日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【April 2016 No.387】Welcoming Newcomers to the Church


As Christians in Japan are small in number, churches are devising ways to welcome newcomers, such as through a church’s website and an Introduction to Christianity class. The following are excerpts from an article on this subject in the Kyodan’s monthly periodical Shinto no Tomo (Believers' Friend), which included some examples the opinions of persons who were once outside the church. (KNL Editorial Staff)


Utilizing the Church Website to

Appeal to Society


by Miyakubo Masahiro, member

Toyama Kashimacho Church, Toyama Prefecture


Toyama Kashimacho Church in Toyama Prefecture, located in a residential area, has 131 members and an average worship service attendance of 92. About 15 years ago, at the request of the church board, an associate member launched the church’s website. This website, which centers on the worship service sermon, is updated nearly every week and has come to be used as the window through which the church widely appeals to society. In March 2007, the minister and several believers created a Website Committee. The committee analyzes the viewing and while carefully structuring the worship service sermon page, which is central, includes revisions of the contents in such a way that even a person who knows absolutely nothing about Christianity can easily peruse it and become interested in visiting the church. A newly created page features “Christianity: Questions and Answers,” which thoroughly introduces the Bible and the Church, as well as providing an introduction to the building, an introduction of the minister, and a worship service guide, etc., including many photographs.


A new brochure for church visitors entitled “An Introduction to the Church” has also been developed. With this improvement, the number of website viewers has increased by 3,700 compared to last year. We even had one person who saw the website while overseas begin to attend the church after returning home. Eventually a professional website developer received baptism and joined the committee, and so many new pages have been added. Newcomers visiting the church for the first time typically view the website beforehand. I pray that these people will sense God’s calling, so I want to continue to serve in this way.


* * *


Introduction to Christianity Class


by Tanaka Ryoichi, pastor

Katsutadai Church, Chiba Prefecture


It has been 32 years since Katsutadai Church was begun here through pioneer evangelism. Within commuting distance of Tokyo, the church has about 30 people who attend worship, although believers are advancing in age. One of the things I do as pastor is to hold an introduction to Christianity class at special times when newcomers or seekers after truth desire it. With a desire to deepen ties to the worship service, I hold it after the church service. We study while I talk about the meaning of the cross, or about God, at the level of understanding of those present. I mention the class on the church's website and in the church's introductory brochure, seeking to broaden the scope so anyone can attend. When I teach the class, there are usually two or three attendees. A husband, who came to church for the first time when his wife was baptized, began to attend church school a few years later with his grandchildren. He also joined the introductory course and was led to accept baptism. Each year we hold seasonal events, most notably “Open Church” in the fall, when we feature a music concert. Many people in the neighborhood of the church attend—20 to 30 new persons every year. To those who have attended even once, the pastor and the concert organizer send out a letter of invitation, announcing the event. After the worship service, we greet those around us, and when there are newcomers, all of us endeavor to be aware and speak to them in a welcoming manner.


* * *


The Miracle of having a Place to

which to Return


by Shimizu Yoshihiro, University student

Church school teacher,

Member, Koshigaya Church, Saitama Prefecture


I was born into a Christian home, and my church life continued from church kindergarten to church school but was interrupted by club activities, beginning in middle school. As there were school activities on Sundays, my life was disconnected from church for six years until graduation from high school. However, I failed the college entrance exam and while pondering how to proceed, the East Japan Disaster became a turning point for me. Several days afterwards, I received an invitation from the pastor, asking if I would go with him as a volunteer. This volunteer experience was a chance for me to be in relationship with the church once again. At that time, I took part rather with the thought of wanting to have something changed in myself. What I saw there in the midst of that unbelievable scene was the figure of a minister in prayer, trying diligently to embrace the pain of the disaster victims. I came to think that I too would like to try to believe what this person believed. I began to recognize some things precisely because I had left the church. It is difficult to enter the church casually by yourself. For people outside, Christianity seems to be a very remote existence. People feel vigilantly self-protective towards this unknown. I wish church people would also respect the various values of such persons. Nevertheless, in my situation, I am grateful that they warmly welcomed everyone. At present, when many persons cannot find even one place of reality for themselves, I think it is a miracle that I have a place to which I can return. (Tr. RT)



—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend)

January 2016 issue

Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko


クリスチャン人口の少ない日本で、新来者を迎えるための工夫がなされている。ホームページ、キリスト教入 門講座。そして一度教会を離れた人の意見を、信徒の友誌から紹介する(KNL編集部)

