When is a church doing its greatest work? Is it in the midst of building projects, large numbers in attendance, or catchy events with bright lights and entertainment? These can all be great things, but they are not what makes a church THE Church.
My wife, Jana, and I left the U.S. in January 2016 to explore Europe and discover how the church around the world functions similarly and differently to churches we had experienced. While we’ve found that many expressions of church are simply cultural extensions, we’ve seen two main priorities that are common amongst churches doing great work all over the world:
- A commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission
- A commitment to biblical community.
And it’s because of these two commitments that we now find ourselves at Rome International Church.
After spending seven weeks in Rome last summer (and attending RIC), we genuinely felt like a real part of this community and found ourselves longing to return. God, in His sovereignty, paved a way, and now we are back, being stretched in our faith, challenged in our commitment to the Gospel, and loved like family.
Our experience is similar to so many others:
- Refugees fleeing persecution and war have found a home at RIC.
- Professionals outside of their home countries for career opportunities have found a home at RIC.
- Italians and local residents who embrace a Gospel that is for ALL the nations have found a home at RIC.
- Those young in their faith, and some still lacking faith, have found a place to voice their doubts, express their concerns, and wrestle with their questions–here at RIC.
So as we celebrated the 2nd anniversary of Rome International Church on 29 January, we didn’t simply celebrate successful events or growing numbers. Instead our guest speaker Scott Chadwick reminded us that our past gives us real reason to hope in God’s continued faithfulness, and that we can continue to trust Him with our future, believing that He will continue (and ultimately complete) His good work in us.
When, then, is a church doing its greatest work? When it’s actively trusting God to do what only He can do — transform lives and make His glory known in the world.