with one final great adventure yet to come for LGP4–you are all enjoying a front-row seat to the sweeping changes in our world. It is interesting to consider both what stays the same and what changes with this different “flavors” of the Christian faith, interacting with various cultures, events and eras. (By the way, LGP1 enjoyed the three international experiences in the same order as your cohort: Europe, Africa and Asia.)

    I also really loved your quiet, apt note that “many underground house churches are led by women.” I find it tragic that here in the States, as ultraconservative evangelicals seem to draw tighter and tighter lines in the sand, the issue of “women in ministry” is increasingly becoming a bone of contention, My only hope is that making these edges harder and thicker will force many of us who give lip-service to egalitarianism to face the implicit gender-bias that remains rampant in our churches.

    Thank you, Liz!


  4. My wife and I have personally witnessed the spiritual hunger in China. We have been smuggled into some of those underground meetings to worship in quiet and preach in a whisper. We have smuggled countless Bibles and leadership material to help with leadership and pastoral training. We hope to be there again this October after our cohort meets in Hong Kong.

    Have you heard of the “return to Jerusalem” movement that the Chinese church is instigating. It is a desire to complete the circle of the spread of Christianity around the entire globe. As it started in Jerusalem and headed west across Africa, and Europe then into the United States and Latin America back around to China, they desire to continue the same pattern as they head across the Middle East… back to Jerusalem.

    It is truly a sad circumstance that we have found ourselves in where the West, though enjoying the presence of God for many centuries, has decided to outgrow the Lord. While Asia, Africa, and let America are producing emerging Christian nations that have a powerful desire both know God and make him known. I agree with you that it will not be long until we see Chinese missionaries heading in all directions to share the powerful relationship found in Jesus Christ.

Leave a Reply