With Japan’s population in gradual decline since 2008, many of the nation’s churches are having trouble enacting a succession plan to replace their aging pastors and ministers. The churches face the same problem as Japanese small businesses whose owners have an average age of over 60.
Christian ministry A3, formerly known as Asian Access, which specialises in mentoring churches and developing church leadership is helping around 1,000 of the nation’s churches with an estimated membership of more than two million people or around 1.6% of the population.
Takeshi Takazawa is Vice President for Innovative Initiatives and former National Director of A3 in Japan who currently serves on the A3 International Ministry Leadership team.
He told Mission Network News (MNN) that both Japanese small businesses and his ministry’s churches “are healthy to a degree, but they know that they cannot continue the same way of doing business or ministry for the next 10 years. They are stuck in having trouble developing the succession plan or finding the successors.”
“We help each congregation, each older pastor. We help through seminars, cohort, helping them to identify the vision and the mission that God has given to a particular congregation beyond the existing senior pastor,” Mr. Takazawa explained.
He added that once a transition plan is decided, A3 continues to facilitate communication, offer resources, and invite the Holy Spirit into every step. The ministry sees times of transition as invitations for people to draw nearer to God and seek His help — a process requiring constant prayer.
Mr. Takazawa appealed to other Christians through MNN: “I encourage you to pray for Japan, the people in the churches, pastors, leaders, Christians, going through this major change. Intercede for us so that we would go deeper with God through this transition.”