Theology and Culture

Creating Communities of Faith

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

According to New Testament records of mission in the early church, conversion to Christ was an event which culminated in new believers becoming members of the earthly community of Christ. The early church assumed that individual salvific transfer from the kingdom of darkness to that of the Son of God meant a numerical addition to the local church.

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The Church as God’s Missional Instrument

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

According to the Apostle Paul, it is through the church that God proclaims his glory. “His [God’s] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 3:10 [NIV])

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Barth as a Possible Source for Church Planting Theology

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

The performance was about to begin. Negotiations concerning place, length of performance, starting and finishing times, participants, primary and secondary actors, and investments of resources had all successfully concluded. The opening curtain was about to rise. As one of the primary actors, I was a little nervous. This was only my second performance. But the Director’s promise of ultimate success was an encouragement. This was no mere ninety minute performance. Like the previous drama I had performed in, this one was also to last about four years. I was about to participate in planting another church in a cross-cultural setting. During the long performance I would need some helpful resources.

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When Church Planters “Fail”

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

Church planting can be a risky undertaking because success is not guaranteed, especially in a Buddhist culture resistant to the gospel of Jesus Christ. But hope comes from understanding church planting to be essentially a theological activity rooted in the faithfulness of God.

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Why Bother Thinking Theologically About Church Planting?

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

Answer: Because the ultimate biblically informed goal of church planting transcends and permeates the daily business of church planting, thus empowering church planters who embrace this theological goal to carry out the myriad of details necessary for sticking with the job and getting it done.

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Asia Profile

The structure and a good portion of the content that follows is reworked from the Preface by Bong Rin Ro in Asian Christian Theology (2019). This post is also at

Asia has a population of 4.6 billion or 60% of the world’s 7.9 billion people (Oct 2021). There is debate about whether to divide Asia into five or six regions and what to name the regions. For this profile I will consider Asia to have five regions, with the understanding that if Asian Russia (northern and eastern Russia, sometimes called Siberia or North Asia) were to be included the number would be six: East Asia (sometimes Northeast Asia), Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, and West Asia (or Middle East). The EFCCM is currently engaged in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and West Asia.
map asia regions 2
Asia is characterized by diversity of racial, cultural, historical, and religious backgrounds. Percentages of adherents vary according to sources consulted, with about 22% of Asians identifying as “unaffiliated,” but all contemporary religions are present in Asia and all were birthed in Asia: Hinduism (25%), Islam (24%), Buddhism (12%), Christianity (7%), Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Judaism, Confucianism, and Taoism (World Atlas, 2018). Confucianism and Taoism are often not considered religions. Other than the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) Asian religions tend to be animistic. Read More…

Normal Japanese Animistic Religiosity

Here is a May 10, 2021, news item that made its rounds throughout Japan. It illustrates the normality of animistic practices that vary from town to town and lie at the heart of both Japanese Shinto and Buddhism. Read More…

Qualitative Missionary Success

According to a colleague’s recent newsletter, after S-san finished elementary school she stopped attending worship services and Sunday school led by missionaries at their nearby home. Reading between the lines, she fell prey to the busyness of life in Japan and the pressure to conform to the materialistic values of animistic Buddhist Japanese society. As an adult she neglected and repressed the work God had done in her heart during her formative years as a child.

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Evangelism Results Please!?

How many people did you lead to Christ in your missionary ministry last year?

A recent conversation with a young Japanese pastor might place this Western “visible, immediate results required” and perhaps critical question in appropriate religio-cultural context. Read More…

Teaching Theology in Japan and Canada

In June 2017 Dale began his 15th year of teaching his one semester Contemporary Theology course in Japanese at Japan Bible Seminary (Tokyo). He encourages his students to critically grasp the breadth of Christian theology, with a special emphasis on evangelical theology. He now teaches this course on a modular basis, with one set of classes at the beginning of the semester (June) and another at the end (October), thus reducing his commuting time and increasing flexibility for his students. Read More…

Dale becomes adjunct faculty at ACTS Seminaries

Dale begins teaching “Church Planting Theology” in the fall semester of 2016 and “Asian Theologies” in the spring or fall of 2017. These new graduate level courses offered by ACTS Seminaries are scheduled for alternating years. They will be live streamed from Tokyo Multicultural Church or wherever Dale is located on a home assignment. All requirements, including research, can be done online.

This expansion of Dale’s theological education ministry provides ongoing graduate theological educational opportunities for missionaries in Japan (or anywhere), helps TMC develop future leaders, and might encourage some Canadian seminary students to consider internships and future ministry in Tokyo.

And this development converges with our personal mission statement:

The purpose of our lifetime ministry in Japan is to model and encourage BOTH the vision for making disciples of Jesus Christ through compassionate church planting AND the development of evangelical theology that gives rise to that vision.

Church Planting and the Heavenly City

The opening pages of the Bible depict a rural context and the closing pages a city. This means we are on a journey toward a heavenly city.

Now, when we think of cities, we imagine masses of people—and that might not thrill us. But this future city will be very different than our cities. For example, one central feature of the heavenly city is its river, which flows down the main street. On both of its banks is planted the single tree of life (Rev. 22:1-2). So this city built by God seems much like a garden. It is qualitatively different from any city we have seen. Read More…

Ann and Dale's Transition To Tokyo, Jan 2013

In late January we moved from Sendai back to Tokyo in order to launch TOKYO MULTICULTURAL CHURCH, the church planting vision we have nurtured for four years.

So during January Dale focused on renting an apartment in Sumida-ku, teaching his last modular class of the year on Contemporary Theology at Japan Bible Seminary, and as voluntary President of Japan Evangelical Missionary Association leading board meetings and planning sessions in preparation for JEMA's annual consultation and business meetings Feb 25-27. We were able to move out of our Sendai apartment on Jan 28 and into our Tokyo apartment on Jan 30. We will be unpacking cardboard boxes and getting settled in for the next month or so--all the while trying to carry on ministry. Read More…