Today I want to unpack our vision statement, focusing not so much on the WHAT and WHY but the HOW. As a reminder, here’s what our vision statement states:
“Drawbridge creations is a web-based manga outreach with the three-fold purpose of reaching the unchurched, resourcing the church, and empowering Christian artists, in order to bridge the gap between Church and culture; between Jesus and Japan.“
If you want to know WHAT we do, it’s right there in the first sentence, and I’ve actually talked about that quite a bit on this blog already: We’re a digital outreach, and our big draw is manga (follow those links for more).
Now let’s talk about WHY. And let’s start at the end: Japan is 99% unreached; only around 1% of the Japanese calling themselves Christians. So as you can imagine, there’s a pretty big gap between the church and the culture. And there’s a pretty big gap between most people in the Gospel. Our WHY is to bridge that gap.
So what does that look like? And what’s this three-fold purpose we’re talking about? This is the HOW. How do we hope to bridge that big gap?
1. Reaching the unchurched:
Perhaps this is the most obvious part of the vision. Of course we want to share the Gospel with people who may not have a chance to hear it otherwise. Of course we want to connect unchurched people with local churches. We want Christianity to be less foreign and more familiar to Japanese people, something they’d be open to accepting. We want to see more Japanese people become followers of Jesus.
But as a ministry, we are limited in how much we can do here. It would be short-sighted to stop here, because someday this ministry will come to an end. That’s why this vision has three legs; one is not enough to stand on for very long. This brings us to the second leg…
2. Resourcing the Church:
In addition to reaching out directly to unchurched people, we also want to help the Japanese Church reach people. So we want to provide them with resources to do so.
A big part of this will, of course, be online, as any church will be able to share links our content on their own websites and social media. But as we expand into print publishing, we will be able to provide printed resources they can use to share Jesus with people locally — stuff they can share with their communities, guests at their churches, and so on.
I can also see us partnering with local churches to do in-person events like exhibits, workshops, and other art-related outreaches. Lots of Japanese churches struggle to find creative ways to reach their communities; this is something we could help them with. I’ve personally been a part of a couple of Christian art shows in the past; it’s exciting to see Christian artists come together to build a bridge between the Church and community like that.
3. Empowering Christian artists:
This part of the vision makes me particularly excited. There are lots of young people in Japan interested in manga, not only as entertainment, but also as an art form and a possible career. And there are young Christian artists who are eager to use their talents for the Lord but don’t know where to begin. If we could inspire young Christian artists, and empower them by giving them opportunities to be a part of our ministry, that would be an exciting long-term investment to make.
Kelly Shinozawa, one of our potential collaborators, is a professional manga creator, and probably the best known Christian manga artist in Japan. When I was first dreaming up Drawbridge, I was talking to her about my vision. This part of the vision got her excited, because she often gets questions and requests from young would-be manga artists asking for advice or opportunity or mentoring — stuff she doesn’t have the capacity for as an independent artist. Kelly told me she could really see a big need for this kind of ministry to train and raise up young Christian artists.
Can you imagine the potential? Even if Drawbridge doesn’t last very long, what if there were even just five young manga creators who, through an opportunity to illustrate one of our stories, felt inspired and empowered to make a career of it? Even if the impact of our creations is small, what might those five artists go on to create, and what kind of impact could that have? What if all they needed was someone to mentor them and give them a chance? Of course, if Drawbridge is successful and becomes a long-term ministry, that impact could be increased exponentially.
OK, I admit it. There are a lot of what-ifs here.
All of this potential is exciting, but we haven’t even gotten off the ground yet. And we can’t do it alone. We need more creative collaborators, more tech-savvy missionaries, more money and a lot more prayer. If this vision resonates with you, please pray and consider how you can be a part of it.
Yes, there are a lot of what-ifs. But innovation and change will never happen without a little what-iffing. Personally, I think our world could use a whole lot of what-iffing.
And that’s what vision is all about, isn’t it?