How Do We Reach the Next Generation?
Japan is a vibrant and exciting place full of creative people. With less than one percent of Japan’s population being Christian, most young people have had little or no contact with the church.
How can we build relationships with the next generation who are interested in music, dance, comic books, anime and video games?
Spiritual messages regularly appear in these media, which seem to be influencing young people more effectively than traditional religion. This presents new hurdles but also fresh opportunities for sharing Christ with them.
OMF worker Louis explains more:
“Many of the Japanese young people enjoy sports, mainly baseball and soccer. They like hip-hop dance, to gather together in groups to dance and practice together. They like reading manga, the Japanese comics which are a very big industry here. And mobile phones – they love to keep connected with each other.
Individualism versus Collectivism in Japan
Being an individual is very important for Japanese youth because it allows them to showcase their uniqueness, their gifts and their abilities.
Yet while showing all these things they also like to be accepted by society.
Relationships are very important to the young people; when you have a relationship they can trust you, and once there’s trust they can open up their hearts to you. Without a doubt, the best way to attract Japanese young people to Christ is to build relationships with them.
They need relationships and people who care for them, who can pray for them and who love them without any condition. This then allows us to share the gospel easily, open our hearts to them, pray for them and hear what their cries are.”
Dance Is an Outlet for Japanese Youth
The OMF LINK team in Japan builds friendships with young people and through friendship introduces them to Christ. They also disciple and encourage believers to grow in their faith so that they can be faithful witnesses to the gospel.
One LINK worker explains more about how their ministry works:
“We use street dance in our ministry. It’s a way to get involved in Japanese youth culture because they love dance and they love music. So we can use it to help build relationships as a part of our youth ministry.
When we go to the street and dance, at least one person stops because there are crazy people dancing!
In Japanese culture older people are very traditional and reserved and the youth don’t like that. They don’t want to break the rules, but they want to express themselves and street dance is a chance for them to do this.
In Japanese culture everybody is connected, there is a sense of family. And when you’re dancing it can be boring if you do it by yourself; it’s good to dance in a group.
Many young people in Japan today face difficult challenges. The OMF LINK team has a heart to reach those who are unemployed or underemployed, those who have been rejected by family and/or friends and find themselves on the fringes of society or even those who shut themselves away (hikkikomori).
They are looking for more people to join them, especially in dance and sports ministry. The pressures of Japanese life on young people create very real social needs to which they seek to bring the love of Christ.