According to David Schack, there are tens of thousand of unregistered
churches in China, most of which carry out their business with little if any
trouble from the local authorities (85). However, in cases when they do occur,
there are periodic attempts by the authorities to force some of these churches
to join registered bodies. Failure to do occasionally resulted in closure; the
destruction of church property; the confiscation (or looting) of church assets
or materials; their fragmenting into much smaller congregations; and even the
jailing of personnel. Although actions taken are couched in legal
justifications, the present relationship between house churches and government
is not governed by law, but it is best described as closer to a metaphorical
social contact based on incomplete or unarticulated understandings of what is
and is not permissible.