When I was in college, I joined a student organization, a drama troupe. I rehearsed many dramas with the troupe for three years. After graduation, I kept in contact with the members. When one of them encountered a problem in life, the whole team participated in the conversation to solve the problem. Finally, a pragmatic solution was given after discussion. Those with money contributed money and others devoted effort to help him.
Later I became a pastor. I attended many church training programs and also gave training. I took a part in church retreats as well. Overall, these activities gave me an impression that all the church teachings were deeply homogenized and shared little difference. They were nearly the same.
Pastors always gave vulgar sermons, preaching around some familiar verses back and forth, When it came to group sharing, I found out that the group leader explained a lesson from a discipleship book routinely. After this, the group members perfunctorily shared their situation and prayed for one another.
I recognized that nobody could solve concrete problems. Our discussion was just empty talk and ended up committing problems to God and the need to pray for it. It was invalid communication.
Congregations are too homogenized, sharing similar identities and social classes. They regard a topic with basically the same perspective, so the discussion results in no actual result. Over time, all the church members are unwilling to talk about their actual problems with their groups and church.
Inside many WeChat groups initiated by a church, most of the members just repost messages and certain styles of articles that stir the blood, give chicken soup, or disseminate sufferings. A large percentage of the articles probe into the world situation and international events but have no connection with people's daily lives and who they really are.
Many times, Christian are knowledgeable. They know stories of Nepalese Christian martyrs but are unaware of which bus they should take.
Church homogenization is not a natural phenomenon. According to the law of church development, every believer has his own characteristics in terms of character and vocation. However, high homogeneity exists in today's Chinese churches and the makeup of congregations.
In my opinion, this kind of church is abnormal and defective. It turns out to be an ineffective and unvital civil society, particularly in a transforming society, failing to play its social role. For example, almost all churches advocate charities yet have no idea how to carry out charitable activities at the mention of church's social responsibility, just wishing to provide relief and donate clothes wherever earthquakes occur.
I hold that homogeneity in the church stems from a homogeneous theology that lacks substance and leads to unitary doctrines. As a result, a closed internal church ecosystem has formed. There is a universal explanation of society. As new social common sense is unable to enter the church, people who stay in the church are generally homogenized. Therefore, there is no way for the church to complete self-renewal and progress within itself.
I hope that the church can be humanized, diversified, and individualized. The teachings in the pulpit can offer a set of open source code that allows every believer to write code out of their Christian faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit.
I hope even that more accidents and emergencies can fall on the church to bring about more tense and liveliness so that routine group gatherings and devotionals can be reduced. I hope for more smiles that come from the heart, freedom, and calmness that come from God.
- Translated by Karen Luo