China Christian Council
According to the Nestorian Tablet unearthed in Xi'an, as early as 636 AD the Christian gospel entered China from Persia. However, because Christianity did not become firmly rooted in the soil of Chinese society and culture, it did not come to be widespread in China, and even came close to vanishing at times. In the 19th century Protestant Christianity entered China from the West, but mission activities were protected by unequal treaties and the churches were controlled by foreign missions. As a result, Christianity was generally looked down upon by Chinese people as a foreign religion. In 1949 there were only approximately 700,000 Protestant Christians in China. In 1950, Chinese Protestant Christians initiated the Three-Self Movement, and through the principles of self-governance, self-sup-port and self-propagation, Chinese Christians set out on an independent road to building the church. During the cultural revolution, from 1966 to 1976, churches were closed. However, churches began to re-open in 1979, and in 1980 the China Christian Council (CCC) was established.
The churches in China have now entered a post-denominational period. Within the CCC, institutional protestant denominations no longer exist and believers worship together. Differences in theological or liturgical background are dealt with according to the principle of mutual respect. Pastoral work of the Chinese churches has been expanded during the last twenty-five years. More than 60,000 churches and meeting places have been opened, 70 percent of which are newly built. Of the more than 26 million Protestant Christians 70 percent live in the rural areas. Lay training, theological formation and Bible distribution are among the top priorities of the CCC. From 1980 to 2014, 70 million Bibles were printed and distributed in China. Social service has developed in recent years. There are currently 22 theological seminaries and Bible schools and hundreds of lay training centres throughout China. The theological institution at the national level, Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, grants M.Th. and M.Div. degrees.
Since the China Christian Council was founded, it works closely together with the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China (TSPM) to achieve the full programme of the ministries of Chinese Christianity. Both of them serve to strengthen contacts with provincial, autonomous regional and directly-administered municipal Christian councils (or church councils)/TSPM, through channels of communication, exchange of experience, study and consultation on issues common to its counterparts at these levels.
CCC/TSPM is advocating theological renewal and sinicization in the Chinese church to build up theological thinking that is biblically grounded, rooted in Chinese culture, that encapsulates the special experience of the Chinese church, and is able to provide a sound explanation of Christian faith in the modern Chinese contexts. CCC/TSPM has eight commissions (Church Administration, Theological Education, Bible Publication, Church Media, Social Service, International Affairs, Women and Youth Ministry, Rural and Ethnic Minority Church Ministry) and seven departments (Theological Education, Media, Domestic Church Ministry, Research, Social Service, Overseas Relations, and Administrative Office).