「ホームページの活用」宮窪正博 みやくぼまさひろ 富山鹿島町教会会員


です。教会のホームページは、15年あまり前に長老会の要請を受け、客員だったある信徒の奉仕により開設されました。礼 拝説教の掲載を中心としたこのホームページはほぼ毎週更新され、教会を広く社会にアピールする窓口として活用されてきました。牧師と 数名の信徒からなるホームページ委員会が立ち上げられたのは2007年3月。委員会では閲覧状況を分析し、礼拝説教ページを中心とす る骨組みを大切にしつつ、キリスト教を全く知らない人でも気軽に閲覧でき、教会を訪問してみたくなるような内容へと改良を加えまし た。聖書や教会について詳しく紹介するキリスト教Q&A、施設紹介、牧師紹介、礼拝の手引きなどのページを新設し、多くの写真を掲載 しました。「教会のご案内」という新来会者用のパンフレットも誕生。この改良で、閲覧数が前年比で3700件増加しました。ホーム ページを海外で見た方が、帰国時に礼拝に出席されるという珍しい出来事もありました。やがて仕事でホームページ作成を手がけるプロの 方が受洗なさり、委員に加わってもらい、さらに新しいページを公開する運びとなりました。初めて教会へ来られる方は、訪問前にまず ホームページをご覧になります。そんな方々に神さまの招きが確実に届くよう祈りつつ、今後も奉仕したいと思います。

「キリスト教入門講座」田中良一 たなかりょういち 勝田台教会牧師 千葉県

勝田台教会は当地で開拓伝道を始めてから32年となりました。東京への通勤圏内にある教会で、礼拝出席は平均30名、信徒の高齢化も進んでいます。牧師 の私が行っているのが、キリスト教入門講座です。新来会者や求道者が希望したとき随時開催します。礼拝へのつながりを深める架け橋と したいとの願いから、礼拝後に行っており、十字架の意味や神さまについて参加者の目線に立った語らいの中で学びをしています。教会の ホームページや教会案内のリーフレットにも講座のことを明記し、間口を広くして誰でも参加できることを目指しています。開催時にはお よそ2~3名の参加者を得ています。妻の洗礼式で初めて教会に出席した夫が数年後、教会学校へ孫たちと一緒に出席す るようになり、入門講座にも加わり、受洗へと導かれました。また伝道の機会として季節ごとに集会を開催し、特に音楽演奏を中心とした 秋のオープンチャーチには、教会の近隣の方々が多く参加しています。新来会者は、毎年数十名は与えられます。一回でも出席された方に は牧師と担当者のお誘いの便りを同封し、集会の案内を発送しています。私たちは、礼拝後しばらく座ったままで周囲とあいさつを交わし ますが、新来会者の出席時は、歓迎の思いを自覚した上で声をかけるようみんなで心がけています。


清水義尋 しみず  よしひろ/埼玉・越谷教会員 CS教師、学生

 クリスチャンホームに生まれ、教会の幼稚園から教会学校へと続いていた教会生活は、中学の部活の始まり によって中断されました。(日曜日に活動がある)高校卒業までの6年間は教会と関わらない生活が続きました。しかし大学受験に失敗し、進路を決めあぐねているときに起こっ た東日本大震災が転機となりました。数日後、牧師より、被災地ボランティアに一緒に行かないかとの誘いを受けたのです。このボラン ティア経験がきっかけで、再び教会との関係ができました。当時の私は、むしろ自分の中の何かを変化させたいとの思いで参加しました。 そこで見たのは、信じられない光景の中で被災された方々の痛みを懸命に受け止めようとする牧師の祈りの姿でした。この人が信じている ものを自分ももう一度信じてみたい、そう思えるようになったのです。

教会を離れていたからこそ見えたものがあります。教会はふらりと一人で入るのは難しい場所です。外の人に とって、キリスト教はあまりに遠い存在です。知らないものに対する警戒感があります。教会の方もそうしたいろいろな人の価値観を尊重 してほしいと思います。とはいえ私の場合は、誰もが温かく迎えてくれたことがありがたかったです。自分の居場所が一つも見つけられな い人が少なくない現代において、帰ることのできる場所があるのは奇跡的だと思います。川上善子KNL編集委員長まとめ (信 徒の友2016年1月号より)

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