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Church Planting resources arranged by topic
Unique people group resources and places in need of churches
I. Historical Perspective
A. Country of origin – Japanese immigrants have a long history more
than 100 years. They first came to Hawaii and moved to the mainland later. They
have now up to 5 generations.
B. Language(s) – Japanese & English
C. Religious background – Shintoism & Buddhism are the
mainstream of the religions in Japan more than 1,000 years until the end of
Shogun era. Since the Black Ship from the USA came to Japan to force to open
the door of the trading in 1853, Japan started to receive many cultural and
religious interests. However, the military government received the power to
control the nation, the Emperor became an ultimate authority over the nation
until the end of the WWII. After the corruption of the Emperor’s era, many new
religions came out of the hopeless country including Christianity, which used
to be prohibited and persecuted as the religion of the enemy. Those new
religions were mostly the stream of Buddhism and Shintoism. The Christian
population in Japan is still less than 0.7% with about 7,000 churches across
the nation. Southern Baptist churches are about 300 in Japan.
D. Southern Baptist Work – There was not a Southern Baptist church in
the United States until after World War II, when the first Southern Baptist
congregation was born in Gardena (LA), California in 1968. This church has two
separate congregations: one English-speaking and the other Japanese-speaking.
The second Southern Baptist congregation was born in San Francisco in 1974,
currently known as the Nineteenth Avenue Japanese Baptist Church. Both of these
churches were born out of the need for Japanese-speaking worship services and
Bible studies. According to Pastor Mike Yokoy from Portland Oregon currently,
there are about 15 Japanese-speaking pastors and three Japanese-speaking Korean
pastors in the US for all the Japanese churches. There are also a number of
Japanese Bible Study Ministries that minister to the Japanese communities
throughout North America in twenty five states . The most urgent task for
Japanese church planting may be to find and equip ministers and train them
through Basic Church Planting Conference designed by NAMB. We also have already
had several young dedicated ministers who graduated evangelical seminaries and
Bible colleges in the United States. One of the great potentials of raising new
ministers is the new Christians who were born again here as they were studying
in colleges and universities. Some of those who were saved through our local
churches will come back to the United States for further education of the
ministry before entering into the ministry. They are the future ministers and
leaders of Japanese churches in the US.
E. Sub-cultures – The Japanese people who came after
WWII are now called "first generation" people, as the immigrants who
came before the WWII are called Japanese-Americans. There are few fellowships
and relationships between the two parties. There is also a big margin of
cultural and sociological differences between Japanese nationals. These
differences include students and business people visiting from Japan and
the American-born, English-speaking Japanese. The new trend is the families of
inter-cultural marriages. The increase in numbers is difficult to calculate
from census reports since they have American family names.
F. Past challenges – The second generation has found it difficult to
open their hearts to Christianity because of the segregation they experienced
in interment camps during World War II.
G. Past Immigration Patterns – The history of the Japanese in the
United States dates back more than 100 years. The immigrants first identified
as Japanese were found in Hawaii, where they worked on sugar plantations. Some
of those immigrants later moved from Hawaii to the mainland to find new work.
They moved especially to California, Washington and Oregon.
II. Current/Future Challenges
A. Population – Japanese Americans are about 800,000. However, more
than 300,000 Japanese nationals are always coming and going back home. Those
are mostly business people and students. They do not stay in the US
after their purpose is fulfilled.
B. Present Immigration Patterns – The most Japanese populated area is
Hawaii. The second is California. The third is
New York state. Hawaiian-Japanese, Southern Baptist churches have the longest
ministry history in the USA, which began before WWII. They also hold
the largest number of Japanese churches. New immigrants are
scattered across the nation, but especially west of the Rocky
C. Evangelism – The most effective method of evangelism is to witness
to Japanese immigrants in the context of their culture and language. As
Japanese students come to the United States, they are being reached by
Christians and are being saved. The number of students being saved in the
United States is larger than those who are being saved in Japan. That is why we
must train the young people while they are here. Collegiate mMinistries
directed toward Japanese students is an effective evangelism strategy.
1. The Japanese population in
US is dropping, while others are growing. From 1999 to 2000, there was 6%
decrease among the Japanese population.
2. Focusing on campus to find
and minister to Japanese is very effective. Invite them to your
home. Offer your hospitality to build friendships and trust in order
to share the gospel.
3. Offer conversational English
classes for newcomers. This is an excellent ministry that churches can use as
an evangelistic opportunity.
D. Church Planting – Currently, there are about 15 Japanese-speaking
pastors in the United States for all the Japanese churches. The most urgent
task for Japanese church planting may be to find and equip
ministers, training them through Southern Baptist seminaries. Japanese
Southern Baptists continue to plant more churches in the Japanese-populated
cities, including those in Canada. They are working with existing
church leaders to stress the importance of cell groups, which one day may
become self-supporting congregations.
E. Family Life
1. Education – Japanese churches have difficulty in finding
future ministers and church planters. Local churches are encouraged
to raise young ministers-to-be within their own churches. This is
because most Japanese graduate students studying
in seminary are linked to a local church in Japan. These churches
sponsor the education of these students.
2. Occupation – New immigrants and families don’t establish Japanese
towns and communities like immigrants before WWII. They are mostly scattered
among Anglo neighborhoods. They need to be reached through different
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