Life. In Japan? Part 2

Life. In Japan? Part 2
Photo by Jezael Melgoza / Unsplash

Paz Coffee Shop is my second home on Saturday and absolute favorite spot for a matcha latte. Find me here on many mornings during the rest of the week too! It's the semi-permanent resting place of my former board game collection (may it never rest in peace). And it is the best place near Mukogaoka Yuen Station to be on Sunday, especially if you like passionate Spirit-filled worship and engaging biblical messages.

Please pardon my passion for this place. Truthfully, PCS (Paz Coffee Shop) is a vision for a brighter future in Japan. It's a dream that people bring into existence. Selfless servants turn this particular place next to the Tama Ward Office into something amazing.

And it's just a bit louder than you would expect a coffee shop to be. During business hours, the extra-large speakers are hardly the culprit. Instead, the clientele and events bring their lively conversation and energy with them.

Families are very welcome at PCS (Paz Coffee Shop). Notice that there is a sizable children's play area behind the coffee counter. This room contains books, a slide, a train set, and a giant dollhouse. Laughter and giggling aren't uncommon there, especially on the weekends. Of course, younger patrons feel free to express themselves. This room is a critical asset for the children's church on Sunday, as well.

Jazz Bands play as loudly as they like here. Local legends Seiji Igusa and Migiwa have also made live appearances over the last year. The gospel choir collects a few curious bystanders outside the glass window and far more inside for their charity concerts. College students from Senshu or Meiji University stop by to do homework and relax. Families with older children play Uno, or Othello, or even ICECOOL. 😄

But, Sunday service is the best part of the week at PCS. After all, the Coffee Shop was created to facilitate our body's great commission (Matthew 28:18–20).

I have been so encouraged by all the volunteers and staff as they generously serve the local community. More than a year since the grand opening, many continue to serve in a variety of ways faithfully. Some come late to clean the bathrooms, mop, and vacuum. Others come early to pray for the neighborhood or fire up the espresso machine. Some march across the region in prayer, searching for mailboxes to distribute fliers. Baking skills, barista skills, music skills, and even calligraphy skills are all a part of the Paz Coffee Shop mission.

PCS is more than a small business or a simple shop. It's a place supported in different ways by unique talents that display the incredible diversity of humanity. No one brings precisely the same thing. Members bring their willingness and availability — an offering of time and expertise — a widow's mite in service of the community. They are reminding us each day that the body of Christ functions best in pursuit of one goal.

Some have asked me: "What is the most effective ministry strategy in Japan?" Specific strategies change over time, what works today might not be the best tomorrow. There is a time for everything, as Ecclesiastes (in)famously emphasizes.

Effective strategies are born out of a healthy and productive culture. Any culture that encourages and equips people to execute plans as a team to help others will produce the most effective strategies.

A culture of unity and prayer is paramount in the pursuit of ministerial effectiveness. Unity, because growing, important missions are very impractical one-person projects. Prayer, because it builds our relationship with God and glorifies him when we rely on his help.

Setting aside some personal preferences until later to help your group reach its purpose might not always be easy, but it is efficient.

For example, I was making music for about a year and a half. The music was a far cry from outstanding, but the ideas and motives behind it weren't wrong. In the end, I discovered it wasn't practical for me to be working on that goal by myself.

The goal of making music wasn't significant enough for me to warrant recruiting others into it. I didn't have a bigger vision for that project. In hindsight, writing English hip-hop music in Tokyo wasn't very feasible. Now investing in the group vision of our worship team is time well spent. A team goal with a bigger idea that is specific, measurable, and attainable is key.

Fortunately, some individuals have considerably more talent and success in making music by themselves. They have a great artistic vision and eventually do build a like-minded team around that mission and their abilities.

I am honored to be a part of this Coffee Shop group project. Jesus' prayer was that we would be one (John 17:20-23). He prayed that the church would set aside personal differences to come together for the highest good. I pray we always continue in unity.

PCS was a calculated investment and is an ongoing project with incredible potential. Life in community is the core pursuit, followed closely by implementing systems to share and spread that life. One primary consideration was building a safe space for hurting people who are consulting the Choose Life suicide prevention program.

After initial discussions, these people need somewhere safe to meet. Fighting depression and suicide in Japan must include a community safety net for those needing help. The location and the community at PCS offer just that. Choose Life and PCS are a match made in heaven.

Offering a great place for mothers to meet and families to gather was also part of the plan. Other businesses, due to space or noise concerns, would not be so quick to make a kids' room.

The Church gathers at Paz Coffee Shop often. Sometimes for fellowship and sometimes for outreach. A business indeed, by the Church and for the Church. But also very much for the Japanese people. It's a safe place for newcomers to visit and a great site to witness Jesus' community. Our prayer and work is to multiply that life, and the life-giving community that is the Church.

The vision for this life-giving PCS is big, just like the vision for our church is big. God can do abundantly more than we ask or think. We are praying for more wisdom and workers so that soon these outposts of light will be all over Japan. Near every train station, we will be spreading the fantastic news of Jesus, committed communities, and good coffee too. ☕

What's your favorite coffee shop?