English Articles

A Case Study of the International VIP Club : A Mission Movement Among Japanese Businessmen

Mitsuo Fukuda : Rethinking Authentic Christianity Network「RAC Network」

 

E. Meaning and Future of this Movement

1. Meaning of this Movement: New field with New Workers

This movement awakens our interest in a new mission field which has been neglected for years. Before the collapse of kaisha-kyo there had been little room to approach businessmen with the Gospel due to the strong binding force of the kaisha. The kaisha squeezed out all of a businessman's energy, so that he had no physical and psychological power left for going to church on Sunday. Therefore, the Christian church had to focus her mission on housewives and children. However, as the Christian businessmen's movement emerged, Japanese Christians began to notice that a new evangelistic field had been uncovered. This is the first time in Japanese mission history that businessmen have become a primary mission force.

 

They are not licensed preachers, but testify to the power of the Gospel by their living testimonies. They are not professional missionaries, but plant new cell-type meetings in urban mission frontiers. They are not mission strategists with Ph.D.s, but they develop effective ministries and train new leaders. This lay workers' movement includes the momentum of a theological reformation where missionary work is reconciled with secular vocations.

 

The challenge to see mission work and secular vocations monistically, as God's integrated work is not only for businessmen. It is a challenge to every believer, including pastors and missionaries. In the midst of daily life, all believers are called to testify to the power, love, wisdom, sincerity, diligence, morality, building of good character, and popularity, which are all gifts from God. Christian faith is not only a mental stabilizer (Takeuchi, 1995:86-92), but also God's empowerment of the whole life of believers. They are expected to glorify God with their faithful living. In this sense, all believers are priests of God. This is not a new theological statement. However we should recall this biblical idea and apply it in our historical context.

 

2. Future of the Movement: Authority Structure and Functional Practices

Conflict between the existing churches and this mission movement must be avoided for the sake of the healthy extension of the Kingdom of God. The former should welcome and support the latter because it is filling a vacuum among the mission tasks in Japan. The latter should respect and keep cooperative relationships with the former, because although their missions are different, both missions were given by the same God. He is the God of peace, who is working in the place where people love each other. In fact, if both divine communities support each other mutually, an even greater harvest will be expected. The existing churches may have more businessmen who are saved in urban areas, while the mission movement may have greater resources from the existing churches for their spiritual growth.

 

Envy and authoritarianism have choked new mission movements. Arrogance and subjectivism have confused and split churches. Acts 8:4-25 is a good reference for reflecting upon church authority and lay worker movements. Philip, a lay evangelist, did marvelous mission work in Samaria. But he didn't ignore the authority of the Jerusalem church and asked Jerusalem to send Peter and John to accredit his ministry in Samaria. This includes at least two lessons for both church pastors and movement leaders. One is that church pastors should not disturb the work of the Holy Spirit who used movement leaders. Instead they need to cover and protect the new converts by their God-given authority and pastoral work. The other is that movement leaders should not ignore God's order where the church pastors have the greater authority. Instead they need to humbly recognize their sphere of ministry.

 

To rely on the Holy Spirit, who guides church pastors to use their authority in a modest manner, and who gives movement leaders humility in the performance of their functional ministries, is the key for continual growth of this movement.

 

Notes

  1. Nuber discusses the psychological burdens of people in the modern era(see Nuber, 1995).
  2. A personal interview with Mr. Andrew Kazuo Ichimura, Business &Professional Ministry director of The Navigators, Japan, at The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo on March 10, 1999.
  3. A personal interview with Mr. Kazuo Kanamori, general manager of Fuji Bank Global Credit Division II, at the head office of the Fuji Bank Limited in Tokyo on March 10, 1999.

 

References Cited

Masamura, Toshiyuki
1995 Himitsu to Haji: Nihonshakai no Komyunikeishon Kozo (Secrets and Shame: Communication Structure of the Japanese Society). Tokyo, Keiso Shobo.

 

Nakamura, Tadashi
1998 Kazoku no Yukue: Atarashii Kazokushakaigaku (The Direction of the Family: New Family Sociology). Tokyo, Jinbun Shoin.

 

Sakaiya, Taich
1998 (1995) Taihenna Jidai (Hard Era). Kodansha.

 

Sanwa Research Institute Corporation
1998 1999 nen, Nihon ha Kounaru (Course of Japan in 1999). Tokyo, Sanwa Research Institute Corporation.

 

Nuber Ursula
1995 Der Mythos Vom Fruhen Trauma (The Myths of Children's Trauma), Frankfurt am Main, Germany: S.Fischer Verlag GmbH. (translated in Japanese, Kizutukiyasui Kodomo toiu Shinwa. translated by Shizuya Okazawa, Tokyo, Iwanamishoten, 1997)

 

Yasuo Takeuchi
1995 Nihonjin no Kodobunpo (Behavior Grammar of the Japanese People). Tokyo, Toyokeizaishinposha.

 

Author

Mitsuo Fukuda (Doctor of Missiology, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the founding executive director for the RAC Network (Rethinking Authentic Christianity Network). His works include "Developing a Contextualized Church as a Bridge to Christianity in Japan", "Paradigm Shift in Contextualization", "Metoring Like Barnabus" and "Readings in Missiology : Japanese Culture and Christianity".