Tenrikyo’s Way of Thinking and Living: Followers, Yoboku, and Ministers

People who have faith in Tenrikyo can be classified into three groups depending on their progress in seeking the path—followers, Yoboku, and ministers—although all of them can collectively be referred to as followers.

According to the Constitution of Tenrikyo, “Those who have faith in the teachings of Tenrikyo and who are registered in their churches’ list of followers shall be called followers” (Article 45).

Listening to the teachings and attending the monthly services at regional churches as well as occasionally returning to Jiba are a few examples of what followers in the narrower sense typically do. Also, all followers have a church affiliation.

When followers wish to learn more about the teachings in order to deepen their faith, they attend the Besseki lectures in Jiba after obtaining the signature and seal of the head minister of their directly supervised church through the church they belong immediately to. This is the first step to becoming Yoboku.

The Constitution says, “Followers who have received the truth of the Sazuke shall be called Yoboku” (Article 46). Followers may receive the truth of the Sazuke after listening to the Besseki lecture nine times. Yoboku are in a position to, for example, perform rituals and nurture and train other followers, in addition to spreading the teachings. Yoboku should be aware of and proactively engage in their mission of helping others be saved. Originating in the Scriptures, the term Yoboku means “useful timber,” or building materials that serve as God the Parent’s hands and feet and Oyasama’s instruments.

Simply stated, a minister is in a position to teach. The Constitution states that “Yoboku who have completed the Lay Minister Preparatory Course and who are registered at the Headquarters shall be called ministers (kyoto)” (Article 47). Those who serve as church head ministers are all registered ministers.

The effort to grow spiritually and allow the mind to mature is emphasized as being important in Tenrikyo. This effort is a key component in the process of followers becoming Yoboku and then ministers.

From Tenrikyo no kangaekata kurashikata published by Doyusha Publishing Company

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