Two-thirds of Chinese Christians attend a house church.
My host touched the ‘down’ button in the elevator of a high-rise apartment. Its door opened and we stepped out into underground parking. We maneuvered around cars and crates in the musty and dark basement. Then, to my surprise, I saw through a door a red cross with children’s toys scattered about. The pastor welcomed us into his ‘house church,’ a small room seating 70 adorned by a small pulpit.
Later that day across the city—in China, there are more than 40 cities with populations over five million—we visited another ‘house church.’ On the side of a commercial building was a cross, publicly announcing the church’s presence. Arriving on the sixth floor, we entered an amazing 7,000 square foot complex fitted with multiple offices and a 600-seat auditorium.
Saturday night in another city, my translator punched in floor five. We were greeted and shown a spacious sanctuary seating 350, its platform lit with colored floodlights as the worship band prepared.
Just down a hall, I poked my head into its seminary facility.
Sunday, again in a high-rise commercial building, I spoke to two congregations, who met in a 120-seating worship center, surrounded by Sunday School rooms.
Monday, I rode a high-speed train to yet another city where a young couple took me to a commercial high rise. Meeting with a dozen of their senior staff, they told me that in 2016 the government shut down their former rental space in preparation for the meeting of the G20. The police rationale was they wanted all unregistered (aka ‘house churches’) churches closed so as to prevent protest. A year later, this same church was up and running in a new rental space with multiple staff and a worship …