Urban Church in Northern China Explores Transforming Believers' Faith from 'Church-oriented' Model to 'Family' and 'Living' Model

A picture of a Christian family worshiping God in home
A picture of a Christian family worshiping God in home (photo: Getty Images)
By Li ShiguangAugust 16th, 2023

Brother Wang Zhenhai has served in a northern urban church for many years. According to his observation, many believers strongly associate their faith with the “church”. The so-called “church-oriented faith” refers to the separation of a person’s faith: in the church, he is a normal Christian, and everything seems fine. However, when they are outside their churches, they seem to have changed from being Christians to being non-Christians, just like a worldly person. Especially for married believers, the phenomenon of “church-oriented faith” is obvious.

Brother Wang said that although the couple is Christian, in fact, many family chores easily “upgrade” and affect the relationship between the two. In this regard, he believed that only God and God’s words can change people, and people are really powerless. From the initial quarrel to the gradual cessation of the quarrel after God’s intervention, we need to go through a process of gradually breaking and renewing ourselves.

Economic factors will greatly affect the relationships within a family

Brother Wang said that economic conditions is an utterly realistic issue. Especially in recent years, many families’ financial burdens have become increasingly heavier, such as mortgages and car loans, coupled with the need of raising a child. He believed that economic problems were definitely realistic. If economic problems cannot be solved, family relationships are doomed to be poor. If the family relationship is not good, family members cannot concentrate on serving God, not to mention serving God well.

“To tell you the truth, I’m not talking about how rich a family should be. I’m saying that at least the family is not in debt. A family that doesn’t owe debts is definitely much easier than a family that does and struggles to pay them off. For instance, if a family’s income is not enough to repay a debt of 3,000 or 5,000 Yuan per month, then this will become a very heavy pressure,” Brother Wang said.

In order to solve or alleviate financial problems, many people will desperately try everything to get money, such as applying for credit cards, consumer loans, online loans, private loans, and so on. During his years of service, he has seen too many such cases. At first, debtors may feel no pressure, but the real crisis of debt is hidden, which, when a series of them gradually accumulates, becomes out of control, and debtors finally find it impossible to repay. The consequence is that the more they pay, the more they owe.

Brother Wang believed that now it is time for churches to remind followers of the possible consequences of loans, give them a good warning in advance, and let them be alert to loan traps. That is what Brother Wang’s church does. As early as a few years ago, they began to remind believers not to invest indiscriminately for the years to come, not to invest blindly, and to be careful not to lose all their money. Otherwise, if a family was under heavy crisis and pressure, quarrels were commonplace, and emotional breakdowns and infidelity were also common. The final result was the breakdown of this family.

From “church-oriented” model to the “family” and “living” models (1): congregation-wide devotions 

Faced with the increasingly serious issue of “ecclesiastical” belief in these years, as well as the numerous crises and pressures in marriage and family, Brother Wang’s church merely insists on doing spiritual work and establishing a close relationship with God through devotions. “The vast majority of Christians receive only one or two sermons a week, and they spend most of the time outside their church.” Brother Wang went on to say, “In other words, people are often influenced and assimilated more seriously by society, and the influence of the church on people is often very limited.”

In this regard, his church focuses on promoting individual spiritual practice this year, and it is also a nationwide invitation. Every believer can participate. At first, many people did not want to attend because they thought meditation would take too long. However, once they started to do this, they were surprised to find that spiritual practice could really bring great power.

From the “church-oriented” model to the “family” and “living” models (2): family worship

In addition to the nationwide spiritual practice campaign, two years ago, his church promoted family worship for believers. In the beginning, only a few families participated, but now, two years later, most families do so, in which many believers’ faith gradually changed from the “church” to “family”, and then further became the “living” model.

In terms of family worship, Brother Wang has made many “worship templates”. Specifically, the weekly family worship is really made up of templates, and all the content has been designed, including the scriptures and their explanations and applications.

In the beginning, many believers held a contradictory attitude toward family worship. In fact, people are passive and do not want to bother themselves. A working day is often a long one. When they finally get home, they will have to do family worship without rest. From “no” to “yes”, people need to go through a process of changing their thoughts and attitudes. The role that pastors can play is to encourage believers and then help them accelerate this transformation process.

- Translated by Charlie Li

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