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Building Churches That Keep Going and Keep Growing

Walking around our home in rural northern Japan, we’ve noticed that houses are not built to last. Many people here build their own homes. Although each has different characteristics, they’re expected to be knocked down after a single generation has passed.

As church leaders, how can we help people to begin sharing their faith with those around them so that, when the missionaries are gone, the church won’t be like those one-generation houses? How can the church not only avoid falling into decay, but continue to grow and thrive?

OMF’s vision is an indigenous church movement where local people reach out with the gospel to those around them. As we plant new churches in Japan and work with local pastors, we need to work hard to communicate that evangelism is a job for the whole church – not just the missionaries.

Our church has fewer than twenty members, ranging from children to retired people, and it can be a challenge to get them to share the gospel. Y (in his 30s) admitted that his colleagues at work don’t know he’s a Christian. S was baptised at another church and hasn’t yet told his parents about his faith. In some ways, it’s much easier to evangelise when you’re a foreign missionary because there’s not the same pressure to fit into society, and everybody expects foreigners to be weird anyway.

Some of our ideas for encouraging lay-member evangelism include preaching and teaching on simple gospel outlines. One group of missionaries is developing a course on evangelism that pastors can pick up and run with their own congregations. We run simple social events, such as eating together at a restaurant, where church members can easily invite friends. We meet with people individually and invite them to pray for three non-Christian friends – that they might come to believe in Jesus.

Japan can be a very difficult society to stand out amongst your peers, which can make sharing the gospel hard. Please pray that we can help to build an indigenous church movement where local Christians are bold in sharing their faith.

By Mark, an OMF Missionary

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