Many pastors believe that since China's reform and opening up, churches have prioritized increasing the number of believers over enhancing the quality of faith. This focus has led to various shortcomings and issues within the churches.
Historically, churches emphasized individual believers over families, with size and believer numbers attracted as the key metrics. The believer's marital status, family's faith, and lifestyle were often overlooked.
Many Chinese believers are single when they embrace faith. Believers who have non-believing spouses often face obstacles, persecution, and even violence from their non-believing spouses and others.
While believers feel graceful in the church, their home life can be vastly different. The separation of beliefs and lives is evident, prompting the need for a more integrated approach where believers receive love and grace in the church and reciprocate at home.
The model of prioritizing church size over the well-being of believers' families is deemed unhealthy. Pastors and believers alike must prioritize healthy family lives as they significantly impact overall well-being. For ordinary believers, family holds more significance than the church.
In recent years, pastors have recognized the importance of marriage and family. Pastor Liu, who specializes in marriage ministry in a city in northwest China, stresses the importance of believers marrying fellow believers for a strong and lasting faith.
He finds that some Christians who have been pillars of church services when they are single will stop serving once they get married to unbelieving or nominally believing partners. Yet, after quitting the service, the believers do not live a happy married life, and many later abandon their faith. However, if they marry fellow believers, their faith will be firm.
Elder Luo has served in a church in a northern city for many years. Acknowledging the mobility of single young people and the stability of families, Luo's church introduced marriage preparation courses and promoted family altars. Emphasizing stable families for a stable church, they encourage family worship, viewing a family as a mini-church.
They have been working hard to promote family altars and worship in the past two years. In the beginning, only a few families attended, but now dozens of families have started to do family worship services.
Acknowledging the neglect of pastoral and humanistic care in many lively church activities, some pastors advocate "relationships first, ministry second." They believe that a flourishing church grows from strong relationships, especially those between spouses and within families.
Some pastors consider encouraging believers to exemplify their faith in their families as a vital church task. “Our church attaches great importance to believers’ spirituality and family lives. Therefore, there are increasingly more couples and families in our church.”
- Translated by Charlie Li