Intergenerational Leadership – Problem at a Japanese Local Church

Rev. Paul H. Ueki – Chairman of AEA

“Give to those of the faith, so that they may be teachers of others.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

It was about twenty years ago, when I was a missionary teacher at Caribbean Wesleyan College in Jamaica and assisting a pastor at a local church. One of our youth members visited Japan for a learning project. When she came back, she told me what she experienced in Japan. One of her observations surprised me. She said, “I did not see any pregnant woman during my stay in Japan.”

I knew that Japan had a serious problem of a decreasing birthrate. However, I did not see this issue as my Jamaican friend saw. Now I am in Japan and engaged in pastoral ministry at a local church. It is my third year at this church. I recognize that we do not have members of twenties and thirties of age. It is my earnest desire to have intergenerational leadership at our church. The church board should be consisted of experienced members who worked and led the church in the past, and active members who now carry out what the board decides, and young learners who are expected to be active leaders in future. In any level of the board—a local church board, a denominational board, a national alliance board, a regional board, or a world alliance board—it is healthy to have leaders from various generations.

Japanese churches ought to emphasize in winning young people. Then they must train young people as leaders through on-the-job training. We tend to wait until young people become qualified and accepted as leaders among other members. If we wait, we may fail to draw abilities from our young members. Another important thing is to have Christian families and raise children in the church.

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