The beginning of an era?

I blogged a few weeks ago about the end of an era for me, as I stopped going to the last of the cell groups that I was running 5 years ago. Today might go down in the history of the church as the beginning of a new era. After the service and the monthly church lunch, there was the annual church meeting. There were some important decisions taken:

1) The Rovereto church planting project, that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, was presented to the church.

2) The church decided to support the two elders of the church with €200 per month. It is not really much compared to how much time they dedicate to the church, but it is a sign of a maturity of the church that finally they want to financially support their own leaders.

3) “Project Nehemia” was approved, in which the church will be working amongst the disadvantaged of Trento, in order to have a positive influence and take the Gospel into the city. The work will probably start after the summer break, although the actual project will start soon as the needed infrastructure is set up. A part of this project is the employment of a person in the church (Jury) part-time to look after it, as well as leading the church planting work in the Valsugana. Thanks to the generosity and vision of ECM, the mission will pay this person for the first 12 months, then the year after will pay 6/7 and the church 1/7, then 5/7 and 2/7, and so on so that after seven years the church will be fully supporting the person.

The last two decisions mean a big shift in the mentality of the church: instead of people leading the church in their free time from work, family and often wider Italian church commitments, which was limiting a lot what the church could do (although the time I could provide alleviated the problem a bit), the church is setting people apart to serve them and others. This is a model which should be able to cope better with the church growth.

With these decisions today, there are now two of the four planks in place of the Trentino Church Planting project – the Rovereto project and the employment of someone in the church part-time. There are still two to go: renting our own hall for the church (the desire is there, the obstacle is that nothing suitable has been found yet), and the church planting apprenticeship scheme (to train people in church planting, so that they could then pioneer church plant in the areas of the province where there is no evangelical witness at all, or somewhere else in the world; the obstacle here is that no-one has yet been found who wants to do the apprenticeship).

Around these meetings, we have also been looking after the children, who have not been the best. Stefania has had a fever for the last four days (worse at night, when it is over 39 degrees), which she got from Pinuccia, who spent the middle few days of our time in Spain a bit sick, and who had got it from her father, who had got it from Pinuccia’s mother, who had brought it from Sicily with her. Daniele has some symptoms, although seems more resilient than Stefania (as the lack of reaction to new teeth shows), and I am still holding out also. As well, both children were tired this morning (partly from the illness, partly from the long day and travel yesterday), so Pinuccia stayed at home with them whilst I went to church. Then instead of staying for the church lunch I returned home for a quick lunch, after which I went to the church meeting with Daniele whilst Pinuccia took Stefania to the out-patients clinic at the hospital. (Stefania has the habit of getting sick on Friday nights, and there are no doctors on the week-end.) It was just to check there was nothing seriously wrong, and there isn’t, so she will get some treatment and should get better again tomorrow.

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