1989 Team Vision: “A Thriving Presbytery by 2003”
God brought our MTW team’s original four couples and one single together in 1986 to pray and dream about serving Christ together in Japan. We made a 12-year commitment to God and each other to seek His Kingdom’s advance in Japan. After initial processes of approval, raising support, moving to Japan, two years of language school, etc, our team’s first family moved to East Tokyo in 1989. The team’s first vision/goal was “A Thriving Presbytery by 2003.” Three Japanese pastors church planting in East Tokyo/Chiba from the Presbyterian Church in Japan (PCJ) had invited the PCA to send a church planting
team to partner with them in building a presbytery. Our team’s first missionaries trained and worked under these pastors, and began evangelistic outreach in new church planting target areas in the fall of 1989.
First Outreach, First Prayer Concert, First Believer, First
The first English outreach classes quickly grew from one class with 5 non Christians to about 100 non Christian students in over 20 classes. God used the 20 minute “Bible time” over tea and coffee at the end of class, and weekly Bible studies were started as a next step toward faith. The work was slow, opposition sometimes intense, and discouragement ongoing. We sensed our utter weakness and inability to do anything, if the Spirit did not intervene. We cried out to God in our first monthly 4-hour concert of prayer in mid-1990. The Lord answered our prayers, and we began to see open hearts in more and more Japanese people. Monthly informal pre-worship began Sunday nights in the fall of 199o. We saw a few people slowly move toward faith in Christ. The first believer was taken to and baptized as part of Midoridai Church in December of 1990.
The first church planted by the team, Oyumino Church, formally began weekly worship in April 1992. Thirteen adults were baptized that first year, and worship attendance grew to 35 Japanese, including non Christians and children. This was such an encouragement to our team after years of no visible fruit.
East Tokyo Presbytery Born in 1999
Over the next several years, the team and its ministry grew rapidly. Rapidly for gospel-resistant Japan, that is. More missionaries and Japanese staff joined the team’s ministry in Chiba. Open House, the team’s English outreach ministry, grew to more than 300 non-Christians in more than 80 classes in 5 locations.
The team began church planting in several other towns, and started church-based college ministry at Chiba University in partnership with Midoridai Church.
By God’s grace, in close partnership with the PCJ, the East Tokyo Presbytery was formally organized in 1999. The original 3 church plants meeting in houses with about 65 total worshipers had grown to about 400 worshipers in 12
churches/church plants. Christ was building His Church as promised.
From “Presbytery Planting” to “Church Planting Movement” (CPM)
The team has now started worshiping congregations in 8 locations, including two that no longer exist (one absorbed by mother church, and one church plant that failed; see details below). Our church planting is a partnership of Americans, Japanese, Koreans, and Australians. There are now about 270 worshipers in our team-started churches. Together with the original 3 PCJ churches, and other churches that have joined our presbytery, there are now 14
churches/ church plants with an average of about 650 worshipers in the whole East Tokyo Presbytery. Over these 18 years, God has grown the PCJ from two presbyteries totaling about 1100 worshipers to 6 presbyteries totaling
about 2200 worshipers.
While praising God and rejoicing in what He has done, we long for more! Growing from 65 to 650 worshipers is encouraging, yet so little when we think of the 9 million people in the East Tokyo area, or the 34 million people total in Metro Tokyo. We estimate that over 98% have never opened a Bible, never heard and understood the gospel, nor attended a Christian worship service.
Japan will not be reached by a few more missionaries and Japanese church planters starting a few more churches. One researcher estimates that in 100 years at the current rate of growth, the protestant church in Japan will still be only 1.3% of the population. More of the same will not do.
We must pray and labor toward MULTIPLICATION and MOVEMENT.
MTW’s vision all around the world now is not only to start presbyteries, but to pray and work toward the starting of CHURCH PLANTING MOVEMENTS (CPM). That is, starting healthy churches, that start healthy churches, that start
healthy churches, etc. MULTIPLICATION (not addition) of churches, is the only way Japan will be reached for Christ.
To this end, the team’s first church has “multiplied” from one congregation into three. Oyumino Church is now a multi-site, multi-congregational,
multi-staff church. One church, 3 congregations (and over 50 groups/cells). With 3 Japanese staff moving toward ordination, the goal is one church becoming 3 churches, and the 3 becoming 6 churches. This model is going well, with many struggles too, of course. With our shortage of experienced, ordained missionary and Japanese church planters, this may be a model useful in our other church plants, and throughout Japan.
God is blessing our labor, and there is “Movement” and growth, but not yet “A
MOVEMENT.” Pray with and for us to that end.
Toward a DEEPER Movement: Growing Families
In addition to church planting and college ministry, the team has sought to influence and disciple Japanese families through modeling, training, and translation of solid materials from English. To this end, the team partnered with Japanese parents in starting a hybrid home school/ Christian school in 2006. The school’s name is Covenant Community School International.
Please pray for God’s blessing on our efforts toward a Church Planting Movement that is both deep and wide, growing up many godly families in these churches.
Details of MTW Tokyo/Chiba Team Church Planting
Our team has taken the lead in starting the following churches/ church plants/ congregations over the last 15 years: Oyumino, Chiharadai, Midoridai College, Kokubunjidai, Soga, Makuhari, Honda, and Toke. Soga Church plant failed
when the church planting missionary saw little fruit and returned to their home country. Midoridai College congregation was absorbed by Midoridai, the mother church. Other presbytery churches we partner with (but did not
start) are Midoridai, Anegasaki, Oguradai, Nishi Funabashi,
Kashiwa, Senjyu, Hope Tokyo, and Hope Tsukuba.
(c) 2007 MTW Chiba / Tokyo Team