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

The General Secretary's Diary : Thoughts Concerning the Development of Young Evangelists


Recently, I heard the same wonderful report from two laypersons I know well in an outlying city. Last Christmas, three young people were baptized in their church, and this was in large part due to the enthusiastic efforts of a young pastor who had been called to that church the year before. I considered this as further evidence of a trend that I have seen recently of an increase in young, enthusiastic pastors. This is, of course, something I am very pleased to see, and I feel there is much hope for the future of the Kyodan as long as we continue to nurture new leadership with a clear calling from God and a passion for evangelism.
Likewise, a total of 74 persons took this year's spring ministerial examinations, held from March 1. Of these, 58 took the qualifying examination for licensed preacher status, 15 for full ordination, and 1 was transferring from another denomination. Last fall there were 91 applicants: 19 for licensed preacher status, 69 for full ordination, and 3 who were transferring from another denomination. Thus, the total for the two examination periods during the past year is quite a large number, clearly surpassing the number of retiring pastors, which incidentally, was 38 in 2009, 51 in 2010, and this year, as of the end of February, is 42, with the figure at the end of the fiscal year in March expected to be just over 50. So if the number of incoming ministers continues to surpass the number of those retiring, this indeed will be a sign of hope for the future of the Kyodan. It is my prayer that the number of active ministers will continue to increase in the future, rather than decrease.
When I was young, two accomplishments considered to be the barometer of the health of a church was that it produced a flow of young people going into full-time Christian ministry and that it spawned new congregations. When I felt the call to go into ministry some 60 years ago, there was in the church I attended an amazing spiritual atmosphere in which several young people were led to dedicate their lives to evangelism and outreach. Attendance at the worship service steadily increased, with the sanctuary being filled to capacity. I recall the joy of being able participate in work camps to serve the community and the scene of children packing the church for the church school program. Many junior and senior high school students gathered, and from those, several went into full-time Christian service. But what is the situation now? The number of children in church school programs has drastically decreased, and so something needs to be done. Everyday, I pray that God will raise up young evangelists and give them the strength to fulfill his calling and to experience the sense of joy that accompanies this.
Training and licensing is the means the Kyodan employs to produce such new leadership. The training takes place at the Kyodan-established Tokyo Union Theological Seminary and five other accredited seminaries. The education of these seminaries stresses the Kyodan Confession of Faith, as well as the 2,000-year history of the Christian church. The licensing process consists of testing those who have successfully completed their seminary training, followed by the licensing and ordaining of those who qualify to serve as pastors in local churches. This standard procedure is, of course, the means of confirming the calling and sending forth of these servants by the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who hold a strong sense of calling then eagerly communicate the gospel and build up the church. My heart is full of joy as I see young pastors with a strong sense of calling being sent out to local churches, where they enthusiastically evangelize, leading to clear growth in the churches as new disciples are baptized into the body of Christ. (Tr. TB) (Written on March 4, 2011)
―General Secretary, Naito Tomeyuki
―若い伝道者の育 成をめぐって思うことどもー
○ 先日、地方都市に住む親しい信徒の方二人から、同じような 喜ばしい知らせがあった。昨年のクリスマスに三人の若者が受洗したという。それは一年前に招聘した若い伝道師の熱心な働きによるところが 大きいというのである。その知らせを聞いた時、最近伝道熱心な優れた若い伝道者が育ってきていると感じていたことが証明されたように思え た。教団の将来の伝道は、こうしたキリストによる召命と派遣に確信をもつ若い伝道者が育ってきている限り、とても明るい希望をもつことが でき、嬉しく思った。
○ 3月1日より春の教師 検定試験が行われた。受験者は総勢で74名(うち補教師58名、正教師15名、転入者1名)。昨秋の教師検定受検者数は91名(うち補教師19名、正教師69名、転入者3名)。このよう に年2回の教師検定試 験者はかなりの数にのぼっている。ちなみに 隠退される教師数は一昨年38名、昨年51名、今年は2月末で42名なので3月末には50名を少し越すのではないか。隠 退していく教師よりも新しく献身して伝道者にな る教師の方が多いならば、教団の将来は明るい。更に伝道熱心な若い教師が育っていけば一層教団の将来には希望が持てる。なんとかして現役 の伝道者数が減っていかないよう、いや、増えていくようにと祈るのみです。
○ かつて私が若かった頃、よく教会の健康を計るバロメーター として言われたことの中に『その教会から伝道献身者が次々に生まれてくること』と『新しく開拓伝道をして子教会を生み出すこと』というの があった。確かに私が伝道に献身しようと決心した60年ほど前の教会 には、何か不思議な霊的雰囲気があり、伝道を心からの喜び、生涯をそのために献げようと祈り導かれた青年が何人もいた。礼拝に集う人々の 数も確実に増えていき、会堂がいつも一杯の会衆で埋め尽くされていた。そしていわゆるワーク・キャンプをして地域に奉仕する喜びも体験し たし、日曜学校での子ども伝道も盛んに行われ、会堂は子ども達で一杯になっていた。中高生も多く集まり、その中から後になって献身して伝 道者になった者も何人もいた。それが今、どうなっているのか。教会学校の生徒も著しく減少しているということを聞くとなんとかしなければ と切に思う。主よ!!青少年に伝道する喜びと力とを下さいと祈る日々である。
○ 教団は教師を生み出すために「養成」と「検定」を担う。 「養成」は教団立である東神大をはじめ6つの認可神学校 に委ねられている(教規132条)、神学校は 教団信仰告白を土台として教憲・教規を重んじて二千年のキリスト教会の歴史を教える。「検定」は、神学校での養成期間を終えて卒業した者 を教会の教師として迎えられるために教団が実施し、合格者に准允、按手を行う。それが正規の手続きといわれることである。その時、大切な ことは主キリストによる召命と派遣の恵みを明確にしておくことである。この召命感が確かな者は熱心に福音伝道をし、教会形成に励む。最近 特に若い伝道者たちが確かな召命感をもって遣わされた各地の教会において熱心に伝道し、受洗者を次々と生み出し着実に教会形成をすすめて いることは、思えば本当に嬉しく、感謝に耐えないことと思う。

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