With millions of new believers, China’s Church has been growing at an astounding rate. Due to the continuously growing Christian population in China, there is a great need for Bibles, pastors and teaching materials. Earlier this year we launched an appeal to help bring Bibles to the people of China and thanks to your support these projects have had extremely encouraging results.
As well as bringing the Word of God to China, there is also a desperate need for a higher standard of teaching and preaching within its churches – especially its Sunday Schools. Currently it is estimated that there are 6,700 believers to one pastor! Since the main focus of these ever-growing churches is to minister to their large congregations, this often means that pastors and church workers face the challenge of finding the time to support and minister to the future generations of the Church.
In recent years, members of the Church in China have voiced their concerns that not enough importance and attention is being placed on youth in the Church and in particular, Sunday School teaching. The Church in China alongside the United Bible Societies (UBS) is recognising that this area needs to be addressed with more support, training and care.
We believe that we should engage our young with the Word of God. One way is through having a good children’s ministry. It is our prayer that with a stronger focus on children’s ministry, we might be able to pass our faith and values to them.
Ng Hwee Hong, UBS Programme Mananger
China has the largest population in the world and with 40 million believers it is hard to imagine that China’s churches will ever face a decline. However, as a BBC report in 2012 outlined, in 30 years time more than a quarter of the Chinese population will be over 65. Alongside China’s overall ageing population, there is still an overwhelming number of young people. According to China’s sixth National Census in 2010, there are 215 million children below the age of 14. Not only is it important to nurture these children through God’s Word and His teachings but there is also a great need to support the 61 million children who are left behind in rural regions, as their parents seek better paying jobs in the cities. Many of these children are brought to church by their Christian relatives while some come from non-believing families who are open to faith.
On average, the size of each Sunday School class ranges from 10 to 50 children between the ages of 3 and 15, usually under the care of only one or two teachers. With such a wide age range, teachers often find themselves struggling to prepare lessons that will engage the children’s interest.
One of the greatest challenges is the wide age range. As we do not have enough teachers, we cannot separate the children into classes.
Ms Lei, Sunday School teacher
UBS has begun to take some steps towards evolving the state of China’s Sunday Schools as they continue to grow in size, by setting up programmes that offer materials for youth engagement with the Bible. Also recognising the important role of Sunday School teachers, the Church in Hunan, with the support of UBS, held summer training over the course of 4 days in You County, Hunan. The training saw a total of 40 teachers from 13 districts gather together for a time of equipping as well as fellowship. The training covered topics such as understanding children’s needs, creative ways of Bible storytelling, and classroom management.
My sense of mission for the ministry is renewed. I see that Sunday School is not a child care service, instead it should be an important pillar of the church ministry.
Hu Shuanghong, 54, Sunday School teacher
Pray for the continued growth of China’s churches as more and more people come to know Christ through His Word. Pray that with the support of UBS, China’s children will grow in their relationship with God as they receive the proper guidance and teaching from their local churches. Pray for the Sunday School teachers that they will receive the support and resources they need to provide for these children.