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Takao Sugi

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The purpose of this doctoral project is to propose a program for training the leaders of the Sakai-chuo Mennonite Brethren (MB) Church to form supportive and intentional small groups where new believers will grow spiritually and experience a caring and loving community in Christ, so that they can become more effective Gospel witnesses in the Japanese context. The Sakai-chuo MB Church does not invest its energy in training members to be disciples of Christ even though it is very eager to lead non-Christians to salvation. There are many members who cannot get necessary help and support to grow spiritually. Because of poor ecclesiology and a lack of awareness of a rich experience as community, the church tends to emphasize only personal relationship with God, while relationship with other members is neglected.

Part One of this paper will examine the local community surrounding the church. Special attention will be given to the history of the church, showing its successes and failures. An examination of the practices, values, forms of leadership, and relationships within the congregation will identify ecclesiological issues.

Part Two will engage relevant biblical and theological resources. First, an examination of relevant literature will provide theological insights and foundations for the ministry. Then strengths and weaknesses of the ecclesiology of the Japan MB will be explored as well as an alternative church model that will support small group ministry. Finally, it will present theological, biblical, and practical justifications for ministry.

Part Three will focus on creating a pilot project. The project will raise awareness of the importance of community, offer opportunities to participate in holistic formation, encourage congregational change, and promote lay leadership ministries. This pilot project will provide structure and content for small groups.

Content Reader: Arlene Inouye, DMin

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Inouye, Arlene

Document Type





Sakai-chuo Mennonite Brethren Church (Sakai-chuo, Japan); Discipling (Christianity); Church group work; Small groups; Spiritual formation


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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