Today was the first time I worshipped in a church plant at its opening service. The service was in Mandarin. An enthusiastic translator sat next to me hurriedly turning every word into something I could understand. When we stood to sing, I watched the beautiful Chinese calligraphy play across a video screen in front. I couldn’t read a word of it, but I could feel the passion of the room. The translator told me what they were singing. Every song called out “Send me!” Every song talked about loving a lost world. It was worship of a God who cared for people who were far away. This is a church plant which is nesting at my home church and worshipping on Sunday afternoons. It felt remarkably like the future of the church.
An animated preacher, with whom I have had coffee, stood up to speak. His texts were from Mathew 28 and Acts 1 – Jesus commission to go to a lost world and the charge to love people in Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. At one point he spoke eloquently in Chinese, and then I heard the words, “Jim Miller.” Then he said something else, and everyone burst out laughing. He went on, and the laughing continued. I turned to the translator.
“What did he say?”
“He said your wife is Chinese, so you like Chinese people. He said your mother-in-law is here for worship, so we are going to consider you half-Chinese.” I laughed, admittedly late.
This is the future of the church. The language which is spoken should be for the people who are doing the best job reaching a lost world. The rest of us should stand on the sidelines in support. The songs they will be singing will be refined by the church’s mission. That room resonated with one thought – we have a purpose. And that purpose will give that community a future.
Next they commissioned a kneeling pastor to lead the church.
Then something amazing happened. They only announced one tangible ministry. They didn’t say anything about programs. There were no classes or groups. In fact, they even said that the church wasn’t really there for that. The ministry they announced was that they were already planning their next church plant in a city 20 minutes further east down the freeway. This brand new church named only one clear ministry goal – start another church. I have no doubt that they will.
Well, I have to admit there is one program that comes with any healthy, God-fearing, missional Chinese church, and that is a big meal, which followed immediately. Thank you, Jesus.
For the new family of faith sharing our roof, I am most grateful. May God bless you in abundance, so that you will have everything you need all the time, so that you may abound in good works (2 Cor. 9:8).