Silence of the bells

Istock 000001554592Xsmall I'm wondering around in the break and I bump into Richard. It's a church planting conference so I ask him the obvious question: “What's your interest in church planting?”

He's an American missionary based in Japan. He's a music missionary.

I'd never met a music missionary before. Then it got even stranger. This guy has a speciality, it's bell choirs.

A word to all my American readers, the rest of the world does not understand bell choirs. But that's ok, you don't understand cricket.

What's Richard doing at a church planting conference? His mission gave him an ultimatum: plant a church or go home.

The mission had a change of strategy and decided that their primary calling was to fuel church planting movements. No more bell choirs.

Richard decided to have a go at church planting. Japan is one of the toughest places to plant a church. I asked him how it was going.

He and his wife had reached out into their local community and gathered about ninety people of all ages into a fellowship. They don't have a bell choir, but they do have a band and the new church is thriving. So is Richard.

I'm still thinking about the audacity of his mission agency mandating that he give up his music ministry and plant a church. I'm sure they upset a lot of their people who couldn't make the transition. Then I think about a new body of believers in a land that is so spiritually barren. Maybe they did the right thing.

That's how Richard feels and there about 90 Japanese believers who agree.