China house church

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This article is about the private house churches in China. For Chinese churches outside of China, see Chinese church.

House churches in China (Chinese: 中国家庭教会; pinyin: Zhōngguó jiātíng jiàohuì, also known as 地下教会 dìxià jiàohuì and 地下天国 dìxià tiānguó) are a religious movement of unregistered assemblies of Christians in the People's Republic of China, which operate independently of the government-run Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and China Christian Council (CCC) for Protestant groups and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CCPA) and the Chinese Catholic Bishops Council (CCBC) for Catholics. They are also known as the "Underground" Church or the "Unofficial" Church. They are called "house churches" because, as they are not officially registered organizations, they cannot independently own property, and hence they meet in private houses.

The Chinese house church movement developed after 1949 as a result of the Communist government policy which requires the registration of all religious organizations. This registration policy requires churches to become part of the TSPM/CCC set-up, which may involve interference in the church's internal affairs either by government officials or by TSPM/CCC officials, who are approved by the Communist Party of China's United Front Work Department. During the Cultural Revolution of 1966–76 all Christian worship was forced underground.

Since the 1990s there have been cases of increasing official tolerance in various regions of house churches. Most observers believe that the opposition of house churches by government officials arises less from an ideological opposition to religion and support of atheism, and more out of fear of potential disturbances to orderly society from mass mobilization of believers, similar to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and mass protests of Falun Gong members in Beijing in 1999.[citation needed]

Protestant house churches are indigenous to mainland China and are usually not under foreign control. This assertion of strictly native support is important in the PRC political discourse, since Christian churches and missionaries have sometimes historically been seen as tools of imperialism. In addition, at least with the Protestant churches there is no central church hierarchy, a fact that is commonly cited as a reason why house churches are seen as less threatening and subject to less overt opposition by the Communist officials.

Chinese house churches have indigenous forms of worship and usually use their own songs. One collection of Chinese house church worship songs, Jiānán Shīxuăn ("Songs from Canaan"), has been made into a book, with audio of some of the songs available.

Chinese Roman Catholic house churches generally recognize the authority of the Pope in contrast to the official Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association where such recognition is not possible because papal supremacy is not only doctrinal but also because he heads the Vatican, an external nation State. The role of Catholic house churches is a major complication in the official diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China.

In the past two decades, a number of house church networks have developed, headquartered mainly in Henan and Zhejiang provinces. These networks have sent missionaries all over the country and have even started sending them abroad to neighboring states.[1]

Christianity in China[edit]

Official data of 2010 reported 23 million Christians.[2][3] A survey published in 2010 reported 33 million Christians, of which 30 million are Protestants and 3 million Catholics.[4] In 2011 the Pew Research Center estimated 67 million Christians.[5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aikman, David (2003-10-25). Jesus in Beijing. Regnery Publishing. ISBN 0-89526-128-6. 
  2. ^ Survey: Over 23 million Christians in China.
  3. ^ Survey: Over 23 million Christians in China.
  4. ^ 2010 Chinese Spiritual Life Survey conducted by Dr. Yang Fenggang, Purdue University’s Center on Religion and Chinese Society. Statistics published in: Katharina Wenzel-Teuber, David Strait. People’s Republic of China: Religions and Churches Statistical Overview 2011. Religions & Christianity in Today's China, Vol. II, 2012, No. 3, pp. 29-54, ISSN 2192-9289.
  5. ^ The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: "Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population - Spotlight on China" December 19, 2011
  6. ^ The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: "Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population - Appendix C: Methodology for China" December 19, 2011
  7. ^ "Good shots", Beijing or bust (blog), Google, 16 January 2006 .

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