In the last 12 years, we observed that when most people say that they love Japan, they meant they love their experiences of Japan. People move to global cities to worship wealth, education, power and prestige.
Cities are worship centers– where people worship things (mostly good things) that are not God as gods. And one of the reasons it’s been hard for many to see Japan as a missions field is that many still see Japan as a tourist destination. The world’s eyes are set on the upcoming Olympics in 2020, but the church has been setting her eyes on Japan for over 150 years. And today, the nations are coming to us in global cities. What a privilege it is that we can make disciples of the nations even here in Tokyo (Mtt. 28).
Japan remains to be on the top 10 of the most populous countries of the world.
Tokyo is world’s most populous city. And Setagaya-ku (where we are church planting) is Tokyo’s most populous ward with approx. 890, 927.
Challenges of Church Planting in A Risk Averse Culture.
About 73 % of Japanese describe themselves as risk-averse (according to a 2008 study of 51 countries). Even Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (in his speech at Silicon Valley) is noted as lamenting over the fact that Japanese are risk-averse and unlikely to start new ventures. Harvard University sociologist, Mary Brinton (co-author of “A Japan That Turns Its Back on Risk“), also said that “a play-it-safe mentality” is a daily reality of life here. Having lived here for the last 12 years, I can attest that Japanese are very meticulous in their planning. And because they take time to eliminate all chances of failure they also end up executing them very well. Nevertheless, Brinton said that in this risk averse culture there’s “a tendency to focus more on potential downsides rather than on opportunities.”
Even in the sporting world, avoiding risk is not uncommon according to Ken Oikawa, a Japanese professor of kinesiology at Tokyo Gakugei University. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, less than 4 % of working-age Japanese intend to start a business within three years (this was according to a survey in 2011). If this mentality has not changed, there is a massive challenge for indigenous church planters being raised to take up leadership.
Please pray for the Theological Seminaries and established local churches in Japan to raise up Japanese Church Planters who will embrace risk by faith in the sovereignty of God. With God, who can raise the dead, all things are possible. Global cities like Tokyo are ripe with Gospel opportunities!
Pray also for church plant funds for unreached people groups around the world, and our church as well (we have a gift-matching opportunity).