Two posts on the growth of Christianity in China arrived at the same time. One recommended a new book that documents the meteoric rise of the number of Chinese Christians. The second tempers the reports of growth in China with stories that showed a lack of gospel impact among Christians. Both were hopeful, thank God. The two angles reflect the different ways people measure God’s work.

Friends who have worked in China have echoed these kinds of reports. Some hold up the work in China as a model for movements and excuse the mess. Others raise doubts about the health of the movements and point to the theological and leadership vacuum.

From the description of A Star in the East: The Rise of Christianity in China by Rodney Stark and Xiuhua Wang, recommended by Steve Addison:

Christianity is alive, well, and even on the rise… A Star in the East draws on two major national surveys to sketch a close-up of religion in China. A reliable estimate is that by 2007 there were approximately 60 million Christians in China. If the current rate of growth were to hold until 2030, there would be more Christians in China — about 295 million — than in any other nation on earth. This has significant implications, not just for China but for the greater world order.

And from June Cheng, “Growing pains, great gains,” World, May 30, 2015:

“You will see spiritually hungry people in China, but you always have to ask the question: Do you see really rooted Christians?” Su asked. “The gospel doesn’t just come as an impact … but it must transform your mind, it must change your thinking, change your perspective. … And you realize that it is very weak over here.”

God continues to bring explosive growth to Chinese churches, but He doesn’t wave a magic wand so that growth is without problems.