Emerging from the Chinese Church

The Chronicles of Chinese Suburbia: Prayer Meetings | May 23, 2008

I figure coinciding with CON-PC, I would also post the Chronicles of Chinese Suburbia!  So something that I have been drowning in for the past while has been… Chinese Church Prayer Meetings.

Prayer.  C’mon.  What church does NOT believe in prayer?  I’m sure no self-proclaimed Christian would not say that prayer is ineffective and not worth the time.  Now I could also say that no CHINESE Christian would also say prayer has no purpose or is a waste of time, but now let’s look at the facts:

– I am 99.99999% sure that almost all the prayer meetings in the chinese church are held by their CORE members (deacons, pastors, etc)

– I am also sure that most of the emerging generation does not join these people in their prayer meetings.

– Despite numerous attempts to advertise prayer as an important part of the church or community, numbers dwindle in the chinese church prayer meetings more so than ever.

Ok, these “facts” are not really facts, but you get my drift.  Why is prayer as a community so “uncool”, so “unimportant”, even a deterrant?  I for one, honestly haven’t been to prayer meetings in a while.  I guess I’m a hypocrite on this one, but it’s not because I don’t WANT to pray, it’s because I feel like I want to pray with my community, not just my co-workers or elders in the congregation!

I wonder if this is a common phenomena in the chinese church in that there is a generational rift in terms of feeling “comfortable” praying with each other on a regular basis.  Sure there are fellowship programs or for university students there are campus groups to pray with.  But isn’t there POWER in praying together as the local church body???  Doesn’t bringing our requests and thanksgiving to the Lord in prayer connect us as a community of faith in Christ?  Why is it so hard to pray together as a congregation of diverse generations!!!

First of all, I’ve heard it all, start your own prayer meeting.  That’s a possibility.  But that could undermine the prayer meeting in place already.  Secondly, commit to that prayer meeting already and influence others to come.  I would also ask the question whether this meeting is the best means for the community to connect together (especially if the time is used wisely enough).

Most prayer gatherings (especially chinese) seem to need elements like music-worship or music in the background to get things “rolling”.  I find that sometimes that is distracting from the goal of gathering together to pray!  We come together to pray (and we set aside the time itself), why can’t we JUST PRAY.  It’s like we need a whole “small service” just because it’s a church-wide event!

Anyways, that’s my rant on prayer meetings in the chinese church, here are some thoughts I’ve considered:

– Since we all recognize prayer time as a community does not have to be restricted to the “PRAYER MEETING” time, can’t we be more fluid?  Pray as a group when there are people there together?

– Is it fine to just pray in our small/cell groups or fellowship and be fine with those “prayer meetings”?

– Prayer is integral to our lives and needs to be the lifeblood of our church community, but how important is the “prayer meeting” event itself?  Can we do without it and start something more creative?  What would that look like?

– Should we TRY HARDER to bridge the generations and “cultures” to pray together?  or try to be more accomodating and fluid?

“pray Continually; – 1 Thess 5:17”

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