China (MNN) — China is expecting more than 100 million farmers to
move from the countryside to the city by the end of this decade.
The anticipated influx of people will
likely put the social security nets under a huge strain. The rapid urbanization not only puts pressure
on the government to respond to needs, but also the Church.
China Partner President Erik Burklin
describes the shift: "It's actually more like almost 50/50, which I never
knew before. I always thought that it
was 70% in the country and
30% living in the cities, but now it's closer to 50/50."
Over the last few years, China Partner has been holding
extensive training sessions because the growth of the Gospel is outpacing
resources, says Burklin. "With the increase of individuals coming to the big cities,
there's obviously a tremendous need of ministry for these individuals."
There's an estimated 3700 ordained and assistant pastors
ministering to roughly 40 million believers–that's one pastor for every 10,000
single ministry is equipped to handle the shift alone, which is the beauty of
what's happening, explains Burklin. "It
can be a challenge, but at the same time it can be a way of God orchestrating ministry
to come to the bigger cities with these Christians coming into the cities as
China Partner conducted its first Training Seminar in 1991 at the
seminary in Nanjing, China. The second seminar followed a year later in Guangzhou,
and over 50 more have been held since. Those involved with China
Partner have trained nearly 5,000 current and future Chinese Christian leaders with
needed ministry insights and methods.
That pattern continues today. Their most recent trip saw 60 lay pastors in
the local church of Jingzhou City and 70 lay pastors from the Chibi church and
surrounding areas participating. "In
our training, we try to equip these lay pastors to manage those who come to
their churches: how to disciple them, how to grow them up in their faith. But
then we also encourage them at the same time to be preaching evangelistically in
their churches,"explains Burklin.
Burklin notes their partnership with
Joyce Lok, a staff member at ECC church in Hong Kong, in the training of lay
pastors in Chibi on principles of pastoral care. "Our desire has been to shift more of
our focus of ministry 'By the Chinese, For the Chinese,'" notes Burklin, adding
that it succeeded, due in part to the close relationship with the church leadership
China Partner also distributed 130
Pastor Packs–or 1,690 theological study books–at the training sessions in
order to make Christ known among those who have not yet heard the Gospel. While the doors are open now, Burklin acknowledges
that won't always be the case. "Our
whole long-term goal and long-term vision has been that we equip enough so that
eventually, we can almost work ourselves out of a job, so that the Chinese are
taking care of their own Chinese people, in their own language, understanding
their own culture."