The wife of a detained Chinese Christian pastor says a group of rights lawyers and churchgoers were attacked by hired thugs on Christmas Eve at her house in central China.

Wang Fengrui said dozens of thugs kicked and punched members of the group on Tuesday when they attempted to leave the house in Henan province.

The lawyers traveled to Nanle County to seek meetings with Pastor Zhang Shaojie, who was detained more than a month ago over a land dispute and has been denied access to lawyers.

Churchgoers had hoped to hold a prayer meeting to rally support for Zhang, but were blocked by authorities.

Supporters say the county government reneged on an agreement to provide the congregation with land for a building, leaving them without a place of worship.