church planting

  • Micro-Revolution?


    He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” — Matthew 13:31-32

  • Takkyubin Church: Generation to Generation

    ohashi 3 generations

    I was so inspired a few weeks ago visiting my colleague Pastor Hideo Ohashi. He has served faithfully with Asian Access over several decades and his church is a remarkable testament to God’s faithfulness to Japan.

    You’ll see him pictured here with his son and grandson: three generations of pastors! What a powerful image of God’s work from one generation to the next.

  • Camellia Flower and the Gospel

    As Silk and I are saying farewell to our home of the last 4.5 years, we have visited our friends and colleagues in several places. We wish we’d have time to see everyone but the coronavirus has limited our options.

    00399 00690

    One of the places we were able to visit was the sites of the “Hidden Christians” in Japan.

  • Strawberries, Pomegranates and Convenience Stores

    strawberriesOne of the principles in Asian Access is that healthy churches grow. It’s why we spend so much time investing in key leaders’ personal walk with God and their growth in him. Because, when we are deeply embedded with Christ, we are naturally very fruitful. Many of those leaders were on display in Tohoku (Northeast Japan) for a few days at Vision Festa, a gathering of pastors, missionaries and NGO leaders coming together to share God’s vision for Japan. I was deeply touched by them and many pictured in these photos are key partners of Asian Access/Japan. They shared about Strawberry Patch Evangelism. That even small little strawberry plants are quick to reproduce because they shoot stems into the soil nearby and next thing you know you have an entire patch. And, they shared about Pomegranate church planting where a single fruit has hundreds of seeds to spread around and start new fellowships...

  • Why Plant? - Japan Needs YOU!

    japan no church prefectsI’ve been inspired by pastors in Japan when 70 or more gathered in Northern Japan for a movement called Vision Festa. It’s a movement of people with a passion for church planting and I’m eager to share their stories… Those will come later though. For now, why is church planting so important? When so many people are down on the local church these days, why would I believe church planting is so important and why are these leaders coalescing around this fresh vision? Missiologist Peter Wagner once said, “Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven.” Pastor Tim Keller picked up on this theme as well. Check out his post on the same subject, Why Church Planting? Everywhere I have gone, I’ve seen these truths displayed...

  • Hope is Rising

    imageReasons to be Hopeful in Japan

    I’m so happy to be living in Asia, and most specifically here in Tokyo. Japan is known as the “Land of the Rising Sun” and it is this light that I find myself most hopeful these days.

    You see, I’ve been bombarded with messages of inspiration ever since moving here in August! It’s such a...

  • Accelerating Church Planting in Japan

    anaHandley_JoeSilk-Oct2015-500pxJapan (MNN) — If you’re going to dream, dream big. That’s what Asian Access is doing with their 2020 Vision campaign: a million new believers, a thousand new churches and missionaries in Japan in five years. Impossible? Not in God’s economy. In fact, President Joe Handley says God is moving, and it’s possible they could EXCEED the goal. A partner...

  • Church Planting by Networking

    Pastor Hiroshi Kawasaki established new church Yamagata Christian Fellowship through this "church planting by networking"

    by Rev. Hiroshi Kawasaki
    Former Director of JCGI Network

    [Editor's Note: This article was written in 1999, following the first 3-year cycle of church planting in Yamagata. Though much has happened since then, the article gives the reader a good sense of the model of church reproduction by networking.]

    The Lord desires that Japan be evangelized. We are called to witness and to plant as many churches as possible. A healthy church is one that establishes itself while starting other churches.

    Church planting is not an easy task. Many churches in Japan have been involved in church planting, but the results have not always been encouraging. There is, of course, no one method for planting churches, but we must strive to develop the most effective strategy possible.

    Let me introduce a strategy that we have been using in cooperation with Asian Access' Japan Church Growth Institute, testing it in Yamagata Prefecture since 1996. It is called "Church Planting by Networking."

    In order to properly appreciate what has happened in this effort, please remember that compared to the rest of Japan, Yamagata Prefecture has a very slow church growth rate. The largest evangelical fellowship here is our Yamagata Evangelistic Band, churches that fellowship with the Japan Conservative Baptist Association.

    In 1948, Joseph Meeko, missionary with the Conservative Baptist Foreign Missionary Society, and his family, along with Setsuko Suyama, a woman evangelist, began church planting in Yamagata. The work progressed so that in 1995 we had 14 churches, with 900 believers. Five of these churches have banded together to form our church-planting network. 

    Networking is Important

    In order to maintain his fitness, one pastor took up jogging. He soon noticed that the same people were out enjoying jogging at about the same time every morning. Within a few days, he had become acquainted with these people. When he would feel tired and want to skip his exercise that day, he would remember his new friends. This pushed him to keep up his daily exercise. The church-planting network works the same way.

    Many churches have been started without any kind of a network. But it has taken an extraordinary amount of energy, time and sacrifice. However, if several churches band together around a vision to plant churches, a network can be formed. They can cooperate and encourage one another, greatly increasing the possibility of success.

    33Our networking plan had a vision to plant churches, which in turn would plant other churches. Five churches in Yamagata (Shion Christ Church, First Bible Baptist Church of Yamagata, Zao Christ Church, Kaminoyama Bible Baptist Church, and Keisen Christ Church) formed this network in January, 1996, with the goal of starting churches which will in turn start other churches. The Japan Church Growth Institute of Asian Access and Robert Logan, a church planting consultant, joined us in this project. For the Yamagata Project, I, (then the pastor of Zao Christ Church) and Jiro Chida (Pastor of Keisen Christ Church) accepted the responsibility of serving as "Barnabas coaches."

