What attracts people of Chinese culture to Church? 

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What attracts people of Chinese culture to Church?  image

Sydney Anglican churches have a higher proportion of members of Asian descent than the general population, according to the Bishop of Georges River, Peter Lin.

Bishop Lin has spoken about Chinese churches as part of the ABC’s celebration of 200 years of Chinese immigration to Australia.

The first Chinese migrant, Mak Sai Ying, arrived in Sydney from Guangzhou Province in 1818 and purchased land at Parramatta as a free settler.

There are now more than a million people living in Australia who have Chinese ancestry.

Bishop Lin appeared on Radio National’s Religion and Ethics Report, hosted by Andrew West.

“I've been involved in Chinese churches for more than 30 years and have seen numbers significantly increase over those years,” he said. “Certainly, for Anglican churches, we've seen the number of Chinese increase between the last two censuses to the point that it is probably the fastest growing demographic in the Anglican Church at the moment, across Sydney.

"The Christian faith is very community based" 

“There's something like 15 per cent of the population across the Sydney basin who are of Chinese descent and in Anglican churches, in terms of total numbers, they make up about 18 per cent.”

What attracts people of Chinese culture to Church? 

Asked by reporter Hong Jiang about what attracted Chinese people to church, Bishop Lin said it was not necessarily being Anglican but because of the ways in which the Christian faith marries with Chinese culture.

“That's not what changes people or what makes them believe in Jesus,” he explained. “But it's certainly something that opens a door for them. The Christian faith is very community-based and uses a lot of language of family, and for Chinese people, it's all about family. Chinese are in a “we” culture, not an “I” culture. That's very much what the Christian church is, too.”

Bishop Lin said personal invitations to church services and events, especially involving food, is culturally appropriate for outreach.

“It's just people saying, ‘Hey, can I talk to you about what I believe? Hey, would you like to come to church with me?’” he said.

“Food is very important, so we would invite them to meals where they would meet other Christian people. I don't think they become Christians just because they're Chinese or just because a lot of the values of Chinese are similar. In the end, they become Christians because they're presented with this person called Jesus and they're presented with the Bible and they still have to say, ‘Is that true? Is that real?’

"Culture is a great thing for opening the door" 

“Culture is a great thing for opening the door. But in the end, people are confronted with Jesus and many, many, many thousands of them have said,’ Yes, I'm going to believe this and follow Jesus’.”