China (MNN) — The growth of the church in China continues at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, the number of trained Christian leaders isn't keeping pace. That can lead to theologies that mix Christianity and other beliefs, creating what the Apostle Paul calls "another Gospel."
China Partner is concerned about this and is doing something about it. MNN caught up with the ministry's president Erik Burklin who's on a training visit in China. Burklin says the registered church in China is training church leaders. "There are now, today, 21 officially-sanctioned Bible schools and seminaries in China."
These Bible schools and seminaries are having an impact, but they can't help every Christian leader. While Christians have been dependent on this kind of training, Burklin says churches are starting Bible training centers. "These Bible Training Centers are run by local pastors for lay pastors, or for those individuals who come from the countryside who would not have the finances to go to a regular Bible school or a seminary."
On top of providing support for Bible schools and seminaries, China Partner is now coming alongside these church ministries. "Over the last five years we have concentrated on training lay pastors and church leaders."
Burklin says most of these lay pastors have regular full-time jobs. "Then on the weekend, they're expected to preach a sermon at a local church, yet they have not had any Bible training or any theological training — not because they don't want to, but just because they can't afford it or they can't even get a hold of that."
This training is getting help into areas where most of the Christians can be found. "They are in the countryside. They are in the small villages all across China. Many of them are under-educated. They have a strong desire to want to grow in their knowledge of the Word of God, so they're just drinking in any kind of training they can get their hands on."
China Partners is providing practical training in pastoral care, discipleship training, biblical leadership, and basic hermeneutics, or how to study the Bible. Burklin says this training is in great demand. "New churches are being birthed all the time. They have, on average, about 100 baptisms in a local church every year."
China Partner works with the above-ground church to facilitate the training.
Recently, China Partner has worked in Nanchang, Jaingxi Province, and Changsha, Hunan Province training Christians who will actually be the trainers of these lay pastors.
The need for training is desperate, and China Partner provides the training free of charge to the local churches. Burklin is asking you to support their work by underwriting the cost of travel for the trainers who travel to the region.
Burklin is also asking you to pray for unity within the Chinese church. If you'd like to assist China Partner's work in China financially, click here.