RJC World

Reaching Japanese for Christ (RJC) is a network of loving Christians, primarily in Norh America, who are helping Japanese who are here temporarily.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Japanese and American Church Culture

At our recent trip to Japan I heard Pastor Katsuhiko Seino of Tsuchiura talking about the problems that new Christians have when they return to Japan. He shared an extremely important insight. He said that we must remember and teach that the basic Japanese and Western church cultures are different!

1. At times we hear North Americans say that most Japanese churches are dead and not healthy.

2. However, the truth is that there are sick North American churches as well as Japanese churches.

3. The main issue is that there is a basic difference in church cultures, which take the characteristics of the broader culture.

4. I don't remember all the differences, but here are some of them.
1) North American culture (and church culture) tends to be horizontal; Japanese is vertical.
2) NA is informal; Japanese tends to be formal.
First names or honorific titles
3) Those who experience large active churches come back to smaller churches with fewer activities.
4) Western learning tends to be by discussion, but in Japan lectures are the accepted method.
5) The Western method of debate and speaking the "truth" no matter what is different from the Japanese desire for group consensus.

5. It is important to prepare the Japanese as he/she returns. Perhaps they will remember the general cultural differences, but if they have never experienced Japanese church life, they will expect a Western church culture.

Lets toss away the idea that the Japanese church is dead. It is alive and well! Lets remember to prepare people as they return to Japan.

What do you think?



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