Late this last summer in one of China’s major cities, a small group of Chinese pastors’ wives gathered together from the unregistered church (or “house church”) for a time of training and support. Most of the women didn’t know each other, nonetheless, they shared their common burdens with one another:

“We get little to no rest; even if we do slow down on a rare occasion, we feel guilty.”

“Our to-do list is endless. And if we don’t do it all and do it well, we create new problems for ourselves.”

“Our congregation has unrealistic expectations of our family. Sometimes I have my own unrealistic expectations of myself, my children, and my husband.”

As the communications director for China Partnership, I hear daily about efforts to train and equip the mostly male pastorate of a rising church movement called Grace to City, which focuses on gospel renewal among China’s unregistered churches. The needs of the Chinese pastorate are myriad, and they include one often overlooked but very important group of people: pastors’ wives like these.

Although China has a government-sanctioned church called the Three Self Church, the vast majority of Chinese Christians belong to unregistered church communities that often meet in rented apartments, storefronts, or hotel conference rooms. When Westerners think of these “house churches,” they often assume the biggest challenge is the political environment. While the legal issues surrounding the unregistered church are often tense and at times overwhelming, the ministry struggles are much more mundane and common. Like small church pastors in the States, Chinese pastors and their families experience significant ...

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