China’s government has intensified its crackdown on Christianity in recent months, including its enforcement of a law against the conversion of children and teens.
“One of the rules that have always been in their law is that you cannot proselytize or you cannot convert somebody under the age of 18,” Eric Burklin of China Partner told Mission Network News.
Previously, he said, “People were having their children come to church and many churches started what we would call Sunday school classes. They would use that time to teach children Bible verses and teach them Christian songs and so forth.”
Now, though, “any churches have been notified by [China’s] Religious Affairs Bureau heads that you can no longer conduct Sunday school classes in your churches.”
“They even put signage up in the entrance of some churches to indicate that,” Burklin said.
A few weeks ago, Tabitha, Wyatt, and I had the chance to go and visit another local church. One of my brother-in-laws was speaking and there was no way we were going to miss that!
Stepping out of our own church context was refreshing! I loved how the church we visited gave time, during the service, to missionaries they support. We watched a video in which the missionaries gave an update on what has been going on with them. Their video reminded me that missionaries no longer have to feel so alone due to technology. That we can hear from them, stepping out of our local context, and get a picture of what is going on with the global church. I love this! Too often, I think, churches become too inner focused:
“What programs can we provide to bring people here.”
“If we build this THING, people will come to us.”
“If we have this meal, we can invite _________.”
Too often, we pull back into our comfort zones instead of pushing out and embracing others where they are; embracing those in our communities (outside our churches) and even those around the world through missionaries. I am thankful for the glimpse God gave me, in that “missions moment”, of the church abroad. Thankful for those Christians who act as the hands and feet of Christ where I cannot… but can through them.
I also loved the time of worship. I realize this is a personal preference, but I loved hearing hymns sung. I loved being able to sing without paying attention to octave changes and just pay attention to the lyrics. Reminded me that my background, growing up, was void of hymns. How I discovered the richness of them once I was in college. I want my son to love the hymns too (something I’m going to work on).
Tabitha and I have been talking for awhile now about taking a Sunday morning, when we are not serving, and visiting family at their respective churches. Stepping out of our familiar gave me a fresh perspective on the church as a whole, and my church as well. I can’t wait to do it again!
And yeah, my brother-in-law did a great job speaking too.
If you know of any resources on teaching hymns/hymn history to kids OR have any thoughts you’d like to share, drop them in the comments below.
When I first heard that Love Thy Nerd was hosting a convention in Dallas, I was stoked. Thoughts of taking Wyatt and hanging out playing games with others sounds like a blast. But alas, the speaking sessions intertwined with gaming sessions are not conducive to bringing a 10 year old (at least in my mind they are not). I’m thinking we’ll give it a year and give it a try next time around.
Don’t let that stop you from checking out the LTN Conference info/link below:
Join the first-ever conference hosted by Love Thy Nerd! If you want to learn how to love and serve your nerdy neighbors better, you know, like Jesus would, then this is for you. There’s literally no other conference like this. Oh, and we’ll play a bunch of games and nerd out about all kinds of things, so there’s that.
After Disneyland, our trip was a bit more low-key. We had a chance to see my Grandma (who I hadn’t seen in two years), play some Dutch Blitz with my Mom’s family, and even go bowling.
Tab and Wyatt studied California History this past year. So we went and visited Mission San Luis Rey. As someone who holds a degree in History-Political Science, I was super impressed with the mission’s museum.
After touring the museum, we headed outside to walk the grounds.
If you missed Part One, click here
For Part Three, click here
Michael Mendis, writing for Geeks Under Grace, recently wrote a piece titled “Geek Culture and the Church“. As he weaves through the history between the church and geek culture, he touches on something I have always found interesting:
Over the years I have heard numerous stories about Christian geeks who feel that they have to hide their hobbies from fellow saints. I’ve met a well-respected leader in a church who can’t reveal to the rest of his leadership team that he plays Dungeons & Dragons. A gaming missionary I have worked with tells a story about how he once visited a church to talk about gamer culture, and after his presentation, two people came up to him—back-to-back, but independently of one another—to privately confide that they were gamers, and that they were afraid to tell the other people in their church.
On a basic level, I get that we can’t 100% be ourselves at church. Fellow Christians may struggle with things that we do not, making it un-wise to talk about whatever it is in front of them. I get that. But playing video games, to me, is just as normal as watching television or following sports. In all my time, living in the buckle of the Bible Belt for over sixteen years now, I have never felt like I needed to hide the fact that I enjoy playing video games and tabletop games (and I get that my experience may be unique).
I remember approaching my pastor, soon after college graduation, about how I wanted to start a video game ministry. He encouraged me to talk to our youth pastor; who then encouraged me to think outside the box and not go to seminary. “Just do it”, he said like a Nike commercial (it was deeper than that). I’d like to think that my experience here isn’t unique, I was encouraged by my East Texas based church staff, not discouraged from where I felt God leading me in that moment.
As I edge closer to 40, I have learned to not be as worried about others opinions, to enjoy what I like. I have found that there are others out there, in the church, who share my hobbies. I want to encourage you not to live in fear. Be passionate about what you are passionate about. Own your video games, your hunting, and your love for modifying old cars.
Update 5/23/19 – My wife lovingly reminded me that I have encountered instances, at church, where fellow Christians have been less than loving about my hobby. Funny how one forgets such things when not in the moment. As with anything, I think you quickly learn who you can talk to and who you should avoid talking to about nerdy things. Such is life. – Bryan
How many of your Sundays look like this?
You show up, and parking lot attendants greet you. Faithful teachers instruct you. Ushers find a seat for you. A well-practiced worship band leads singing for you. Your pastor preaches a faithful, God-glorifying sermon to you. Childcare workers care for your children. And after all that, you pick up your kids and simply return home.
“But, but, Jesus wants me to live my best life now.” I joke, but deep down I wonder if I sometimes believe it. Great piece from Things We Didn’t Know – about life & missions entitled “This Is America“.
If sermons in your church sound more like self-help, living your best life (“for Jesus” of course), or simply marital and family advice, then you need to be asking yourself some serious questions about what you are being taught. Jesus warns in Mark that many will come to deceive in the name of religion. They will say all the “right” things, dress in all the “right” ways, know the popular prayers and sayings and topics of the times, and they will be leading you astray from the path to Jesus. Guys, Jesus never promised a “better life” here on earth. Following Him is costly, dangerous, painful, lonely, unpopular, counter-cultural. And did I mention that it’s also worth it? *don’t quit yet, I promise I will get there.