When I was (much!) younger, I used to enjoy building model aeroplanes and ships. You know, the plastic ones which you then paint and show off to all.
My problem was that I was so eager to have the finished product that I tended to ignore the instructions, do things quickly and in my way. Invariably, by the end there were a few extra pieces of plastic which I hadn’t factored into my grand improvisation.
As I consider gospel work, I tend to face the same temptation: to want to reach the final product quickly. If I do it my way, I think it will work and be better. There are, however, no shortcuts or neat formulas. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) Gospel work in Italy is all about ‘building the house’: to see healthy churches planted which multiply and where disciples are made, equipped and built-up. There, too, there are no shortcuts.
Building his churches in Italy
We are grateful for Impatto (Acts 29 in Italy), the growing family of churches and church plants in Italy. There are now 18 localities where a strong gospel-centred witness is present and growing. A true sense of family, connectedness and a common vision for multiplying churches continues to develop. Pray for more new church plants to emerge, church planters to be raised up, and existing churches and plants to stabilise and multiply!
Jonathan leads a gathering of locals in Palermo.
Locally here in Palermo, we have, humanly speaking, been limited in moving forward in the consolidation of the LifeHope church plant. The last few years have taken us on a different path than we anticipated. Our original ‘my way’ building plans were rather neat and quick: a public meeting space, lots of pre-existing friends and contacts, relevant events and activities and hey presto, surely, certain ‘success’! But in reality church planting is ultimately God’s job. We must learn to trust God, enjoy him and carefully progress as we have opportunities.
The list of people who are in touch with LifeHope totals up to 40 people. Online connections during the Covid-19 pandemic have significantly connected us with places as far removed as Ghana and Portugal.
Church planting is ultimately God’s job … we must learn to trust God, enjoy him, and carefully progress as we have opportunities.
Since last autumn, we have been able to gather again in-person and continue to faithfully work hard, following his way. But, ultimately, any results in discipleship, pastoral care, transformed lives and the facilitation of significant community around the gospel of Jesus are God’s work. He must build. If we do, it’s in vain. Pray with us for a continued work of grace in people’s lives and for evidence of growth and construction!
Catholic shrine outside a home in Palermo, Italy (unsplash.com)
All of a sudden, amidst the perplexities of building, God shines a light and touches individual lives, building his presence into their hearts and minds. We are grateful for Carlo who has been with us for over a year now. A fervent Catholic, he came into contact with some of our group and responded gladly to the message of true life in Christ alone. He continues to delight in the gospel of grace and patiently eagerly prays for the rest of his family to experience the joy of salvation. We are praying for more Carlos. Please pray with us.
Will you build with us?
But we’re also praying (earnestly) for additional workers to come and stand with us, to join us, to be part of the building core-team, to bring life and hope to the city of Palermo and throughout this country.
We need people, called by God, committed to build according to his plan; committed, in fact, to enjoying watching the Lord build the house. Pray with us for people like this. Maybe you are a builder who could come and work with us as we enjoy the Builder who is building his church?
We need people, called by God, committed to build according to his plan.
Jonathan and Annette Gilmore serve in a church planting ministry and Jonathan leads Impatto (Acts 29 Italy) in Palermo, Italy. Inspired? Watch Jonathan’s video here.