Youth Ministry in Japan
Ministry to youth in Japan presents a myriad of challenges and is currently one of the strongest needs in the Japanese church. Christianity is a minority religion in Japan, and, within the small existing churches, youth are the minority group. Missionary Zach Motts remarks, “Churches tend toward elderly. It’s easy to overlook young people, but I think young people forming a Christian identity in an isolated situation need special care to become healthy Christians.”
Immanuel General Mission (the national church), partnering with World Gospel Mission, is acting to encourage the faith of Japanese young people. Tenants of Japanese culture create different social situations for youth than in Western culture, changing how youth ministry is carried out. In Japan, “youth” encompasses children in junior high to those unmarried in their 30s. With the high importance placed on academics in Japan, many Christian youth disappear from the church as they enter periods of intense study. Simply holding to Christian beliefs goes against the prevalent worldview in Japan, creating another level of isolation for Christian youth in their society.
With these dynamics, IGM and WGM missionaries are working to create a consistent presence and ministry to Christian youth. Through Immanuel churches, youth workers hold events like game nights and Bible studies. These provide vital opportunities for youth to find each other and build relationships. Zach notes that in Japan, “youth ministry needs to be an end in itself” rather than a program to evangelize or encourage boldness for Christ as American churches often emphasize.
To address the wide range of ages included in “youth,” missionaries have created Youth Station Business. This event is geared toward older youth who have graduated college and are starting life in the business world. The purpose of YSB is to help Christian youth in this life stage network with other believers their age and decrease the isolation they experience in a non-Christian culture.
Zach believes that establishing long-term relationships with youth is one of the most foundational aspects of youth ministry. Kevin Zirkle, WGM’s regional director in Japan, relates, “The Immanuel Church is having more district and nationwide youth events, and these are very encouraging to the young people. Missionaries are a help in this.” He encourages believers to support missionaries ministering to youth in Japan so that continuous work can be accomplished.
PRAY: Pray for Christian young people in Japan as they seek to live for Christ in a culture where they are the religious minority. Pray also for the church in Japan as it faces the aging of its congregations.
GIVE: We need you to be a part of youth ministry in Japan! You can help disciple youth by supporting missionaries in Japan who are working with young people: Zach and Esther Motts, Brandon and Izumi Kuba, and Holly Muelheisen.
MORE: Can’t make it to Japan but want to be a part of reaching this nation for Jesus? Reach out to a Japanese exchange student or a business person or family who has been transferred to your area.
GO: Do you want to go to Japan? Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can visit Japan and help meet the needs on the field.
SHARE: View a speaker outline for Youth Ministry in Japan.