I’m currently at the Church Planting Institute conference. There are six of us here from our mission; five of us came down yesterday in Martin’s van and stayed over in the most bizarre youth hostel ever. It’s next to an army camp, and to be fair, it was difficult to distinguish between the youth hostel and the army camp, particularly what with the soldiers marching through the grounds and everything.
Up for a parade at 7am with the national anthem and flag raising - that’s not military, that’s just Japan - and over to the conference venue at Fuji Hakone Land. Most of the day and afternoon was taken up with setting up, as Martin was in charge of the resource area and I was acting as the general dogsbody. I’m also demonstrating my own worship projection software at a booth in the resource area.
The conference started in earnest at about 4 o’clock, with a sermon from Gary Fujino. Gary came to our missionary conference in April and I really appreciated his talks there. This time it was a bit more abstract, talking from Habbakuk abou having expectations for God to bring change into a situation. He talked about how God had challenged some of his hang-ups and preconceptions about missionary activity, and that was certainly good to hear.
After dinner appeared to be the comedy hour. One Japanese pastor spoke about how his church saw growth not through casting a vision but through creating an image, which was an interesting idea. It’s a little like my philosophy of preaching, that you don’t necessarily draw out an application but you walk through the story with people and expect them to meet Jesus through that. I guess I was put off a little by his style, which was certainly too fast-paced for his interpreter, but there was certainly something in there worth investigating.
And then there was a talk about how all the problems of the Japanese church would be solved if we started by teaching creationism. Mmm, Single-Issue Christians.
I’m having a lot more luck with the “corridor track”, and have met a few interesting people and some good connections already. I think to be honest that’s mainly what I’m here for.