Newsletter 43a - March 2003
In the church
I have just reread the beginning of my last three newsletters, those that I wrote since the restart after the summer in September, and together with this one they make an interesting progression. In November the group in the Valsugana (two couples and myself) decided to pray for one new person in the group this year. Instead, the numbers have already doubled (with still four months to go), with Robin and Flora attending regularly now, Giorgia coming again after an absence of more than a year, and Salvatore and Anna moving from Trento to the valley. Give thanks for this answer more abundant than we asked for or could imagine, and pray that the group will continue to group numerically and in faithfulness, so that one day a new church can be planted there. Now we have to decide something else to pray specifically for, although the first thing will be an evangelistic Easter dinner we are planning on holding next month. Actually, probably two dinners, since with 10 of us already in the group as well as invited friends, there will hopefully be too many for just one meeting.
A change in the church that has also been mentioned in the last three newsletters was the creation of a new group at Trento. In a way it was an experiment, as we considered future changes, and in fact at the beginning of this month it was officially decided that the mid-week Bible study in church would close this summer, to be replaced by three cells meeting in houses at Trento – one of which is the group recently created, another will be started next month, and the third will begin after the summer break. Such a change always has negative as well as positive consequences, so not everybody is 100% convinced that it is the way to go for the church, but we will at least try it out for a while. On the other hand, I can see a number of big advantages to this change, of which the improvements in the life of the church as a result of the new group have been an example. One advantage that influences me is the opportunity to train new leaders and teachers in the church. It is interesting that when the pastor left 4.5 years ago, there was a lot of growth in the leadership as people took on responsibility, with four people sharing the teaching. But now we have realised that we are in the same state as we were four years ago, and this lack of change, the realisation that none of the four of us will be here forever, and the growth in the church and in the commitments of the leaders outside of the church meaning that we are less able to do everything, forced us to look for new solutions. The way that it influences me is that it will be my responsibility to do this training. I will officially be in charge of two of the groups (Pippo will have the third) and the group in the Valsugana, but I will always be co-leading the groups with other people, and the aim is to have by mid 2004 (when I go on furlough) three small group leaders, doing the teaching and pastoral work in their group. I am looking forward to this change in my role, as it is why I am at Trento (not to do things but to help the Italians do things) and it is what I prefer doing. Having a one year deadline for training new leaders brings back many happy memories of my time at university, where the constant turnover of students meant having to continually train second year students so that they could lead in their third year. So pray for the right people to work with – mature and willing to grow and learn and help others (I already have a few in mind) - and for me as I disciple them in this aspect of the Christian life.
On the computer
On the Sunday morning news program of the major private TV channel, there is a section which reviews a few Internet sites. Last month they talked about religious sites, and my Bible site (http://www.laparola.net/) got a mention, as did the evangelical portal (http://www.evangelici.net/) that I collaborate with. It was a nice way to get some advertising to 700,000 viewers! In fact there were about 150 extra visitors that day.
My annual spring flurry of trips away and events at Trento is about to start, so here are the principal ones to pray for in the next few weeks: