Why so few born-again Christians in Japan …part three

We are saved by grace through faith … yes?

Therefore we should continue to serve in ministry by faith through grace … yes?

 

There are a lot of problems and obstructions against ministry works when there are too much excessive expectations and demands for academic credits and paper credentials.

Educations is important but the foundations and principles of what are being taught and passed on need to be based on grace and faith in Jesus Christ and being born-again –

 

(Titus 3:4-7)

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

 

Japan was the first nation in Asia to achieved “industrialized status”.

Japan as a nation still has the highest literacy rate in Asia, ahead of Seoul and Singapore.

Japan is a knowledge-based society. Observe the kind of demands and expectations for information and details for every products and services.

What do all these show us about the expected Japanese approach to the Gospel?

 

“More information please”

“Please show credentials and credits about what you said and preached”

“Is this person properly ordained and approved to preach and teach?”

“Is this person qualified to pray for me?”

 

Missionaries and Christian ministers in Japan, do the above statements and messages sounds too familiar?

Many are shock and stunned and a lot had left the field, down with severe head-aches and depression how to deal with all these pervasive demands.

Japan is one country where missionary can die of depression, no joke!

 

This is not a problem of no education but excessive demands for credentials.

 

Foreign missions outside Japan still do not have a full grasp of what kind of “cultural shock” until they themselves settled in and dismissal attitude from those who are not fully-informed make life miserable for foreign missionaries stationed inside Japan.

 

This is it …

More information please …

More credentials and credits please …

 

This never ending demand for credentials and credibility can drive people crazy.

 

For example, did Jesus rise from the dead? Yes?

What more credentials and credibility do people want?

 

Do not be surprised the majority of church leaders serving in local Japanese churches actually have higher academics then their counter-parts in the rest of Asia. Means to say the average Japanese pastor have higher paper qualifications then pastors from other parts of Asia. Not comparing to U.S and Europe.

But higher academics and credentials do not translate to better and more effective ministries!

 

Demands for higher paper qualifications have the tendency to discourage broad-base lay ministry.

Grassroots involvements are hampered by excessive demands for credentials and paper qualifications.

 

China on the other hand had shot fall of pastors and leaders with recognized academics in theology but their explosion in % of Christianity is noted. Of course there are lots of issues with doctrines but in terms of lay ministry involvement they are very active. Furthermore China being a communist regime, going for theological education inside mainland China is “asking for unwanted attention”.

Christianity in South Korea has had exponential growth not from ministers of higher academics but otherwise. The largest congregation in Seoul has the largest pool of lay ministers from house-wives without degrees in theology, compared to mega churches of the same vision and mission. Yes they are educated in certain fields but they may not necessary have a degree in theology.

Singapore is another nation with high growth rate in Christianity, and does the world know a lot of senior pastors do not have a basic degree in theology from a recognized Bible college? Most of them not ordained but appointed and a lot of them do not even have a “Diploma in Theology”. Active broad-base lay ministries have been key engines for church growth.

 

We are saved by grace through faith …

Therefore we should continue to serve in ministry by faith through grace …

 

Having a degree in theology does not make you a church-planter.

NO!

What makes you a preacher, church-planter and an effective minister of Jesus Christ?

 

(Ephesians 4:7-12)

But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

 

(1 Corinthians 12:4-7)

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

 

(Galatians 3:2-6)

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

 

By the grace of God, by faith in Christ, by the gift of the Holy Spirit every Christian is a minister

 

I repeat – Having a degree in theology does not make you a church-planter!

The good things about theological training is to enhance and sharpens what you have within you. But whatever is not there cannot be enhanced and multiplied!

Means to say if you are not already spiritually gifted to be a preacher and church-planter, having achieved a degree in theology is still not going to make you a preacher.

 

We received our spiritual gifts by faith through grace in Jesus Christ

 

Now let’s talk about “accountable” which had been a main call for credentials.

With regards to field works on the ground there is a clear difference between accountability and credentials

 

Accountability is better than credentials

 

When we are accountable, we are accountable to people we minister to.

Paper qualification and credentials can made you accountable and answer to your school and denominations but not the people your reach out to in the field.

Therefore do not be surprised there are a lot of church leaders with very high credentials but do not know how to preach and teach faith to their congregation!

Do not be surprised more than half the congregation are falling asleep and don’t understand a thing the pastor was preaching straight from their notes from his theological seminary.

 

The preaching of the word of God is to impart faith

Therefore we need to preach by faith though grace

 

When we are saved by grace thorough faith and we serve by faith through grace, we impart grace and faith to the people we are accountable to.

Most important in Christian ministry we are accountable first and foremost to Jesus the founder of our faith.

