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Tighter restrictions for churches in southern china

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Recent reports indicate that restrictions on unregistered churches in Guangdong, China are tightening. Some churches have been asked to move out of their venues (commercial buildings), on the grounds that they are not registered religious venues. Some of these churches have congregations of 100-300 members.


The increasing restrictions are making some landlords unwilling to rent property to unregistered churches to avoid any potential troubles with the authorities. Some churches have reached out to human right lawyers for help, which may result in elevated conflicts between the churches and the authorities.


A local contact of Open Doors said the authorities invited him for a “tea meeting” and subtly advised him to limit his congregation size to less than 50 members. For more than a decade now, a congregation size of about 100 (or even more in some regions) has generally been considered “acceptable” in China. At least one of the local pastors plans to split the church into several new churches so that each does not exceed 50 believers. He is also considering renting residential apartments for the smaller church group meetings.


Some local contacts observed that the religious restrictions in Guangdong have been tightening since the “Occupy Central Movement” in Hong Kong in 2014. The Chinese government views the “Occupy Central Movement” as a political movement related to churches in Hong Kong. Over the past several decades, churches in Guangdong and Hong Kong have been closely related and the former has received extensive support from the latter.


Occasional reports also continue to surface of individual cases of official interference with Christian activities in other regions of China. Though each case is cause for concern, the number of cases represents a comparatively small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of churches in China. Please pray that local churches in Guangdong will have wisdom and courage to interact with local authorities, and that churches throughout China will continue to witness for Christ and grow in maturity amidst the uncertainty surrounding a potential increase in religious restrictions.



The requirement that congregations be limited to 50 members could actually promote the spread of the gospel if congregations that go over this number divide in two to remain in compliance with the law. It will mean that the number of churches will actually increase and the smaller size will require that more of the members be actually involved in carrying out the work of the church. We need to pray regularly for the Chinese Christians, that they will find ways to promote the gospel in spite of government opposition. We should pray for the government officials enforcing these laws, that they will come to see that Christianity is true and not a threat to the country.

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Hi Theo, this (to me anyway) is not a surprising move by China. Unfortunately, they've been experiencing the onset of some very dangerous cults over the last few decades (like The Church of Almighty God / aka Eastern Lightning). Not only do they pose spiritual dangers to the Chinese people, but physical ones as well. These cults underscore what one of my missionary friends has told me is going on there, namely, a great lack of proper Biblical instruction. This results in the formation of these cults who make a lot of what they believe up as they go along, not knowing any better. Many of these groups are formed by or around the false teachers that are so prevalent in China these days, so they are actually "personality" cults (like the ones we've experienced here over the years, i.e. Jim Jones/David Koresh).


The people of China apparently have much more access to the word of God than they used to have, but they are in desperate need of teachers to properly instruct their churches and pastors.


Yours in Christ,


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Christianity has always had trouble in Asia because the beliefs are so opposite. It's hard to hold onto status and power that you obtained through your religion when a new religion basically makes us equal in God's eyes. At least they aren't killing Christians or outright banning Christianity. They are just making unregistered churches illegal unless their congregation is under fifty. Like, theophilus said, if they can take advantage of this as an excuse to spread Christianity, it could work in their benefit.

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The Chinese government can try as hard as they can to stop the spreading of the Gospel but history will repeat itself. What Rome couldn't do, China can't do. Persecution will achieve the opposite of what it is intended to. I just pray that the Christians in China will find ways to continue worshipping God together, even online.

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