Interview: Shortage of Young Church Workers Is Much Related to Money

A picture shows a young woman holding some books.
A picture shows a young woman holding some books. (photo:
By Li ShiguangSeptember 20th, 2022

The reason why churches in China are now suffering from a serious shortage of young staff is related to money, a young pastor claimed. 

A few days ago, the Christian Times, an online Chinese Christian newspaper, interviewed Brother W, a young pastor in East China. W believes that money is at play in both the difficulty of recruiting seminary students and the replacement of old church workers.

He said he knows of many seminaries across the country that have had difficulty recruiting in recent years, with seminaries generally struggling to fill their seats.

The direct cause of this phenomenon is that after many seminary students graduate, no church is willing to recruit them. Many of the local churches in the hometowns of the seminary students are not willing to accept them. Even if some churches are willing to accept them, every time there is a special situation, like when the pandemic is serious, and the church is closed, the livelihood of these young seminary graduates would become a big issue. Then the church got people together to raise money for them. "Well, how do you get these young people to serve full-time? There is no basic life security for them," he confessed. 

Brother W believes that the reason why many churches are reluctant to recruit recent seminarians is complicated. "The capability of seminarians is usually not strong enough. They can often talk fluently but they cannot practice what they say well. What they learn is all from books and they have few practical operations. So the churches do not like to recruit them. At the same time, there are some old preachers in the church who do not want to give the altars to the young people. I think this is a big problem for the churches in China," he added. 

One important reason why they are reluctant to retire is that older workers are not well guaranteed in terms of retirement benefits. For example, if a worker is on the job, he can get five or six thousand yuan every month, which is still much. But if he quits, he can only get about 1,000 yuan a month. Some churches do not pay pensions at all, and some pay very little. So some of the older workers keep on working and are unwilling to retire.

Brother W insists that there is another important reason that prevents young preachers from serving full-time in the church lies in the stagnant development of the church. "If the church could keep developing, and more and more churches could be built up, more intern workers would naturally be needed," he urged. 

"In my opinion, the church should establish and improve the salary security system for church workers, especially the pension system. However, it seems that many churches are busy with other affairs and do not pay enough attention to this aspect. Until now, no corresponding system has been established and perfected. So that stops a lot of young people from going to seminaries. There are a lot of seminary graduates who are not willing to work in the churches or there is no church that wants them. After they graduate, they still need to look for other jobs, which is quite a waste of the educational resources in the seminaries," he concluded. 

- Translated by Nicolas Cao

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