Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, churches across China have experienced many challenges, such as the loss of believers which has troubled many pastors.
However, in some churches, the numbers of believers grow slightly, like in the following four cases.
Pastor X (pseudonym) mainly serves young and middle-aged people in a church in South China. He said, "No matter the circumstances, pastors should realize that it is important for Christians to gather in person. During the lockdown, we still broadcast the service and conduct video chats. We require staff workers, including the praise group members, to serve on site.”
He shared, "Every time when the outbreak is over, we immediately transfer to face-to-face gatherings, not conducting virtual service anymore even if some people apply for it. We think that Jesus was incarnate, so our worship and fellowship also need to be done in person."
"Once Christians are accustomed to online gatherings, they are unwilling to go to the lengths of attending onsite services."
With members of all ages in his church in South China, Pastor W said, “No matter what the environment is, church gatherings held on-site or online cannot be ceased. Pastors or leaders need to know that the church is like a fast-moving vehicle. For example, high-speed trains stop for 3-8 minutes at each station, and many people get off the train. Even in difficult situations, the weekly gatherings can't stop, otherwise, some believers may leave."
Though influenced by the epidemic, they flexibly adjust in many ways, conducting group gatherings and online services or meeting in public outdoor places, such as in parks. "We always insist on meeting face to face or gathering online if conditions don’t permit. Strengthening team cohesion and linkage, the number of our church is not decreased, but has grown."
Originally from East China, Pastor L stated, "During the epidemic, the impact on Christians with good inner life is not very big, as our church attaches great importance to improving the level of the leadership team. If pastors grow rapidly, they can be adaptable to the changeable environment. I am responsible for helping the pastoral group to grow up so that the epidemic can hardly affect the church and the group.”
"As a pastor, he should understand the needs of the church members and make resource allocation. For example, believers may need spiritual care counseling, parenting education, marriage counseling, and workplace counseling, which pastoral leaders need to pay attention to. During the epidemic, we don’t suffer the loss of believers."
Leading young and middle-aged Christians, Pastor J from South China recalled that he seized the opportunity of nourishing Christians after the outbreak. "On the one hand, we organize every ten believers living nearby to gather in a family to attend online services, praying and caring for each other.”
"The second aspect, in 2020 when COVID-19 broke out, I opened an account to release five small videos lasting five minutes every day for five consecutive months, inspiring upset Christians who were locked at their homes in need of pastors’ encouragement. With greater cohesion and unity in worship, new people join us without the loss of church members," he concluded.
- Translated by Abigail Wu