Contradictory actions and statements continue to cloud the stability of Chinese church houses in recent months.
House churches, an unofficial form of religious worship for Christians that are not affiliated with the Chinese government, have maintained an ambiguous role in the lives of the faithful within the world's most populous nation.
However, a missionary in China said recently that this is changing.
Pastor Stephen Lei Chen, founder of Mission in China International (MICI), said last month that house churches have finally received "silent consent" from the central government.
Chen, who was director of the Chinese branch of MICI until it merged with Gospel Operation International, has devoted much of his life to the missionary and ministry work in China and believes he is seeing a change in attitudes.
While speaking with Chinese-American Christians at the New Jersey Missionary Council in April, he said, "As long as the [hidden] churches remain modest, inconspicuous, and neutral towards the government, then they will not be suppressed by the authorities.