Small Beginnings, Big Opportunities

After a very slow start a Japanese language church plant is doing big things.

We launched our entire Japanese language department as a church plant a few years ago. They languished until the pastor moved the congregation into a large house.

Then they popped. In one year they launched three house churches in Honolulu. Three in Tokyo and one in Houston—all services are in Japanese. Since then their goal is to double the number of churches in Japan each year…and they’re doing it.

Their multiplication is amazing, but not the subject of this short essay. These guys have money problems. They collect tithes and then need to figure some way to use the money. With virtually no overhead there is always a surplus of money for ministry.

As a result of too much money and very little bureaucracy they can move fast. So fast that they were in Sendai three days after the big earthquake. And they continue to serve there.

They’ve purchased two trucks and a wrecked house for an operational base. Teams drive to Sendai nearly every weekend. Mostly from Osaka/Kobe and some from Fukuoka. These people travel 450-600 miles each week to bring relief and the gospel. Some will drive all night on Fridays and Sundays in order to spend the entire weekend serving broken people.

And they are bringing the gospel. House churches are nimble, not only in service but in their ability to multiply like rabbits.

We mostly plant larger churches. We’ve been partnering with Japan’s largest church to bring aid and the gospel to Sendai. But this story causes me to take another look at the potential of small beginnings.

I was stuck living in Tokyo’s Narita Airport during and after the earthquake.  I whined a lot and felt sorry for myself. Before I even caught a flight home, these tiny churches had people on the ground in the place where people were hurting the most. I’m definitely giving house churches another long hard look…