Japanese church planting faces unique challenges

By January 2, 2007

Japan (MNN) — Japan broke two postwar taboos last week, as its Parliament voted to bring patriotism back into the classroom and to expand the status and mission of its military forces. These are efforts to rebuild national pride and end six decades of constitutionally enforced pacifism.

It’s unclear what this will mean for the church, in Japan, but many are hoping it teaches them to be bold in their faith.

Director of Missionary Personnel in Japan for Asian Access is Peter Thomson. He says that pacifism affects the church. “Many churches have a very ‘survival’ mentality. Our main goal is not to decrease, but what we want to see is a very thriving mentality and that are excited to grow.”

That’s why Asian Access is excited about a church growth model. Thomson says, “A typical Japanese church is about 35 people. And, when we talk about church planting and reaching a new community, when you’re talking about a church of about 35 people it’s overwhelming. So, what we do is bring churches together that have the desire to plant a church, into church planting networks.”

That’s building unity between four and five churches in an area. Thomson says this is great self-sustaining model. “When we began doing church planting this way, what we wanted to see was a model that wouldn’t be dependant upon missionaries, wouldn’t be dependent on western missions, but would be dependent only on the love for Christ and a desire to share the Gospel. So, what began in 1996 with just one network, has now grown to 10 networks.”

Thomson also expects 10 new networks within the next two years. With the evangelical Christian population at less than one-percent, the need is great.

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