Hi Leighton! Great to hear of your interest in Japan. This is tremendous news, because there is great need, as you know, in Japan!
Maybe I can initially address your questions here, and then you can ask follow up questions... I am hoping that others who are in Japan can answer your questions, too, because I am sharing more of a historical perspective; they would have more up-to-date information based upon what's really happening on the ground. Things are in flux for a couple reasons, which I'll share below. Anyway, here goes...
Since 1979, Asian Access has been involved in training Japanese pastors through what is called JCGI Network. When a pastor enters the training program, it's a two-year commitment. About 12 pastors in a region are grouped together in a training network. These networks meet together for 8 sessions over a two-year period and cover 12 different over-arching topics; they meet about every quarter for a week at a time. Participants come from a wide variety of denominations, but all would "major on the majors." All, for example would agree with our Statement of Faith
. Throughout the training process, there are homework assignments and coaching relationships that help participants work through the program. Pastors come together for the sessions, where community develops (and walls between denominations come down because trust is built between participants).
Near the end of the training, participants write up a strategy paper, detailing their church's vision, mission and strategy for growth and hopefully multiplication. At graduation, participants present their strategy papers, but an initial start at implementing their respective strategies has already begun in their churches.
We have found that pastors are transformed when they go through the training together in community -- within a network.
Another thing that sometimes results from this process is that churches begin to get deeper vision for church planting and reproduction. When this occurs in a given region with, say 3-5 churches, A2/Japan will sometimes encourage these pastors to form a new kind of network -- not with a training emphasis, but with a focus on implementing church multiplication. In some of these networks, A2 will offer missionaries (if we have them in the pipeline) as catalysts to be placed at some of these churches. At other times, these pastors may decide to get together and begin whether A2/Japan is ready to facilitate or not. When this happens, we think it's wonderful, because it shows signs of growing beyond us.
Networks are helpful not just for pastoral training, but also to encourage visionary, like-minded pastors to take the plunge and try to plant daughter churches. These church multiplication networks usually run 3-4 years.
Historically speaking, our CPAs are often placed within the context of a church in one of these church multiplication (CM) networks. In the case of tsunami relief, it might not be in an A2 CM network, per se, because ministry has been in response to the disaster. For example, in Miyagi prefecture, which was hit hard by the tsunami, there is a new collaborative network that hopes to plant 100 new churches in the next few years. And A2 wants to place missionaries in this network. At any rate, wherever A2 missionaries are placed, it would be in churches that are evangelistic and aiming at reproduction.
Again, missionaries on the ground can probably answer this question better than I can. As I alluded, the Japan disaster has impacted how we are hoping to do things in the future. I would be happy to be corrected if I'm providing obsolete info or strategy in this matter. The situation is dynamic.
Another factor that has impacted our missionary pre-field situation is our new strategic partnership with SIM USA. If you haven't read about this exciting partnership, please read this article: Strategic partnership just part of larger, collaborative vision
So this strategic partnership has changed how we handle applications. We are in the process of adjusting the site to line up with the new way of processing missionaries. SIM USA is really strong in mobilization, screening and training. The initial inquiry form will go directly to SIM USA rather than Asian Access. So there shouldn't be any references or app materials to download from this site anymore, as SIM USA is handling all the application screening, as well as pre-field training for missionaries heading to Japan. Sorry if this was confusing on the website; we're still in the process of finding these old references and making it align with the new plan.
Sorry if my long response was much more info than you requested; but hopefully it's helpful background info for you.