Xindian is a city district anchoring the southern metropolitan area of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. One-third of the population of Taiwan resides in and around the greater Taipei area, and its outskirts are one of the most rapidly growing areas of Taiwan as people move out of less-developed areas to seek new jobs and opportunities. The Dapinglin area of Xindian is currently being developed to anticipate these new arrivals, with new businesses opening, new subway lines underway to further connect the area to Taipei City itself, and new high-rise condos going up everywhere. Thousands of people are expected to be moving into this area over the next several years.
Xindian’s existing churches currently do not reach all of its communities; in particular the northeast corner of Xindian, home to over 36,000 people, has a number of temples but no effective church presence. Recognizing that people moving into a new area will be more willing to try new things, we believe the time is ripe to plant a church in this growing community which can reach both the longtime residents and those newcomers as well.
The Church in Taiwan faces a number of obstacles, and growth in the very small percentage of believers has been more or less flat for many decades. Many churches are only able to barely maintain their attendance from generation to generation, while others have slowly dwindled. With this new opportunity to plant a church, we want to emphasize discipleship and a missional focus from the beginning, believing that a group of strong and growing believers will lead to a strong and growing local church.
To this end we are adopting a church-planting strategy that develops intentionally but naturally out of relationships with people in the community who become believers and are discipled. We will not purchase our own facility, let an organizational budget dictate our activities, or allow the majority of the spiritual work to be dumped onto one “professional Christian” pastor. Instead, we want to follow a pattern of Gathering, Growing, and Going, with the hope that, with God’s blessing, this will be the beginning of not just a new church but a reproducing church movement who can reach groups and subcultures of people that missionaries coming in from the outside can’t.
In the middle of this largely unreached area of Dapinglin there is a popular and well-designed community center, where large rooms can be reserved for a variety of activities. Buying land or renting building space for a church in the greater Taipei area is extremely expensive, so we want to remove this obstacle to church planting and multiplication by starting a church group in this community center. This will be affordable for a small gathering of believers over the long term and also lets us be highly visible and accessible to the community; many nonbelievers are reluctant to visit a “house of religion” of a different faith tradition, but have proved very willing to attend events and activities in the community center, even knowing we are Christians.
Currently we are engaged in a variety of outreach activities to build gospel relationships with people in our community. These range from volunteering at a nearby elementary school, to a weekly children’s church-style meeting at the community center, to English conversation sessions at the local HQ of a Taiwan-based global tech company. Over these few years we have seen local people turn from skeptical to interested in the gospel, and hope to bring a few families together to form the core of a self-sustaining church which meets in the community center.
This strategic church-planting opportunity is being pursued by a diverse, multi-organizational team, headed by Nelson Yang. Nelson is a Taiwanese national and former TEAM Taiwan office manager who has long felt the burden to reach out to his local community with the good news of Christ by starting a church near his home. Nelson’s wife Ann is a professional translator of Christian literature, and a prayer warrior with a heart for giving. (Click here to read Nelson’s story.)
The Yang family, TEAM missionary Joseph Swanson, and a number of other helpers both American and Taiwanese are working in cooperation on this effort, bringing their own unique resources and abilities to the task.
Anyone with experience in teaching English, music, or anything which can help us make long-term connections with a broader range of people in our community is welcome to contact us and get more information about this chance to bring church to those who would never seek it. May the Lord grow His kingdom through this strategic opportunity!