Emerging from the Chinese Church

Insights from Baptists… | February 19, 2007

I did my occasional blog perusing today and I came across Steve McCoy’s blog, the Reformissionary, and heard that the Southern Baptist Baptist Identity Conference is going on. Even though I refrain from referring to myself as a “Baptist”, I’ve learned a lot from teachers and pastors in the Southern Baptist Denomination. Ed Stetzer, one of the guys I quoted two posts back spoke at this conference and I’m going to listen to his lecture in a bit.

Now the INTRIGUING part of why I’m mentioning this on this site is because a comment about Stetzer’s lecture that was left on McCoy’s recent post by another blogger.

“1) the conservative resurgence was a good thing in its emphasis on theology and biblicism, and (2) that it has failed to pass the test of producing lives (speaking generally as to its affect on the convention as a whole) more passionate about missions (cf. James 3:13). That is an absolutely stinging rebuke. This is our job brothers. This is where our theological enthusiasm must be channeled. We must transfer our theological passion into a fuel that drives contextualized evangelism. ”

I know some people who are really conservative in their doctrine and theology, and that can be good, if ONLY it drives that contextualized evangelism! I think it was a really ball-sy thing for Stetzer to say… ESPECIALLY when I gather that the Southern Baptist usually assume that the good theology and biblicism will equate to a strong passion for missions.

Even though there were only a few, reading those comments have been great!

There was also another comment about how the SB’s were losing creative people in their church (at least what they found).

My friends, this is the connection I’ve found. We are losing creativity in the chinese church.

We are losing the creative minds for simply intellectual minds. We are losing creative minds for emotionally-charged individuals who leave the church. Creativity is one of the keys to the local body of Christ simply because God calls us to be and honestly, we as chinese Christians don’t waiver in that direction much at all.

Not to simply make generalizations, but Chinese (and asians in general) have a need to do well in school so they can have good careers and make a decent living… thus the jokes about chinese people only wanting to be doctors, lawyers, etc. I think partially, our culture’s pressures has affected our possibilities for being more creative people than simply rational and intellectual. This is not to say rational and intellectual people can’t be creative, but I am just displaying the evidence that I have come across.

We need realize again the urgency to be creative and have outlets to execute these creative ideas in the church. Sometimes I find that when we start looking towards the need for creativity, some people get scared of all the work it will take to start something new or just to start thinking and dialoguing about something new to happen. Some people feel nothing is wrong, or say that everything is fine in the chinese church… when certain people say “that was good/ok/alright, it’s all in God’s hands”… FOR SURE, but it doesn’t give us an excuse to let things just be? ESPECIALLY as leaders. (I hate it when we cheapen God’s grace)

Well, I don’t have any practical examples on hand, but what I can promise is that I will be starting to think about more creative ways to allow for creativity to happen in the local chinese church…

Will somebody creative from the chinese church please stand up?


Posted in Chinese Church


  1. Good post, Shu! I’ve found that people are quite willing to move towards more creativity, but they need to be led. One of the greater challenges isn’t finding people who are creative, it’s finding leaders who have an idea, will take responsibility for the project, follow through, and involve the community in the process.

    When there’s a meaningful and intriguing idea, they’ll naturally want to be a part of it. There are a lot of people who may not be very good at coming up with a concept, but are more than willing to help and to put their all into an initiative that they believe in.

    Another reason – could be that people confuse creativity with artistic ability, and get scared because they think they’re not artistic. Creativity is just about having fresh ideas, and ironically, it’s probably more about intelligence and wisdom than skill.

    As for the Chinese church, I don’t know if the arts is considered taboo; parents still send their kids to music and art classes – it might be because it’s not apparent how the arts is relevant or necessary to the faith. If we understood its potential for storytelling, communication and for evoking emotion, maybe we’d know how to better incorporate it.

    Comment by Weewian — February 23, 2007 @ 3:04 pm

  2. good call viv 😉 I agree wholeheartedly that we need the leaders to just… just… JUST GO FOR IT! haha!

    I think I can flush out this topic more if I had the time… but in my observations and actually a recent conversation with my past violin teacher, I’ve been pretty confirmed that creative lessons whether arts/music/etc aren’t meant to be continued into adulthood. They are more of a means for discipline and preparation for REAL world jobs that will give them financial security for the future. I believe that chinese culture in even MORE ancient traditions realized they needed artisans, actors and etc because it added to their community.

    I think the image of a “starving artist” has been embedded into our chinese culture for some reason… Like this is all circumspect, but I do believe that when chinese people immigrate over here, they aren’t expecting their kids to grow up to use their artistic abilities (unless they are a budding prodigy of some kind).

    In regards to the aspect of combining it with our faith, I think we can definitely see a sociological connection between what our culture desires and what God calls and imparts to us. Some are more about the logical, memorizing and etc skills, and that’s great. But we also should encourage those who understand their gifting to serve God, serve His people through artistic means. Whether music, art, drama, etc.

    I think Toronto is a perfect place for this kind of thinking to be further explored and hopefully enacted. But you’re totally right, we need the people to better facilitate in communication of it and leading the movement to incorporate it in a very practical way.

    Comment by shubox — February 23, 2007 @ 5:40 pm

  3. Yeah, it’s not easy to dialogue about the arts because the vocabulary isn’t as well understood or as developed — but, that’s the very nature of art. It’s not utilitarian, and so the connection to faith and life isn’t obvious.

    I’m encouraged that there seems to be an uprising of interest in the arts – Loren Cunningham believes that the way to reach this generation is through the arts and storytelling, whether it be commercially through the film industry, or locally.

    I’m starting to see that God’s preparing and calling artists to come forward. As much as they may have been brought up to value security in professional careers, there are more and more kids choosing to study the arts in university – design, film and media studies, architecture, dance.

    And the more talk there is about the need for creativity, the more this movement is being confirmed. I think we need to be praying about God’s movement through the arts, more than anything else.

    Comment by Weewian — February 27, 2007 @ 9:28 pm

  4. I find it particularly ironic that art is indirect communication as the language of the emotions, yet Asian culture itself is immersed in indirect communication, and cannot see the value of the arts.

    Comment by djchuang — March 4, 2007 @ 4:07 am

  5. I lived in Singapore for several years and noted a lot of creativity there. Of course, they are not “Chinese churches” there. There are only churches where most of the members happen to be Chinese. And that is the problem in America. There is no such thing as a “Chinese church.”

    Modern evangelicals have little sense of the importance of the unity of the church, something so important in scripture that it was one of Christ’s last petitions on earth (John 17) and which is one of the few specific sins that we are told to practice church discipline for the one who practices it (Titus 3:9-10). And yet in our day we think the church can be divided up for the apparent needs of “niche marketing.” We think we’re clever by having “target” groups for our churches, with apparently no understanding of what a “church” (ekklesia) really is. Ekklesia, the New Testament word for church, simply means “assembly”; quite literally it means “called out.” The ekklesia is God’s called out people and that consists of people of all ethnicities, not just people “like us.” We think we can, in our self-appointed sovereignty, chose which people we will call out. We can do that. We just shouldn’t call the result “a church.” This is true whether we’re trying to market a “Gen X” church or an American church or a Chinese church. All these are misguided, though perhaps well-intended, attempts to make a church the way we think bet. But if Christ is Lord of the Church then who are to think we can niche market it? He is the One who calls out those He has chosen to be part of the church. Let’s stop trying to do that for Him.

    Comment by John — March 15, 2007 @ 10:08 pm

  6. I would like to see a continuation of the topic

    Comment by Maximus — December 20, 2007 @ 6:54 am

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