Pray for Global Church Leaders. Each Sunday, the ScholarLeaders community of leaders, donors, and friends joins in prayer for one leader and learns about the leader’s work, homeland situation, family, and prayer needs.To join this prayer community and receive brief weekly emails, please subscribe.
The most populous nation in the world, China is home to over 1.4 billion people. Despite some signs of slowing, the Chinese economy has been one of the fastest-growing for decades. Incomes and per capita GDP continue to rise. Today, fewer than 1% of Chinese live in extreme poverty (defined as living on less than US$1.90 a day), compared to the 88% who did so in 1981, shortly after Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms were launched in 1978.
China has also experienced rapid urbanization and educational advancement. In 1980, only 20% of Chinese lived in cities. Today, almost 60% live in urban areas. China has 160 cities with over a million people (compared to ten in the US) and seven cities with populations of over 10 million each. Over the years, China has invested significantly in higher education, especially in the fields of science and technology.
The Church in China has also grown over the past 30 years, and experts project that China will be home to the world’s largest Christian population within the next 15 years. Both registered and unregistered churches have seen increases in attendance. Although Christianity had largely thrived among rural, uneducated groups, much of the Church’s recent growth has been among young, university-educated urban professionals. Church growth has led to a great need for developing pastors, especially those who can relate and minister to intellectuals.
In recent years, the Chinese government has tightened control over religious minorities, detaining at least a million Muslim Uighurs in concentration camps, shutting down and demolishing churches, arresting and surveilling prominent leaders, and censoring religious literature. Much of the opposition stems from the long-held association of Christianity with Western imperialism, underscoring the persisting need for Chinese theological leadership. Despite these challenges, the Chinese Church continues to take up the Great Commission both within and beyond Chinese borders.
Pray for perseverance as Chinese Christians face increasing pressure and, in some places, persecution. Pray for Bible schools, seminaries, and theological leaders who can train a new generation of pastors. Pray for leaders who are called to write books and other resources to help the Church develop biblical, faithful, and culturally relevant approaches that can address the unique challenges facing Chinese society. Pray for Christian leaders in Hong Kong and in the Chinese diaspora as they minister to people with divided perspectives amid ongoing protests.
To learn more about the Church in China, check out this educational feature on ScholarLeader Xue Xiaxia’s personal journey and her vision to reach Chinese intellectuals for Christ. Through Xiaxia’s story, learn about the Gospel’s complex and fascinating history in China, the origins of anti-Christian stereotypes, the difference between a Three-Self church and a house church, and how Chinese Christians are quietly influencing their country for the Kingdom.