Predicament of Attracting Young People to the Church is the Biggest Crisis, Pastor Says

A picture shows the workshop of Amity Foundation's
A picture shows the workshop of Amity Foundation's (photo: Amity Foundation)
By Li ShiguangJuly 14th, 2023

"Do the pastors of other churches ever think about the problems of a lack of young believers?"


Upon hearing my response, Pastor Chen Hongyuan (pseudonym) was profoundly astonished and found it incredulous that only a few church pastors genuinely prioritize the spiritual commitment of young individuals.

Pastor Chen serves in an urban church popular in the southern region of China and has been dedicated to his ministry for over three decades, starting in his twenties. In recent years, he has directed his focus towards the faith of the current generation of young people, recognizing it as the most formidable crisis confronting the Chinese church today.

While numerous pastors concentrate on the growth of church membership, the expansion of congregation size, group pastoral care, and the establishment and enhancement of church systems, they often disregard the matter of staff succession, namely, the nurturing of young believers.

Having visited various locations, I discovered that pastors born in the 1980s demonstrate concern for the pastoral care of young individuals. There are pastors who have married and are grappling with the challenge of instilling faith in their own young family members. For the church, the strategic issue lies in how to attract a greater number of young people to embrace the Lord and provide them with proper guidance.

Pastor Chen affirms that, in recent years, the religious landscape for young people in China has appeared discouraging. The crisis of faith that was previously observed among young individuals in Europe, the United States, South Korea, Singapore, and other countries has now manifested within the Chinese church as well. Without implementing changes, the Chinese church will face a predicament where competent believers are scarce and even faith in the Lord dwindles.

However, an even more disconcerting aspect of this crisis is the unawareness of many pastors regarding its severity. "Perhaps they perceive the dearth of young individuals in the church as normal, believing that the church should primarily consist of middle-aged and elderly members. Yet, if this trend persists, we will witness the gradual decline of the church within another decade or two," added Pastor Chen.

"We have made efforts over the years to organize happiness groups and inspirational courses, discovering their effectiveness, particularly among the middle-aged and elderly population. Regrettably, there is no effective approach to attract young people to the church." He admitted that getting young individuals to embrace faith is a challenge he has been struggling with.

"No matter what the church endeavors to do in order to foster faith among young people, the majority of them remain unresponsive. We feel helpless when confronted with vacant expressions and indifferent gazes while we're spreading the gospel."

Pastor Chen has made attempts to discover effective methods of attracting young people to the church but has achieved limited success thus far.

"Whenever other churches invite me to share my faith, I will undoubtedly address this issue (faith among young people). It is, without a doubt, the most pressing crisis confronting the church today."

Pastor Chen believes that pastors should not only concentrate on the immediate needs of the church but also consider its state ten or twenty years from now. Otherwise, even if the church prospers presently, there will be no one to carry it forward in the future. After a decade or two, everything that once belonged will fade away, akin to a fleeting flower or a reflection in the mirror.

Pastor Chen believes that pastors should not only focus on the current needs of the church but also consider the situation of the church ten or twenty years from now. Otherwise, even if the church is doing well now, no one can inherit it in the future. After ten or twenty years, you will find that there is nothing left. Because there would be no people in the church, and everything that was once owned would become a flower in the water and a moon in the mirror.

We must accord sufficient attention to the crisis of inadequate young believers and implore God to reveal a path for the future of the Chinese church. Should the church continue to falter in resolving the crisis of faith among young people, it will have no prospect for the future.

- Translated by Nicolas Cao

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