Jul 23: Italy

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The flag of Italy

A map of Italy class=

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A locator map of Italy

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Italy

Italian Republic

Europe

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Geography

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%

Capital: Rome

Urbanites: 68.4%

HDI Rank: 18 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)

Peoples

Peoples: 64 (17% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Official language: Italian, but vigorous use of nine regional languages akin to Italian    Languages: 42 All languages

Religion

Largest Religion: Christian

Religion               Pop %Ann Gr
Christians49,508,37382.38-0.2
Evangelicals632,7141.11.9

Prayercast

Challenges for Prayer

Signs of hope for the Church. Many challenges and difficulties remain, and progress is invariably painfully slow. Some encouraging glimmers of hope, however, need to be earnestly prayed for:

a) Cooperation among churches. Division and polarization have been the legacies of Protestantism, but things are beginning to change. Several different church networks are beginning to foster trust, respect and even collaboration across the denominational divide. The Evangelical Alliance works to this end, as do various network initiatives.

b) Evangelism and outreach. Relational evangelism is an effective approach, as are the cell groups and house churches that often result. These and other new expressions of fellowship are increasingly popular. Also, groups such as Christ Is the Answer, Italy for Christ, the Brethren and some Pentecostals continue with larger-scale, event-based evangelism. Christian TV has an impact, but largely by promoting prosperity teachings.

c) Missions vision is still in its infancy. The churches in Italy are supporting holistic projects (Compassion, AMEN, Missione Evangelica contro la Lebbra, Missione Possibile, to name a few) and developing short-term sending (OM, NTM, WEC, YWAM, GLO). Few Italians, however, are involved in long-term career missions whether in Italy or beyond. Italian Ministries is committed to facilitate a vision for mission and has also developed a mission agency option for interested Italians. Denominational initiatives continue. International mission groups (among these: OM, YWAM, NTM) operate in Italy and seek to facilitate Italians’ involvement in mission. Encouraging developments among youth bring hope for the future; “9.37” is one such group.

d) Immigration of believers into Italy – particularly from Eastern Europe and Africa but also from Latin America and Philippines – infuses new vitality and openness into the churches, and it opens Italians’ eyes to the needs on their doorstep and abroad. It is now conceivable that the majority of evangelicals in Italy are no longer ethnic Italians. Pray that this new reality might spur indigenous churches to greater faith, cooperation and good works.

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.

     For an additional 9 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.

More Information

The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Italy.