We were recently browsing through some old “Japan Harvest” issues, some more than 30 years old. While a lot of the things written about made us cringe, there were also some surprising articles that were encouraging.
An article by Ralph Cox, written in 1978, was especially uplifting. JEMA has a scan of the article, “A ten-year plan of advance”, available as a PDF.
This is one of the parts that stuck out to us most, since it is still so relevant 33 years later:
“We should scrap, especially in rural areas, concepts like: One church one pastor; a church’s first goal is to secure its own land and building; laymen can’t pastor; another church can’t be started until the first church is self-supporting, has its own building, etc. (This latter is the most destructive and detrimental of all and must absolutely be broken if we are to see rapid growth in Japan.)
In Shikoku we have been able to at least alter, if not completely destroy, these concepts so that for the last 9 years we have seen two new churches started per year.”
He had set out ten years earlier to triple the amount of people and to start 14 new church plants. Amazingly, he came really close to those goals. The results are simply staggering, especially in light of what has often been accepted as the status quo in Japan in the last three decades.
JEMA lists some other articles that give a fuller picture of these church-planting efforts.