How do we view TSPM and House churches, can we cooperate with TSPM?
1. Though there are doctrinal differences, TSPM church is sometimes criticized as the leader of “liberal” theology, we should understand that this is the direction that the leaders of TSPM would like to push but resisted by many local congregations and pastors within their system.
2. The major issue is political. The strategy of communist government is to promote and propagandize that there’s no house church in China, TSPM is the only “Christianity” in China. In recent events hosted by TSPM in US and Tawian and also in WCC conference, when asked about house churches in Mainland China, the official response is “There is no underground churches. There’s only one church in China: the CCC/TSPM.” The shipping company that helped the Bible Exposition in Chicago said on their official website that “it’s a very important political task.”
3. Under the framework of “only one church,” government leverages TSPM to persecute house churches. For example, when Shouwang church is persecuted, pastors from TSPM with policeman paid visit to every single family of Shouwang and persuade them to join TSPM.
4. Please consider that every international cooperation with TSPM will be leveraged by TSPM and party officials to justify their “orthodoxy” and their policy of banning unregistered churches. Be careful, when you think that you can influence them, they are thinking about taking advantage of you. Don’t be naive.
5. Cooperating with TSPM might make your mission report looks fantastic, but also make people confuse and misunderstood, even harm the local churches. I would strongly suggest that please, please stand with the persecuted brothers instead of the state-supported resourceful TSPM churches. It’s not about choosing side, it’s about justice.
How can churches/ministries here help church in China without hurting her?
1. Learn to have a deeper understanding of church-state framework, nature of TSPM and communist party before starting your work.
2. Think about your goal: Are you helping churches in China? Or you want to make your donors appreciate your work? Make your mission report looks great? Or establish your organization/denomination in China? These objectives may not conflict with each other, but if the primary goal is wrong, the whole thing will screw up.
3. Though I want to discourage you from working with TSPM, but if you have to, please only do that in local congregation level and do not involve regional TSPM leaders as well as SARA officers.
4. There are many other ways of doing mission to China here. You can establish scholarship to help leaders from China to study theology, you can invite leaders to US for a short visit so that they can have fellowship with each other and observe/learn from the ministry there, you can help with the book publishing and translating, you can join the ministry of doing evangelism to Chinese students here – they will be the next generation leader of China.
5. Remember China in your prayer and reading.