Article Review: “Changing Worshipping Styles”

Article Review: Rockson Leung, “Changing Worshiping Styles” in Pray for China, February-March Issue, 2010.

“What should a Christian Church in China look like?” This is the main question Leung answers in this article about the evolution and development of worshiping styles throughout mainland China. Leung points out that at the re-opening of mainland churches in the 1970s (a part of the open-door reform) churches lacked the materials to have music at their services. As time has passed, however, coastal cities have acquired not just musical instruments, but also projectors and sound systems. Leung looks at the way churches on the mainland utilize this new equipment, and the prominent influence from overseas churches and organizations in their worship. The author uses the term “cultural adjustment” to emphasize the importance of tolerance for unique worshiping styles. For example, throughout China different ethnic instruments and musical styles represent particular regions and peoples. Because of this diversity, Leung argues, “Church traditions should be allowed to co-exist with new ideas.” By allowing this, subsequent traditions would be able to continue important Chinese traditions, while worshiping and praising God.

Leung describes two particular churches, one in the North, and one in the East, to illustrate his point. The “East Church” had more overseas influence. Leung praises the smooth nature of the service, allowing members to feel at ease. The “North Church” was more traditional with less time for personal reflection and more influence on following worship leaders. This church, however, is looking to incorporate more views into its worship style. Leung compares the development of the Chinese Christian Church to the butterfly and claims, “There is not a style that suits all churches.” Although this is true, the author ends the article by pointing out what should remain consistent between churches. The worship of God “in spirit and truth,” and the use of worship to lead individuals to God “so they can have renewed minds.”

This particular issue of Pray for China contains a thorough discussion of church management styles, as well. It adds particular insight about why Chinese churches have developed, and continue to develop, so differently across the mainland.