Area: 301,000 sq km
A long, mountainous peninsula that dominates the central Mediterranean Sea. Also two large islands, Sardinia and Sicily.
Population: 60,097,564 Annual Growth: 0.49%
Official language: Italian, but vigorous use of nine regional languages akin to Italian Languages: 42 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
|Religion||Pop %||Ann Gr|
The challenge of Christian leadership in Italy remains urgent, since a lack of mature, qualified and gifted leaders persists. Academic and pastoral training are needs, but finance, time and lack of vision limit opportunities. Authentic servant leadership must be demonstrated, since authoritarian structures, power struggles and dependence on programmes rather than on pastoral discipling are unfortunately common. Thankfully, increasingly diverse options are available:
a) Full-time training institutions. IBEI and IBI(AoG) offer academic degrees through residential programmes. A newly established Pentecostal faculty in the Naples area offers accredited theological degrees. There are a few shorter, residential programmes (YWAM/Gioventu in Missione).
b) Modular programmes are growing quickly, especially helpful for bivocational pastors and lay leaders. Among others are Accademia Teologica Italiana (Aurora Mission) and Istituto di Formazione Evangelica e Documentazione. Local training initiatives are also increasingly popular.
Pray that the various means of training would bolster pastoral leadership across the nation and, in turn, uplift and disciple the whole Church to entirely new levels of maturity.
The least reached sectors of the population:
a) More than 70% of Italys 8,101 comuni (communities ranging from small village to large city) are without an established Bible-believing congregation.
b) Many areas of Italy lack a strong indigenous evangelical presence (specifically: Abruzzo, Friuli, Liguria, Marche, Molise, Trentino, Umbria, Valle dAosta and Veneto). Immigration and some very modest church growth are slowly improving the situation.
c) Sardinia, a Mediterranean island with limited autonomy, has 1.67 million people and its own language and culture. Sardinia has only about 30 evangelical churches and a few Christian workers. There has been radio outreach for some years. Suspicion of outsiders, fear, vendettas, the occult and the activities of JWs all make any evangelistic outreach difficult.
d) The 1,850,000 students in 94 universities remain a needy and crucial mission field. GBU(IFES) has nearly 30 groups with around 300 students and aims to eventually have 50. Agape(CCCI), Great Commission in northern Italy and a growing number of local congregations focus on students as well. In Milan alone, there are more than 175,000 students with little outreach being done CW is one of a handful working in this context. Also, there are increasing opportunities to reach international students in Italy.
e) The estimated 500,000 drug addicts have high rates of HIV infection and crime. Cocaine and sniffing solvents are the fastest-growing problems, affecting young people in particular. Evangelicals are only beginning to meet the challenge (Betel in 5 centres; Teen Challenge 2; AoG 2).
For an additional 9 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Italy.