Leonardo de Chirico - who is planting a church in central Rome and emerging as a church planting network leader in Europe - answered a few questions for us as he prepares for the official launch of his church.
Q. Where are you from and what led you to ministry in Rome?
Leonardo: I became a Christian as a teenager, coming from a traditional Catholic family. I felt a call to Christian ministry that was confirmed by the local church over several years. My original plan was to be a missionary tent-maker in the Horn of Africa. But the Lord changed the direction and called me to serve Him in Italy.
After marrying my wife Valeria and going to theological college in the UK, I was called to start a church planting project in the north-east Italian town of Ferrara in 1997.
As my ministry broadened in scope, I realized that the city of Rome was crucial in order to see gospel transformation throughout the entire country of Italy. That growing sense was also shared by our national network of churches and by Redeemer. We saw the providential hand of God in calling a new pastor for the church in Ferrara that I had planted so that we could be released to move to Rome during the summer of 2009.
Q. What is your vision for the work you are doing in Rome, and what do you hope will be accomplished in the next 10 years or so?
Leonardo: I think that the mission statement of our church plant captures it well: The church Breccia di Roma exists to glorify God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, living the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a community of disciples and serving kingly, priestly and prophetically the city of Rome (and through it the nation of Italy) so that the Word of God can break through and transform it.
The vision is to start from Rome to reach the nation, to start from a church to mobilize and expand a movement, and to live the gospel to see transformation.
Q. You are church planting in what could be called the most religious city in the world, yet many would say it is among the least believing when it comes to the kind of historic Christian belief we see in the New Testament. Do you agree with that statement and, if so, what challenges does that bring?
Leonardo: Rome is a unique city in many ways. We singled out four main idols that we will address: the 'pax romana' (the old arrogance and pride stemming from the time of the Roman Empire); the 'catholica' (the imperial claims of the Roman Catholic church with its false gospel); the 'palazzo'("palace" - meaning the twisted ways of the political power - Rome is the political center of the country); and the 'dolce vita' (the sinful "sweet life" that makes Rome famous). Peoples lives are dominated by these idols and our battle will be against them as we preach the life changing message of the gospel.
Q. What are you seeking from God as you pursue His work there and what might you need from others?
Leonardo: We decided that the church will be called: Breccia di Roma Chiesa Evangelica (Breach of Rome Evangelical Church). Breccia (English: breach) is used in the Bible (especially the OT) to indicate the opening of a door in a city fortress. We pray that God will be pleased to open a significant door in this needy town, allowing the gospel to go forth (Colossians 4:2-4).
The word "breccia" also evokes an event in Italian history (September 20, 1870) when the Italian army made a "breach" in the city walls (then governed by the pope) and reduced the pontifical state to its present-day dimensions. We pray that God will be pleased to use the church to reach the city with the claims of the Gospel.
So we need global prayers to see the work taking off. As the work expands we would also need coworkers and supporters for this long-term enterprise.