This past year I have enjoyed Japanese worship more than at any time in my Japan experience. There is a fervor, a letting go, in the worship that is done in our Ishinomaki house church community. And I really believe that one of the keys is found in our mainly using indigenous worship music. Most of the songs that we sing have been written in Japan in the last ten years. I have been greatly encouraged by a movement of young leaders across Japan who have been meeting for times of prayer, worship, and revival… and some prolific worship music has been emerging.
Within our Ishinomaki community are many who have experienced great tragedy and suffering the past few years. Worship that draws us nearer to the Loving and Living God and to an eternity without suffering — expressed in colloquial, understandable Japanese — is so appealing. We are all drawn in. Our children love the times of worship… volunteers who come several weeks in a row quickly find themselves humming the melodies and wanting to learn the songs.
‘Indigenous’ refers to everything in worship that captures the heart of the faith community. Indigenous contains a strong sense of where and how the Spirit of God is leading. It also speaks not only of what comes from the people within, but what conveys to the people outside the walls of the particular church.
‘Worship’ is defined as the connection of the faith community, in its rather ordinary life, with the extraordinary mystery of God. God is active and worshipping Christians know that He is present here and now. God initiates a meeting, and we respond to his grace by bringing forth our finest offering. Worship is the ultimate goal of our faith, the releasing of our entire beings to the guidance and purpose of God. (Dr. Kelly Ballard, Beyond Worship)
I have learned so much the past few ten years or so about building relationships, house churches, church planting… but when we worship it’s not about techniques or doing, it’s about being… being in God’s presence. Sensing His pleasure. And our hearts are drawn together as we lift one voice in a common language– local friends, Christian workers from across Japan and other parts of the world — through this indigenous Japanese worship.
Here’s a short composite of some moments of worship from recent six months.