As our family returns to Japan, it’s important to reflect on the work that we plan to do upon our return. The vision may morph some once we’ve arrived, but it’s good to bring a vision with us as we go, so we know the kinds of things to be preparing for and praying about.
Let me begin by saying, as I have said before, that our primary focus is on making disciples. That means we’re more concerned with spiritual growth than numerical growth. We’re not simply looking to get more people to show up on Sundays. Rather, we want to encourage a church community where all members are serving each other and naturally reproducing in their own lives. Imagine how great an impact a church full of disciples can have for the Kingdom!
That said, there is a lot of work that we want to do both in Matsudo and in other areas of the work in Japan. Here are a few things Sara and I have been talking about:
- Teaching Ministry at Matsudo
Since we only gather at the building once a week (usually), it is very important that the sermon each week is prepared to help nourish the members there. I want to make sure my sermon preparation is above par, both from the Biblical study side, and the Japanese side. Preparing my thoughts and making sure I communicate them well is key to this being an effective service. Also, in agreement with the church, I want to look at ways to structure our Sunday gatherings to be the most effective spiritually.
- Service To The Church
Like any congregation, the members at Matsudo will have various life events that are best experienced in community. Be it a wedding, a death, a relationship problem, or a birthday, we want to be part of the lives of the people at Matsudo, serving however we can. Just being available can be one of the most useful services we can render.
We want to get together with members outside of our Sunday worship regularly to help encourage spiritual growth. Especially for new Christians, it is important that older Christians play an active role in helping them mature and be prepared for faithful Christian service. This is part of what discipleship is all about.
- Community Involvement
As with communities anywhere, communities in Japan have needs and we want to see the Matsudo church help serve those needs. Though the church is very small and has few resources, we trust that God is able to supply every need in order to be fruitful for his Kingdom. This may involve something simple like a parenting group to help encourage young parents, or similar groups for marriage or even the elderly. This one will take more shape on the field, but we’re interested in seeing what things we can do to help serve our community in the name of Christ.
- Relational Evangelism
Due to the many obstacles to faith in Japan, it can be difficult to reach people with the gospel. One of the most important tools to do so is relationships. By that, we mean authentic, loving relationships that show genuine concern for people regardless of whether they are Christians or not. We want people to know we’re not just in it to convert them. Our goal is to build honest relationships, using our interactions to point people to Jesus.
- Youth Ministry
We have found that one of the most important works you can do for long-term discipleship in Japan is to plant seeds in the hearts of young people. As our children become older, we will have more opportunities to reach out to the youth in our communities with the message of the Kingdom through the relationships they build. We want to see those relationships become opportunities to glorify God. We’d love to see young people in our home regularly, while also hosting frequent youth events at the church building.
- Japan School of Evangelism
During our previous time in Japan, I had the pleasure of teaching a short session for JSE (Japan School of Evangelism). JSE serves Japan by offering college-level Bible courses for anyone interested in taking them, aimed at equipping the church in Japan for Kingdom service. I hope to be more involved in this great program over the coming years.
- Media Ministry
As someone with a lot of experience in online media, I believe there is a place for a ministry reaching out to people through videos and other media forms. Like people in the U.S., many in Japan spend a lot of time on their phones and tablets (especially during the morning commute on the train). Having videos and other relevant media may provide a way to reach a large audience of various ages.
- Encouraging Other Ministers
Ministering in Japan can be a lonely work, perhaps even more so for Japanese ministers than foreigners like us. We want to be encouraging and uplifting to the other ministers and their families to whatever extent we can. I hope to spend time with nearby ministers on a regular basis, praying and studying scripture together, while also participating in scheduled preacher’s meetings and retreats. We would love to have our entire family fellowship with other ministry families regularly, as well.
As you can see, there is a lot of work to do! We are eager to do it, and excited to get this important Kingdom service on the field. If this sounds like a work you would be interested to partner with us in, please check out our support page here, and no matter what, please lift our family and this work up in your prayers!