China’s Underground Church is Growing Bolder

Something interesting is happening with the underground church in China. After attending several not-so-secret meetings this week, it seems clear that the church is growing both in size and in its defiance to government regulations.

For the last four years, the church has had to go deeper underground to escape government monitoring. In 2019, China launched a concentrated attack on unregistered church meetings and these attacks have forced illegal fellowships to meet in smaller numbers. The majority of unregistered house church meetings were also meeting on irregular weekdays instead of Sunday, because Sunday meetings were easier for the government to anticipate and monitor.

However, last Sunday, I was able to attend several churches in China and it was clear that many of them have started to break the self-imposed rules on attendance restrictions. “A few years ago, we never allowed any group to get bigger than ten people,” Pastor Andrew said (not his real name). “As soon as we had more than ten people, we would break into two groups. Then three. Then four.”

“What happened?” I asked after seeing at least 300 people in attendance at the Sunday morning service.

“We couldn’t stop the people from coming,” he said laughing. “Many of them would rather be arrested than to stop meeting in slightly larger fellowships.”

The venue for the meeting was also a risk – the church was meeting in a hotel conference room. “We have paid for the entire floor,” Pastor Andrew said, indicating that the only people in the room were Christian hotel staff and believers.

Since the economic fall of China, there are many international hotels that sit empty. This has created a unique situation for the church in China.

In the evening we drove to a more remote area, outside the city, full of migrant workers. The church, a small tin-framed building sitting outside a construction site, was full of young people, but had the throwback feeling of house church meetings from more than 20 years ago. There were paper charts and scriptures written on the wall, small mats on the floor, shoulder to shoulder attendees cramped into a small space, and everyone wearing simple rural clothing, soiled from working in the dust all day. As I approached the meeting place, hiding in the dark of night, I could hear the singing long before I walked through the door. It was obvious they were not trying to hide the fact that they were having a meeting. All of the windows in the meeting hall were open and the lights from the meeting lit the dark courtyard outside.

Anyone walking by would have been able to hear singing, preaching, and loud cries of repentance.

Even though the last five years have been some of the most intense persecution against Christians in China, it is clear that the church is not just surviving – it is thriving.


Dr. Eugene Bach is a known trouble-maker with an active imagination and sinful past. He has a PhD, but is not a real doctor, so please do not call for him during a medical emergency on an airplane when someone is having a heart attack. Eugene started working for Back to Jerusalem in the year 2000 after a backroom deal involving Chinese spies, the NRA, Swiss bankers, and a small group of Apostolic Christians that only baptize in Jesus’ name. He spends most of his time in closed countries attempting to topple governments by proclaiming the name of Jesus and not taking showers. From time-to-time he pretends to be a writer. He is not good at it, but everyone around him tries to humor him.

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