The purpose of Dale and Ann's lifetime ministry based 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 from which that vision rises.
Jesus Christ commanded his followers to make disciples. Paul obeyed by proclaiming the gospel, founding churches, and then nurturing those churches. Church planting lies at the heart of God's mission.
God’s mission as it unfolds in the New Testament has a significant ecclesial component. Therefore thinking theologically about church planting has great potential for encouraging and equipping church planters.
PROFILEAnn and Dale live in Tokyo JAPAN, serving with the Evangelical Free Church of Canada Mission (EFCCM).
Their primary ministry is church planting: leading and establishing Tokyo Multicultural Church (TMC)—an Evangelical Free Church—that they launched in their neighborhood in April 2013.
They also serve as Ministry Coaches for the EFCCM in Asia, coming alongside, encouraging, and networking EFCCM personnel in at least Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan.
In addition, Dale teaches theology in Japanese part time at Japan Bible Seminary (Tokyo), a well known evangelical seminary in Japan.
They are making plans to step down from their primary TMC leadership role, passing the baton to the next generation, then moving to Cape Elizabeth, Maine (Ann’s hometown). They had hoped to make this transition sometime in 2022, but covid seems to be slowing down the process. In the years following this transition…
- They will continue to serve at TMC remotely by mentoring and encouraging the new young missionary pastor(s) and advocating for TMC.
- They will continue serving as Ministry Coaches for the EFCCM in Asia.
- And Dale will continue teaching theology part-time in Tokyo in modular format, either in-person or by zoom.
BACKGROUNDDale and Ann have served as missionaries in Japan since 1984, living in Nagoya, Sendai, and Tokyo.
From 1984-2004 (20 years) they were with ReachGlobal (Evangelical Free Church of America). Dale was the ReachGlobal Japan leader for five years (1989-94) until beginning doctoral studies in systematic theology. In 2004, for Canadian and US tax reasons, they transferred to the Evangelical Free Church of Canada Mission.
Ann was raised a farmer’s daughter in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA. Dale was born and raised in Japan as a missionary kid of Canadian parents. With their Canadian and American heritage, Dale and Ann visit their 23 supporting churches on both sides of the US/Canada border during their home assignments.
Dale’s folks, Lea and Louise Little, served first in China with China Inland Mission, followed by Japan with Overseas Missionary Fellowship (formerly CIM) until 1965, then EFCA/EFCC in Japan and Canada until retirement in 1989. Dale’s father led the Japan field of the EFCA/EFCC until 1975 when he returned to Canada and became the founding director of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada Mission.
Ann and Dale met while seminary students at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in greater Chicago, Illinois, USA. Ann holds an M.A. in Christian Education, and Dale an M.Div. (missions emphasis) and a Ph.D. (systematic theology), all earned at TEDS. They were married in 1981 while seminary students. Their three married adult children live in the USA but whenever they can they love to visit Japan where they were raised or born.
WEBSITES BY DALEMissional
- tokyolittles.net – our main website.
- facebook.com/japanlittles – short updates of our ministry and family.
- tokyochurch.org – our church planting project, Tokyo Multicultural Church (TMC).
- efccm.asia – website of the Asia ministry of the EFC of Canada Mission
- tokyolittles.net/lealittle (under construction)– description of the life and ministry of the late Lea and Louise Little (Dale's parents).
CURRICULUM VITAE – DALEAlso see the About pages of Dale’s iTheology.net.
Ph.D. dissertation—“The Significance of Theology of the Holy Spirit for Theology of Religion and for Theology of Mission in the Writings of Lesslie Newbigin and Clark Pinnock,” Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 2000.
Publications—Regular column in Japan Harvest, the quarterly magazine of the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association. Column title: “Thinking Theologically about Church Planting.” These articles, each of less than 1000 words, can be found on the church planting theology pages of Dale’s www.itheology.net.
“Overview of Contemporary Theology.” Shimpo (Progress), No. 25 (June 2004), 13-28. (This is an article in both Japanese and English, published in parallel columns.) Read it here.
“Missionary Primer on Contemporary Evangelical Theological Methodology.” Japan Harvest, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Winter 2007), 16-20. Read it here.
“Mission Confusion.” Japan Harvest, Vol. 60, No. 4 (Spring 2009), 14-17. Read it here.
“Church and Mission.” Japan Harvest, Vol. 61, No. 4 (Spring 2010). Read it here.
Book in process (proposed title, tentatively with Zondervan): God’s Ecclesial Mission: Theological Perspectives on Cross-Cultural Church Planting.
Papers presented in other academic contexts—“Anthropological Themes in the Writings of Irenaeus Relevant to an Evangelical Theology of Religions” (1995).
“Doing Evangelical Theology in a Postmodern Environment: Systematic Theology in Conflict with Culture” (1995).
“Many Lamps, One Light: The Concept of Revelation in the Writings of John Hick” (1995).
“The Ecclesiology of Karl Barth in Relation to his Doctrine of God and his Doctrine of the Word of God” (1996).
“From Disciples of Jesus to Christians in the Church: Ecclesial Themes in Luke-Acts with Implications for a Theology of Mission” (1996).
“From Garden to City: The Mission of the People of God in View of God’s Mission to Consecrate Creation” (1996).
“Missional Themes in Adolf Schlatter, Including Points of Contact with Karl Barth.” (1996)
“The Significance of the Filioque for Theology of Religions, with Special Reference to Clark Pinnock, John Sanders, and Lesslie Newbigin” (1996).
“Justification and Judgment in Paul” (1997).
“The Missio Dei in the Context of Continuity/Discontinuity” (1997).
“Thinking Theologically about Church Planting: The Church as God’s Instrumental Community” (2000).
“Thinking Theologically about Church Planting: Trinitarian Sources” (2000).
“Theology and Church Planting” (2003). English version of lecture given in Japanese at Tokyo Christian University on October 7, 2003. Read it here.
“Japan Evangelical Missionary Association ad hoc Theological Commission Response to the Japan Evangelical Association Theological Commission’s Pamphlet No.6, ‘Fundamentalism’: AFFIRMATIONS AND QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION.” (2007). Read it here.
Papers presented at the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS)—“General Revelation and Conscience as Seen in Romans 2:12-16, with Implications for Evangelical Theology of Religions and Theology of Mission” (ETS 1997).
“Evangelical Theology Under Reconstruction: Lesslie Newbigin’s Pneumacentric Theology of Mission” (ETS 2000)
“Evangelical Theology Under Reconstruction: Clark Pinnock’s Pneumacentric Theology of Religions” (ETS 2001).
“Clark Pinnock’s Pneumacentric Hermeneutic” (ETS Japan 2001)
“Evangelical Theology Under Reconstruction: Lesslie Newbigin’s Pneumacentric Theology of Religion” (ETS 2002).
“Evangelical Theology Under Reconstruction: Clark Pinnock’s Pneumacentric Theology of Mission” (ETS 2003).
“Doing Cross-Cultural Evangelical Theology in Japan: Theological and Phenomenological Observations” (ETS 2007).