Theological Education in China
Christianity is growing rapidly in China; currently, there are 30 million Christians in China. Every day six new church buildings are opened. One new church was built to hold 3,000 members and when it opened its doors for the first service, 10,000 people were waiting to worship. Because of the closing of theological seminaries during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, there are only several thousand ordained ministers for more than 50,000 churches. The shortage of pastors and lay leaders with theological and biblical training is a serious problem for the church in China.
Founded in 1980, the China Christian Council (CCC) is the umbrella organization that unites Protestant Chinese churches and Christians. It provides settings for theological education and for the publication of the Bible, hymn books, theological textbooks, and other religious literature. Today, 20 seminaries scattered throughout China provide theological education for candidates to ordained ministry, pastoral leadership, and leadership for local churches. These seminaries are growing very rapidly, sometimes doubling their student body from one year to the next.
Global Ministries walks with the CCC in their work providing pastoral leadership formation all over China through the following:
Guizhou Theological Training Center
Guizhou Theological Training Center is a growing Bible school that the China Christian Council has been supporting since it was founded in 1993. The school serves more than 500 churches in the Guizhou Province. The need for pastors, plus the economic realities in rural Guizhou Province make scholarship aid for theological students a necessity.
Guizhou Theological Training Center increasingly wants to assist the current students in their three-year program, and enhance their theological studies by providing meals for the students. The Center also provides extra support in the form of books and tuition assistance for a majority of students.
The CCC estimates that the nearly 300,000 Christians in Guizhou Province will benefit from having pastors who are better educated.
Shaanxi Bible School
In response to the lack of ministers in China, Shaanxi Bible School was founded in 1988. The school offers two different types of programs. The first is a one-year program for lay leaders. Lay leaders ages range from 18 to 50 and approximately 45 students are enrolled each year. The curriculum includes an introduction to the old and new testament, the life of Jesus, pastoral ministry, hermeneutics, sermons, the spirituality of the Christian, pastoral counseling, church administration, church history, the theology of the bible, and general music and organ.
The second type of program offered is a four-year, college-level seminary with students ranging in age from 18 to 35. In addition to the courses offered for lay leaders, the curriculum includes theology, English, Hebrew history, the geography of the Bible, Christian ethics, philosophy, Chinese literature, modern theology, theological thought, introduction to Christian education, and ecumenical theology. The school aspires to be a seminary, but is currently more equivalent to a junior college.
Books for Seminarians
Global Ministries works with the CCC and many of their seminaries, including the Guizhou Theological Training Center, the Shaanxi Bible School, the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, and the Anhui Seminary located in Heifei. One common funding priority is to provide theological students with Bibles, texts on church history, theology books, bible commentaries, and devotional books.
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By Frances Namoumou, Program Manager, Pacific Conference of Churches Ni sa bula vinaka! Bula is...Read More