We get lots of questions when we tell people we are going to Italy. “Why Italy?” and “Aren’t they already religious?” are just a couple. Is Italy religious? Absolutely. There are over 27,000 Catholic churches and over 5,000 protestant churches to reach the 60 million people throughout the country. It’s the epicenter of the Catholic church, the birthplace of Catholicism. However, a plethora of churches doesn’t always equate to spiritual health. In fact, the state of the Christian church in Italy is majorly divided between Catholics and Protestants and even more within the Protestant denominations.
99% of the population considers themselves Catholic, however less than 10% of those actually practice Catholicism. Of the 1% who are non Catholic, .03 consider themselves evangelical, meaning the Gospel alone is sufficient for salvation. Among these .03%, half of them are internationals. That’s a bleak number for a country who pride themselves on being “religious”.
In one sense, Italians are similar to most Americans in that they practice their religion only at Christmas and Easter. Most Italians, even those who attend Mass every day, rarely read the Bible for themselves. Most people live day-to-day without knowing they have a Savior who loves them without conditions. They are completely oblivious to the Gospel of grace, and continually live as if they have to earn his love. They have to yet to grasp essential biblical concepts like the priesthood of the believer, which can have a major impact on one’s pursuit of God when you understand that one can read and understand the words of God for themselves (through the Holy Spirit’s help of course) as well as approach God through Jesus, the great High Priest.
Why Italy? We believe God has called and equipped us to be catalysts to change these statistics and realities. We desperately want to equip Italian believers to rise up and lead their countrymen to know the truths of God and to reach those who have yet to be engaged with the Gospel of grace.