Urgency of Equipping China’s Pastors

At the opening of the Jiangsu Pastors’ Training

JIANGSU, China Forty-eight pastors from across the province gathered at Jiangsu Theological Seminary for a 5-day Pastors’ Bible Training in June 2017.

Organised by the Jiangsu Christian Council /TSPM with the support of United Bible Societies (UBS), the training was first launched in 2015 and has since been receiving positive feedback by pastors who attended.

Since China’s open door policy in the early 1980s, the number of Chinese Christians has been increasing at a faster rate than it could produce pastors to shepherd them. According to official statistics, on a national average, there is currently one ordained pastor to 6700 believers.

To help alleviate this problem, United Bible Societies (UBS) has been actively partnering the Church to equip more pastors and preachers. One of the ways is by organizing Bible Training for pastors, most of whom have few opportunities for further equipping since graduating from the seminaries.

At the opening ceremony were Rev Zhang Keyun, the Chairman of Jiangsu CC/TSPM, his Vice-Chairman, Rev Shili, Bishop John Chew, UBS Global Council Member, Mr Kua Wee Seng, Director of UBS China Partnership (CP), and UBS CP Program Manager, Ms Foo Jock Lian.

Vision to Equip Pastors
Touted as a model province in developing and training pastoral workers, Rev Zhang, also Jiangsu Theological Seminary’s President, said, “By God’s grace, we have trained 500 theological students in 5 years and offer seminary graduates a refresher course within 5 years of their graduation. Now, we aim to equip another 500 pastors within 5 years.” To this end, he appreciated UBS critical support towards theological training and upgrading of Jiangsu’s pastoral workers.

Bishop John Chew affirmed Jiangsu CC/TSPM’s hard work in building church infrastructure and raising workers. He encouraged them to focus on developing talents and improving the quality of pastoral workers.

Held annually, the Bible training imparts sound Bible interpretation skills so that pastors teach Scripture accurately, building up believers’ faith to combat subversive heretical influences. Indeed, the Chinese government reported on its website that there are 14 officially named cult groups, with 12 related to Christianity.

Dr Peng Kuo-Wei, Bible Society of Taiwan’s Editor-in-Chief and Translation Consultant for the Chinese Union Study Bible Series.

Trainers helming this year’s course were Dr Peng Kuo-Wei, Bible Society of Taiwan’s Editor-in-Chief and Translation Consultant for the Chinese Union Study Bible Series, and Rev John Tan, the former Chairman of Singapore Chinese Speaking Church Council.

Focusing on Galatians, participants appreciated Dr Peng’s content knowledge, usage of original languages, rigorous teaching method and hermeneutics. Pastor Yao Wenqiang, 49, who left the seminary 20 years ago, said, “By going back to the original languages, Dr Peng’s session is very useful for defense against cult groups! I’ve benefitted greatly.”

Pastor Li Yuanxiong, 43, admired Dr Peng’s incisive teaching style. “I am reminded that we should not preach to please the listeners at the expense of expressing truth accurately.”

Rev Tan taught from the Book of Ruth. All agreed that his classes were comprehensive, with illustrations and humour amply used to highlight main points. Hong Qiaoyun, 51, who pastors a church of 10,000 members, said, “I was ministered by Rev Tan’s session. Through him, I’m reminded again of the God who provides all our needs.”

(3rd from left) Rev John Tan, the former Chairman of Singapore Chinese Speaking Church Council praying for the pastors.

“Pastors are feeling the pressure as congregants become more tech-savvy and knowledgable. So it’s important that pastors upgrade themselves! I’m very appreciative of this opportunity.” shared Pastor Xie Yueliang, 46.

Because of the speakers’ different styles, participants enjoyed a refreshing eye opening experience. With newfound perspectives in Biblical interpretation, the pastors were now better equipped to teach and preach God’s Word with confidence.

During the closing ceremony, one representative participant expressed heartfelt thanks to UBS and Bible Society of Taiwan for the gift of two commentaries from the CU Study Bible Series (Galatians and Ruth) to every participant. “These 2 books are truly precious! We hope Jiangsu CC/TSPM and UBS will continue to organize annual courses as spiritual refreshment for pastors.”

Pray for pastors in China that they will daily be refreshed by the Word of God and that there will be more equipping opportunities for them.

Story: Zhang Liqing, translation by Angela Teo
Edited: Cynthia Oh
Photo:  UBS CP
2017 © United Bible Societies China Partnership