Does the Chinese Church Have Denominations?

QUESTION FROM A FRIEND: Does the Chinese church have denominations?

No, at least in the sense most people in the West would think of denominations. Strictly speaking, you won’t find a network of PCA, Vineyard, Methodist, or Baptist churches. Theologically speaking, local churches will tend towards being more or less baptistic, reformed, charasmatic, etc.

Churches are generally divided up into networks (which of course functionally act like denominations). These networks may be linked geographically (a city, province, region), stem from a historical figure (e.g. Watchman Nee), or a theological tradition.

Since China is a collectivistic culture, group identification and loyalty are integral to Chinese ecclesiology.

Here are some related resources:

Constructing China’s Jerusalem: Christians, Power, and Place in Contemporary Wenzhou (Nanlai Cao)

Authority in a Collectivistic Church: Identifying Concerns for a Chinese Ecclesiology (Jackson Wu)

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