Pray for Japan: The Church

_1120613 With only .03% of Japan's 130 million people claiming to follow Jesus, the church of Japan has its work cut out for it.

Here are 5 ways that you can pray for the church in Japan this week.

1. Revival and unity in the Japanese Church- There are over 160 denominations in Japan among them are major divisions such as charismatic, evangelical and other groups. The events of the 2011 tsunami saw a turning point amongst the church of Japan as these different groups cooperated together to help the relief efforts. During that season the seed of revival began to take root in Japan. Pray the these roots would grow stronger and that this newly unified church would seize the opportunity of this revival and boldly proclaim the gospel throughout the nation.   2. Leadership Training- As the current church leaders in Japan continue to grow older there is a greater demand to see new leaders trained. Declining seminary enrollment and a genuine lack of committed young believers poses a threat to the future of the church. Pray that the current generation of leaders would be able to train up men and women within the local churches to become to future leaders that the church in Japan needs.   3. Discipleship- Application of biblical truth on a daily basis is a great challenge for believers who are continually being pressured to conform to this homogeneous culture. Many new believers struggle to plant firm gospel-centered roots in their lives. Pray that the Lord would give grace to his people that will enable them to live out Romans 12   4. Revitalized Worship- Many of the conservative churches maintain a form-centered worship that lacks the vitality of the Spirit. Ask the Lord to break in and give his people a new song to sing for his glory.   5. Missions- The Japanese church is still very young and has only to begun to be a blessing to the nations. Pray that the Lord would give the church of Japan a vision and burden for the nations of the earth. Japan is remembered among the Asian peoples as the nation that caused great harm and hurt during World War II. Pray that the Lord would raise up the church in Japan to a blessing to Asia and bring reversal to the historical damage.

Information adopted from Operation Japan

On Being a Portable Church by Luke Daugherty

As we worshiped together at the Upper Crust this week, several thoughts came to me that led me to immense gratitude for God's providence in our young, "portable" church. What do I mean by portable? Simply that we don't have an official church building that we can call our own. So, some Sundays, like this past one, we worship at other locations together. But why should we be grateful for this? Isn't it just a big hassle? We had to load everything up in the trailer and do a whole bunch of extra setup work. Everyone had to get up even earlier. In fact, wouldn't our setup work be so much easier if we had our own building where we could just leave everything in place for the next week? Well, yes. These "annoyances" would be avoided in our own location. But the reality that hit me on Sunday was just how minor those annoyances are in comparison to the blessings. Without our own building, we are reminded every week - and particularly on weeks such as this past one - that the church actually has very little to do with the building. This is hard to remember in our culture, where we use the word church almost exclusively to describe a building or location where we go to do things like worship or have Bible study. But the church is actually the people of God. The Greek word translated church - ekklesia - literally means "the called ones." A building is not a church. Jesus promised us that "where two or three gather in my name, there I am among them" (Matthew 18:20). Nowhere in the New Testament do you see Jesus or the Apostles talking about the church as a lifeless building or place. In fact, Jesus speaks strongly against it. In John 4, he explains to a woman that the Father is not seeking worshipers who worship merely at a specific place, but worshipers who worship "in spirit and truth." So, the primary blessing for us is that we are constantly reminded that the church is the living, breathing body Christ - God's people. This people worships God wherever they gather. It was beautiful to come together in a completely different place with a totally different feel this week, and hear the voices of his people ring out strong and clear. Indeed, it is not the building that ushers us into God's presence. Rather it is the blood of Christ that makes a way to God's throne. And the Spirit is among us to bring us there.

There are many other blessings in the portable church we can thank God for. We are constantly propelled out into the community, because we don't have a place to which we can retreat. Likewise we are propelled into one another's homes throughout the week, allowing us to practice hospitality toward one another. We can easily miss out on these blessings if we have a prescribed and safe place to go for everything we do. Additionally, we are stretched as a people to corporately take ownership in our Sunday gatherings, because it does take so much service and sacrifice to pull them off. This guards us from letting only the handful of laborers make Sundays happen. Instead, we have a weekly opportunity to serve one another and to contribute to the mission by sacrificiing our time and getting down in the trenches to do humble, sometimes thankless work: plugging in cords, setting up a book table, etc. I'm amazed at how many people give to make our Sundays happen week in and week out. This is a prime avenue for God's sanctifying work as he transforms us into humble, sacrificial servants like Jesus. Plus, we just get to spend more time together on Sundays, connecting and building relationships while we serve!

Lastly, we also have an opportunity to bless the place (and thank God for it!) that we do call home, the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts. As I participated in the True/False Film Festival this weekend, I saw 90% of the films in the Missouri Theatre. I was reminded consistently by overheard conversations that this venue is a beautiful, unique place in our city. It's the premier place to gather and enjoy the arts together. So many people around me had not yet seen it in its restored elegance. They marveled at it. I paused numerous times to think, "Wow...we get to meet here and praise God like 50 Sundays out the year. That's amazing." So we should thank God for the place he has given us to meet, even as we remember that the place is secondary. He has been exceedingly generous to us. And, moreveover, that generosity has come to us through the MO Theatre staff, such as David White, Tyler Richardson and John Gilbreth. These folks have given much of their time and energy to making this work for us. We have a great opportunity to bless them and the whole Theatre by our own generosity and sacrifice to make sure we take good care of what we've been given, as well as by seeking to frequently bless and thank the people by whom God has given it to us.

So, yes, Karis. As strange as it may sound, let's thank God that we don't have our own building. And let's sieze the opportunity of being a portable church.