The General Secretary's Diary On the Current State of Youth Evangelism in the Kyodan

The evangelistic efforts of churches in Japan seem to have come to a
standstill, and youth evangelism is no exception. Even so, some people,
albeit voluntarily, are still ardently engaged in youth evangelism–and
with some success. Today I would like to share one such example.

About ten years ago in the fall of 1998, a youth evangelism activity
began entitled, “A Gathering for Youth Who Will Undertake Japanese
Evangelism in the 21st Century.” It began with the desire to plant a
sense of the joy of evangelism in young people’s hearts and to raise up
from among them evangelists and pastors who would participate in
spreading the gospel and shaping Japanese churches in the future.

The originators of this gathering were a few pastors in the Tokyo area
whose churches were quite enthusiastic about youth evangelism, and some
professors from Tokyo Union Theological Seminary. Initially they formed
a preparatory committee whose members included two pastors, two
professors, young people from the originating churches, and
seminarians–in total, about 15 or 16 people. The first thing they did
was to make an appeal to the youth in Kyodan churches in the Tokyo area.
They made posters and sent out about 300 informational packets to churches.

The main speaker at the gathering was a professor from Tokyo Union
Theological Seminary who, based on scripture, made an appeal about the
importance of a spirit of evangelism. A young pastor in ministry about
ten years testified about the joy of evangelism and devotion to God.
During group meetings and elsewhere the young people who gathered were
involved in discussions, and the over 200 participants seemed
encouraged. From this first gathering about ten young people devoted
their lives to service, entered Tokyo Union Theological Seminary, and
began their journeys as evangelists. And every year since then there
have been others who have done the same.

This gathering has been held every year on a Saturday in late September
under the same banner: “A Gathering for Youth Who Will Undertake
Japanese Evangelism in the 21st Century.” Preparations have already
begun for the eleventh annual meeting in the fall of 2009. The
cumulative effect of these regular youth evangelism gatherings has been
one important way in which the Kyodan has responded to its God-given
task to do evangelism in Japan.

This gathering has generally been confined to the Tokyo area, but it is
my fervent hope that a number of similar meetings will be held in other
metropolitan areas throughout Japan. I have heard there are already
other such devotional camps and youth gatherings taking place elsewhere,
and it is my heartfelt desire that they will continue to flourish all
the more.(Tr. TVB)

–Naito Tomeyuki
Kyodan General Secretary
), with the
meaning of independent evanglism by Japanese people, to distinguish it
from the earlier cases.

II. What kind of events and activities will we hold as a Kyodan?
(1) A “Worship Service Commemorating the Establishment of the Kyodan”
will be held on June 24, 2009.
(2) Commemorative events will be held on Nov. 22 and 23, 2009. These
will include worship services at
each Kyodan church on Sunday, Nov. 22. On Monday, Nov. 23, a national
holiday, an anniversary
ceremony will be held in the morning, with large assemblies for lay
people, women’s groups, etc., to be
held both before and after the service.

(3) Two books will be published to help clarify the modern significance
of 150 years of evangelism in Japan.
(a) An overview of the past 150 years
(b) The journey of the last 50 years (the period from the 100th to the
150th anniversary)

As we continue to develop these plans (with further consideration of
matters like cooperation with other denominations, etc.) and as we begin
to put them into action, we continue to pray that they will bear much
fruit. (Tr.TV)

─Naito Tomeyuki
Kyodan General Secretary

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