Coffee, ginger ale and friendships
Missional business café a centre for community outreach in Japan

By John Stuart, Japan in East Asia

It’s a Thursday evening and Japanese young people sit in a public café, listening to live Christian music. This is an almost unheard of occurrence in Japan, where only 1 percent of the population is Christian and even fewer in this northern region where the café opened in January 2017.

For five months, local church members joined together in renovating an existing structure owned by the church to give life to the café. Now, it’s open five or six days a week and has an increasing clientele who come for lunch, coffee and desserts. Café managers also hold other events like English classes and these Gospel music nights, where people can hear Christian artists play and explain the meanings of their songs.

This is where Dan and his family serve with SIM and Asian Access. Two days a week he works at the café, happily serving customers as part of his ministry.

“With Japan being one of the least-reached societies, the Bible, Jesus, and the Church are not things that people know,” Dan says. “Having a café or other missional business is a great bridge to that gap here.”

They hope to expand the café’s appeal with a deck for outside seating and events like open mic nights and game nights. Situated on the church’s property, their desire is to develop close friendships with people in the community. And to serve great food and drinks.

“My two favorite drinks at the café are our personal blend coffee and handmade ginger-ale,” Dan says. “We roast our own coffee blends in small batches, mixing beans from various locations. Our homemade ginger-ale is amazing as well.”

Missional business

As a missional business, the café was launched by the local church and continues to be partially subsidized by the church. But after only a few months of operation, church leaders are optimistic it will be financially self-sufficient soon.

Dan and the church leaders have exciting ideas for additional ministries that the café can be used for. They are dreaming of facilitating coffee roasting and dessert-making classes. Currently they hold English classes and want to host parenting and marriage seminars that are open to the community.

“The dream is that as people come we will be able to build relationships with them so they can encounter God through our establishment,” Dan says.