THE DICHOTOMY OF CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA

I was at a meeting in the States, about six years ago - a conference at which most of the delegates were Oneness Pentecostals. We were in a casual conversation, and I was musing about our "Tub-tism," a few months before. Toward the end one pastor asked me if I'd baptized these new Saints in Jesus' Name. the conversation got me to thinking about one of the biggest problems in answering the question at hand: suppose there was a number that would answer that question? How many would be disqualified because they didn't measure up to one of our rules?

For most Chinese the path to Christ is not a "Four Spiritual Laws" path. Most don't have the benefit of trained, ordained clergy to guide them, or even of a pastor to mentor and disciple them, after they hear the Gospel.

China is as much a fertile ground for the truth of the Gospel as it is for cults like Falun Gong; which is why it is CRITICAL that the Church in the so-called "free world" starts to have a sense of urgency about reaching the people here with the Gospel. And that may mean we will have to abandon some of the stuff that has us arguing amongst ourselves, and start thinking of evangelism strategies that will reach people in this part of the world, where they are.

Five years ago I wrote a brief white paper entitled, " The Dichotomy of Christianity in China." Admittedly, I know so much more now than I did then, and the paper is badly in need on revising and expanding; but I think by way of giving you a basic understanding of the challenges facing the church in China, today, I believe it is a good start.

CHRISTIANS IN CHINA: IS THE COUNTRY IN SPIRITUAL CRISIS?

More people go to church on Sunday in China than in the whole of Europe.

Many of China's churches are overflowing, as the number of Christians in the country multiplies. In the past, repression drove people to convert - is the cause now rampant capitalism? From BBC News

HOW MANY CHRISTIANS ARE THERE IN CHINA?

This question has many answers, depending on who you are listening to. To date, many people consider the "First Things" white paper by Rodney Stark, Byron Johnson, and Carson Mencken, to be one of the definitive articles on the subject. Paul hathaway's " AsiaHarvest" website agrees with that article, in number; but carries it a step further by providing province-by-province summary, in support of the numbers.

First Things
Counting China's Christians
Rodney Stark, Byron Johnson, and Carson Mencken
May 2011
(Subscription required)

Summary by the Hong Kong Institute:
This article by specialists in the question of size of religious populations gives new figures for Chinese christians. Instead of the oft-mentioned numbers of 130 million or even 200 million total followers, they suggest a more conservative figure of 70 million in 2011. The findings are based on survey information compiled with the assistance of Peking University бн Indeed, American visitors to leading Chinese universities are struck by the Christian climate that often prevails in contrast even with most American church-supported campuses. Despite many years of dramatic religious persecution, we now have empirical evidence of the resiliency of Christianity in China and the remarkable trajectory of growth it continues to experience.

How Many Christians are there in China? ( The Essay)
by Paul Hattaway
( Province-by-province statistics)

How many Christians in China?
by OMF International

Summary: For some three decades OMF International has been researching the numbers of believers in China. We have resisted the urge to publicize large figures which have no documented basis. For some years, in publications such as Pray for China and China's Christian Millions we have given the tentative and incomplete evidence pointing to more than 50 million Protestant believers in China, but we have not accepted the much higher figures sometimes of over 100 million, which other overseas groups or individuals have publicized-usually on hearsay or without any real supporting evidence.

It is therefore highly significant that China Daily should publish an open article giving a figure by an eminent Mainland researcher of "more than 50 million" house-church believers. The official figure of 20-21 million believers in TSPM churches does not normally include children under 18 years old, nor the many enquirers who have not yet been baptized, so is a conservative figure. The total figure of 70 million Protestants is, therefore, also a conservative figure. Roman Catholic sources generally state there are some 10-15 million Catholics (both "patriotic" and "underground") in China. The overall Christian community in China is therefore conservatively at least 80 million. This is an astonishing growth from 4 million in 1949 (3 million Catholic and 1 million Protestant).