Research Project Abstract English

This is the formal academic abstract from the research project.

ABSTRACT (c) John W. Mehn 2010
After 150 years of Protestant missions, Japan remains the second largest population in the world unreached by the gospel. In the midst of downward church growth trends in Japan, a number of churches have been birthing new churches in the Japanese culture. These reproducing churches reside in different areas of Japan, are different sizes, are from different denominations and church traditions, and have diverse styles of ministry, including traditional, cell and house church models.

This project is an investigative study to identify and describe preliminary characteristics of Japanese leaders reproducing churches in Japan. As an inductive study, this project contains theological and Biblical perspectives on the definition of a local church, description of a church leader, and leadership style including submission, authority, service, and empowerment. Contemporary literature for church reproduction is also surveyed including The GLOBE Study, leadership theory, Japanese leadership and church studies, church growth, church multiplication, and church planting movements.

Field research was conducted on over sixty churches that had reproduced at least three churches over a twenty-year period. These churches were surveyed with a questionnaire to determine basic information. Of the thirteen churches that completed the questionnaire, six churches, which planted a total of sixty-two churches, were selected for in-depth semi-structured interviews. Six primary and eight secondary leaders were interviewed about personality, giftedness, leadership development, theological perspective, role, style, priorities, behavior, and practice of church reproduction.

Transcriptions and notes of interviews were subjected to qualitative data analysis using summary memos and data analysis software. Analysis found six preliminary characteristics of leaders reproducing churches: receive ministry vision from God, exercise risk-taking faith, envision the church as a dynamic sending community, develop lay people for ministry, lead relationally through encouragement, and implement aggressively through practical ministry.

This project contains possible implications for the church in Japan, lessons learned personally and about the research process along with personal ministry considerations for the future. Seventeen appendices comprising research instruments and future ministry proposals are included.

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