 

(2 Corinthians 4:5)

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

 

We want to reach Japan with the Gospel, we need to release lay ministers and encourage lay ministries.

 

Revival in Japan need to starts from the grassroots up.

 

Japan is a society accustomed to top-down organization, and this way of management is not effective for Gospel ministry.

It is an obvious thing Japan’s Christianity had been stagnant for way too long due to limited and restricted lay ministries, and lack of encouragement and allowances for more involvement from the grassroots.

 

We are saved by grace through faith …

Therefore we serve in ministry by faith through grace …

By the grace of God, by faith in Christ, by the gift of the Holy Spirit every Christian is a minister

 

(Luke 10:2) – And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

(ルカの福音書 10:2 )

その時、イエスは彼らに、次のような注意をお与えになりました。「収穫はたくさんあるのに、働く人があまりにも少ないのです。ですから、収穫の責任者である主に、もっと大ぜいの働き手を送ってくださるように願いなさい。

 

Japan is ripe for harvest …

God is ready to send His revival …

But where are the ministers?

 

In-His-Service

David Z

Why so few born-again Christians in Japan …part two

(Matthew 28:18-20)

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Whenever the subject of Gospel outreach to the nations is mentioned, Japan has a long standing position of being “hard to reach”, “hard ground”. But history has it; there was a time Christian populations were thriving.

In Asia, there is another people group that shared a similar spiritual history with Japan with regards to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Both nations went through the same pattern of Christian popularity, and later subjected to state persecution and blood-shed.

Between Tibet and Japan, Christianity among the Tibetans faced near extinction which was devastating for the Gospel, whereas Japan stood at less than 1% for a long time.

I have reason to believe why God brought me from Tibet to Japan.

I have learned the Gospel message to the Tibetans will not be complete apart from the Japanese. Means to say Gospel messengers to Japan need to understand what is happening in Tibet and like-wise Gospel messengers to Tibet need to understand what is happening in Japan.

What is the basis of my point?

 

Between Tibet and Japan, they share a common spiritual root

 

Missionaries involved in church-planting, in particular within the 10-40 windows should understand that there are very real “spiritual entities” holding back the locals in their own beliefs. These are the very reasons why certain places are highly resistant against the Gospel message.

 

(2 Corinthians 4:3-4) – And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

 

Church-planting is spiritual, and therefore we need to engage “spiritual entities” first and foremost through prayers and fasting.

Outside Japan, a lot of foreigners are praying for Japan, but inside Japan most of Japanese churches are not praying!

In my previous immediate post “Why so few born-again Christians in Japan”, I already point out a factual situation on the ground where most of local churches isolated themselves from engaging in the fulfillment of the Great Commission, therefore there have been very limited prayers among the locals themselves for revival in the land!

Every revival and every church-planting need to be started through prayers and God answering specific prayers –

 

(Acts 4:23-31)

23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?

26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

 

This is how we need to pray for revival, Gospel outreach and church-plating.

I first visited Lhasa, Central Tibet back in 2004. And in those days every foreign teams I was in contact with had the same concern and question “are there any known Christian up there on the root top of the world? Any known established fellowship and church there?”

We already know the answer.

Today the situation on the ground is very different and we know God is moving and hearts and minds are open, disciples are made and leaders are raised among the Tibetans.

Why such breakthrough in Tibet but not yet in Japan?

 

Prayers, more prayers, non-stop prayers, persistent prayers …

 

Prayers are acts of faith …

The Japanese Christians themselves need to get involves in this.

I mentioned earlier

 

Between Tibet and Japan, they share a common spiritual root

 

Local Japanese know that but most of foreign missionaries missed it or are not informed.

The current 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso has long standing close relationship with key spiritual leaders of Japan.

Both sides of the spiritual orders have access to the same Sanskrit among other texts.

Both nations are in the same season of passing their spiritual leadership to the next.

But we know who is the best and ultimate spiritual leader –

 

(John 14:6) –  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

We need the Japanese churches to carry this message to their own Japanese people.

 

(2 Corinthians 4:5-6)

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

 

(コリント人への手紙Ⅱ 4:5-6)

5 私たちは、自分のことを宣伝しているのではありません。主であるキリストイエスを宣べ伝えているのです。私たちはただ、イエスが私たちのために成し遂げてくださったことを知ったので、あなたがたに仕える者となっただけです。 6 闇の中に光が輝け」と言われた神様が、私たちに、イエスキリストの御顔に輝いている、神の栄光の輝きを理解させてくださったからです。

 

We want revival and we went the people to open their hearts and minds to Jesus, but we need to pray. Because if we don’t, God cannot answer what we don’t ask for!

Foreigners praying are not enough; the Japanese Christians need to do it!

Do not be surprise if God brings about a duo revival between these two nations.

 

In-His-Service

David Z