It is still common in Europe to find ancient milestones along the side of the road which are meant, according to Wikipedia, "to reassure travelers that the proper path is being followed."
While it is hard to quantify the progress of ministry, we do like to look back at significant events which indicate that we are making progress toward seeing a vibrant, Italian church in every town in Italy. Here are several of our favorite milestones (in reverse chronological order).
At the urging of several missionaries and mission agency leaders, we are hoping to begin training European church planters and missionaries in more effective church planting models which will lead to more churches planted, more churches that reproduce themselves naturally, and, God-willing, church planting movements. The first step, God willing, will be a move to the centrally located city of Brno, Czech Republic where we will be able to do local ministry and have easy access to all European countries.
God allowed us to form a wonderful team of believers to launch the fastest church plant to date. While still in the house church phase, the Bracciano church went from dream to reality in just three years.
That's 250,000 hits in just 2 years!
After planting a church in 2008 (see below), Luciano went on to create a fully accredited eLearning school, writing, "Just think, Michael, all of this began with the input I received from your site."
Inspired by the church planting vision we challenged them with in 1999, a young family in this unreached town was able to launch a vibrant, store-front church in 2009. What a thrill to be able to offer some preaching and coaching to this precious congregation!
Who would have thought that this simple site designed to inspire, equip and mobilize Italian believers way back before most Italians navigated online, would have had this sort of impact?
This short, evangelistic work by a British pastor is being distributed to thousands of churches and their witnessing contacts at a cost of just 50 cents each!
We partnered together with our sending church and an Italian publisher to translate this intriguing, investigative book which seeks to prove the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It won the Protestant Book of the Year award in Italy!
A young church leader writes to say that the "Mission For You" site convinced him of the need to start new churches in unreached towns in Italy. God allowed him to do just that in 2008, and his dreams include the planting of at least two more!
The Monterosi church gave birth to a third church in the city of Civita Castellana which is the second largest city in the province!
The Monterosi church planting vision then sent Michael and Sherri to the city of Montefiascone, the fourth largest city in the province, where they worked alongside of five believers to eventually see the thrilling birth of a vibrant church community.
This strategic course created to equip church planters all over the world is the first known church planting course in the Italian language. It has been downloaded thousands of times!
Michael created a website asserting that God has a "Mission For You" which motivates Italians to actively serve in their churches and start new ones in unreached communities. It is listed as a Google Top 20 Protestant Website.
The small group of believers in Viterbo launched an independent church. The city of Viterbo is not only the province capital but also the largest city in the province.
Michael urged the Italian leaders of the Monterosi church to embrace a vision of starting new, vibrant churches in other unreached towns. After a month of debate, prayer and soul-searching, the vision was whole-heartedly embraced.
And thus began the long, exhausting process of learning Italian, immersing ourselves in the culture and earning a hearing among believers and unbelievers alike.
This wonderful little church was just the 3rd church in the Province of Viterbo (North of Rome) and the only one that is growing.
It is hard to choose "favorites" among the many milestones that God has planted in our ministry. While those listed are wonderful, we would also like to include our many English Camps, women's conferences, church health and planting seminars, weddings, training sessions and so on. Where does one draw the line at measuring God's goodness?