On Wednesday morning, I had my first opportunity to meet with the MTW team serving in Nagoya. The team is made of of 5 families - of which two are made up of single ladies. Lots of children, too. Wayne and Amy Newsome have 5 children (Sam, Josh, Katlyn, Mary Grace, and Sarah), Peter and Diane have 2 children (a boy and a girl), and Tom and Teresa Wilson have a little boy.
The team members obviously love one another, and most of them have been together for a long time. Together, they've helped to plant 2 churches in Nagoya, begin a Christian school that now serves over 100 Japanese and American students (elementary and Jr. High), and have started a seminary that presently has an enrollment of 13. Last Sunday, one of the church plants celebrated its 10th anniversary. It's about the same age (and size) of Grace Fellowship. I'm looking forward to seeing the various facets of the ministry in Nagoya next week.
Yesterday afternoon, we had our first conference worship service. The worship leader is bi-lingual (American and Japanese). He led us in longs like "How Great is Our God" and "You Never Let Go". We'd sing each verse twice - once in Japanese and once in English. The participants here really represent a large cross section of denominations, missions agencies, and national pastors and church planters. It has been beautiful to worship together with such a diverse group.
Dan Iverson was the first speaker of the evening. Dan is the country directory for MTW-Japan, and he introduced CPI's core values. They are:
1. Kingdom Advancement through Multiplication
2. A Commitment to Church Planting
3. Gospel-Centered Ministry
4. Confidence that the Kingdom will Advance
The second speaker of the evening was Dr. Hideo Ohashi who argued for a Multi-site, multi-campus model of church planting. He advocated a model very similar to what we have studied and considered for the future at Grace Fellowship (and at other churches in the Piedmont Triad Presbytery). Dr. Ohashi encouraged us to stop thinking about the church as a "place" that attracts people via church programs and instead think about the church as an organism that pushes out and spreads out over the city. He suggested that in this culture (Japan) the way to grow bigger and have a greater influence may be to think about getting smaller at individual sites...thinking about covering the city with smaller sites instead of trying to attract everyone to a single large site. Obviously, I'm leaving out a lot.
If you're using this blog to keep up with what's happening here, I need to apologize. Things are BUSY. I'm only able to carve out a few minutes at a time to journal - which will probably make this seem a bit fragmented. Sorry!
I've gotta run. The next session is about to begin!