On 14th November, 2018, the Fuwan Lecture Room of Fujian Theological Seminary invited Rev. Shan Weixiang, Vice-President of China Christian Council and the chief editor of Tianfeng to come and give a lecture on 'Challenges and Solutions to the Shepherding of the Church in China'. Rev. Yue Qinghua, President of Fujian Theological Seminary extended warm welcome to Rev. Shan’s visit.
The lecture given by Rev. Shan began with the citation of an array of statistics reflecting that China is witnessing a slowdown in the growth of Christian community and church members are dominated by aging people. In respond to this, the church in China should take practical action to combat the challenges in pastoral care. He then proposed solutions in three aspects. First of all, the indigenization and contextualization of Christianity in China is of great necessity to be put on the agenda. Developing Christianity in Chinese context can not only help shape the image of the church in China as part of the ecumenical church, but also help reconstruct theological thinking with the language and thought pattern accepted by Chinese people through absorbing the essence from Chinese culture.
Secondly, efforts should be made in confronting with the challenges from the urbanization. There is a higher demand in the urban pastoral care when an increasing number of migrant workers flock into cities. In addition to the growing pressure on the shepherding, other problems like the inadequate pastoral care, deficient governance and stagnant growth in rural churches are also very worrying. Rev. Shan said that it is advisable to clarify the work of pastoral care and governance, enhance volunteers’ capability to serve and strengthen church members’ church value as well as their sense of belonging.
Thirdly, it is necessary to alleviate the pressure from the aging church. At present, as the main group of church members, senior people still encounter a few dilemmas. For example, the elderly are liable to feel isolated when the church begins to preach vigor and vitality; senior people who lose their partners also tend to be pessimistic; some even hold prejudice on pastoral care and other ministries; others pay little attention to worship and service. According to these, Rev. Shan suggested that church ministry should center around the spiritual pastoral care on the elderly; it is of vital importance to focus on the proper guidance to the church members; care and love are delivered to the elderly so that they can feel loved, valued and concerned; churches encourage young people to get involved in the ministry of serving the elderly responding to the grace of God.
Based upon personal pastoral experience, Rev. Shan utilized witty remarks to elaborate the problems and challenges facing the Christianity in China, and make the audience aware of the importance of the ministry of serving the elderly. It is the duty that each and every church should take on and also the lesson for us to learn in order to build wholesome churches.