    The Coach ("Barnabas") is Important

    A key to successful church planting by networking is the Barnabas, the one who serves as coach. Through the Barnabas, we are encouraged and trained, and we grow in effectiveness and obedience.

    We Prepared for Networking and Enlisted Churches

    First, we held an explanation meeting in which we shared the vision for starting churches which will start other churches through networking. We decided on a three-year time frame, and recruited interested churches. One of the pastors served as the coordinator. Here is an explanation of the various meetings that took place.

    1. Parent Church Network
    Once a month for over half a year, pastors, missionaries, church officers and interested lay-people gathered for worship, prayer, fellowship, and mutual encouragement. It was important to support our church planting by systematically preparing for the start.

    2. Barnabas Time for Church Planting Pastors (Group Coaching)
    Once a month, the pastors gathered for a coaching time. There was time to share specific problems, encourage and pray for one another. Later this became the basis for the church-planting network.

    3. New Church-Planting Network
    This began several months before the end of the Parent Church Network and continued to meet for two and a half years, every other month. Pastors, missionaries, church leaders and lay-people gathered for worship, prayer, and encouragement. It was a time to develop the vision, dedication and strategy for starting the churches. An important part of that strategy was the starting of cell groups. Also, there was a Barnabas coaching time for the church planters to have more detailed discussions.

    For our project, Asian Access' CM (Church Multiplication) Team provided one missionary family for each of the five churches. These missionaries served under the supervision of the responsible pastors.

    What Has Happened?

    1. Shion Christ Church(Murayama City)
    Pastor Hidemitsu Nawa
    Membership: 50
    This church began in 1990, targeting the North Murayama Rural District (population: 100,000) and became an established church three years later. It joined the network with a goal to plant a church in the next city, Higashine City. In the fall of 1996, the Higashine Chapel was constructed. They are holding English conversation classes and evangelistic Bible studies, and have a Sunday afternoon worship service twice a month.

    2. First Bible Baptist Church of Yamagata City
    Pastor Kanji Torii
    Membership: 193
    This was the first Conservative Baptist Church planted in Yamagata, and is the mother church for all the other Yamagata churches. For this project the church targeted Sagae City, 20 kilometers away. They are holding English conversation classes and evangelistic Bible studies. The summer of 1997 they obtained a building that became the home for the Sagae Christ Church. They first met on Sunday afternoons, but this year moved to Sunday mornings, with the mother church's assistant pastor serving as the leader.

    36a3. Zao Christ Church
    Pastor Hiroshi Kawasaki
    Membership: 145
    This church was started by the First Bible Baptist Church in 1969, and is evangelizing a housing development on the south side of the city. Through the network, it targeted an area south of the present church. They rented an office that served as the missionary's home as well as the meeting place. They are carrying on English conversation classes, Bible studies, children's evangelism and cooking classes. November, 1997 saw a worship service begun that especially included children, and then in February, 1998, an adult worship was added. From August, 1998, they were able to rent a building for the church program, and so began Sunday morning worship services. In April, 1999, Kohitsuji Chapel became an independent church, and the assistant pastor of the mother church was officially called as the pastor.

    4. Kaminoyama Bible Baptist Church
    Pastor Kazutoshi Ito
    Membership: 37
    This was the first church started by the First Bible Baptist Church. The children's nursery program has been their main evangelistic method. The church participated in the network with a goal to start a cell group church in the north section of Kaminoyama City. They are using English conversation classes, evangelistic Bible studies, and cell groups. Two cells have been started that are led by lay leaders, and they are seeking to begin more.

    5. Keisen Christ Church
    Pastor Jiro Chida
    Membership: 267
    This is the largest church of the Japan Conservative Baptist Association, and meets in three locations in Yonezawa, with chapels in Nanyo, and four prefectures (Ibaraki, Chiba, Kanagawa, and Fukushima). The church participated in the network, seeking to pioneer chapels in Nanyo, Nozawa, and Aizu. Regular Sunday services are being held at each location. A pastor has been called to the Nanyo Chapel, and the Nozawa and Aizu Chapels are under lay leadership.

    We Look Forward to More Blessings

    In March, 1999, a celebration was held in Yamagata City to bring the Yamagata Project to a close. We praise God for all He has done these last three years. However, our network goal has been to plant churches which would also plant other churches. Even though each of our churches was able to see new churches started, our original goal of the new churches starting new churches, resulting in grandchild churches, has not yet been realized.

    24aAfter three years, the new churches have not yet reached a place where they are stable and able to begin new works themselves. So the churches that participated in the first Yamagata Project, along with the new churches, have joined together to launch Yamagata Project No. 2, which started in April, 1999 and will finish in March, 2003.

    Shion is targeting Obanazawa City; First Bible Baptist will start a church in a town in the Sagae City area; Pastor Hiroshi Kawasaki, formerly of the Zao Christ Church, begins ministry in Yamagata City; and Keisen will begin outreach in Takahata, a town near Nanyo City.

    We have much for which to thank God when we see what He has done in Yamagata Prefecture, known for being a difficult area in which to plant churches. We pray that in every area of Japan, church-planting networks will spring up, and thus speed God's evangelization of Japan.

    This article first appeared in "Japan Update" Fall, 1999 (#38), published by the Japan Evangelical Association (JEA). Reprinted with permission.


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