Chinese Christian churches, particularly independent house churches or smaller gatherings of Christians, tend to attract wandering ministers.
Wandering ministers are graduates of a seminary or a Bible school who are not shepherding a congregation but who want to pastor a church. When they discover a group of Christians which does not have a well-trained pastor, they offer their services. Often those churches will consider these pastors special blessings from God.
But wandering ministers cause problems for our 316NOW students who are part of these small, independent churches. (In many cases our students have started these churches.)
The problem is not having a better trained person to lead their group. The problem is the wandering ministers have a different understanding of the Scriptures than our students have come to know and believe.
In general, when a wandering minister visits a church, Chinese people would think it unseemly to refuse to allow him an opportunity to speak. “Nonetheless,” our lead contact with our students says, “our students understand that they must provide a clear and gentle explanation to these ministers and to their own congregation regarding why nothing contrary to God’s Word can be taught in their church.”
Confessional Lutherans take to heart the Apostle’s warning, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them” (Romans 16:17).
Motivated by gratitude for God’s grace, 316NOW’s students in China are also learning and applying that principle.