Hispanics enjoy knowing people and spending time with them. This is why there are many well-attended "fiestas" (parties) for every occasion. There is usually a lot of food (which we will discuss in a later post), loud music and much excitement.
Hispanics love visiting others (and being visited) which doesn't require pre-scheduling. They like being spontaneous. This is all part of "personalismo" (and hospitality) and a hard concept for American culture to understand who often requires scheduling and notification before a visit. On one occasion, I decided to visit an American friend without letting him know. I was told I had to call before showing up.
"Personalismo" is also shown in the way people are greeted and treated without any care for social status. When attending an event or visiting someone, the person is treated warmly and usually with a handshake, hug, and/or kiss (for the most part with the opposite sex, though man to man kiss is not foreign in Latin America). Guests are made to feel at home ("Mi Casa es Su Casa") and hospitality is expressed in multiple ways (e.g. offering of food, asking if the person is comfortable, letting them watch a favorite TV show or sport, etc...).
When sharing the Gospel it is important to consider several things as they relate to "personalismo." First, Hispanics like to be treated like real people, not like a number or a project. They want to know others and be known. It is important to build relationships with them before sharing the Gospel. This may take time but once they become believers they share their faith with their extended social network which includes family and friends. Second, attend social events to which you are invited. This is important for building relationships. When arriving it is important to say hi to everyone with at least a handshake. The same is repeated when leaving the event. No one should be excluded to avoid the risk of being offensive. Third, it is important to practice hospitality with them as well. Nothing will deter them the most from attending church than a place where people are cold and don't show any hospitality. This can be done by offering a good embrace and even offering a meal after the service.