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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Short Summary of A Future For The Latino Church

Recently I began to think and pray upon the possibility of planting a new church. A church for Hispanics whose most dominant language is English.  I grew up in a Spanish speaking church and consider myself a second generation Hispanic.  I am bicultural and biliterate. But as the years have passed I notice that I don't fit completely in either a Hispanic church with Spanish as the main language or an English speaking church with a predominantly homogenous group of people that are not Hispanic (I am what the author calls "living in the hyphen"). I must say, that I had not thought of this idea before, even though I have been reading about the changing demographics of Hispanics in the United States for a long time. So I stumbled upon the book by Daniel A. Rodriguez, A Future For the Latino Church: Models for Multilingual, Multigenerational Hispanic Congregations. The book offered case studies of two broad types of churches, "multigenerational Hispanic churches," those that have Spanish and English ministries integrated in an Evangelical church and the "multiethnic, predominantly Hispanic churches," which are the churches that have English as the dominant language in an Evangelical church.  There are ten churches that are part of this study in the former group and seven churches in the latter group.  Together with the case studies, the author discusses demographics,  acculturation, linguistic characteristics, and cultural distinctives of Hispanics that should have a profound effect on how the Church does ministry now and should do so in the coming years.  He challenges the Evangelical Hispanic Church to stop being monolingual and thinking that Spanish must be the only way to do ministry and think instead as missionaries whose calling is to establish multilingual, multigenerational, multiethnic, missional churches of all Peoples.  He also advocates that Hispanic churches become holistic in ministry, meaning that the preaching of the Gospel must be presented in the context of the whole person not just the spiritual aspect.  Interestingly enough, the author notes that he is not the first to point out that the Hispanic church needs to do holistic ministry, but asserts that it was twenty years ago that Manuel Ortiz pointed this out, but little has taken place since then and our Hispanic population continues to struggle socially and economically (as well as spiritually). The Church has not done its job emphasizing evangelism and social responsibility when doing ministry. He ends the book by advocating "organic seminary," biblical training that arises from the local church, where the pastor is the professor and indigenous leaders are trained and tackling the challenge that is before the Hispanic Church. The Hispanic church needs to overcome "cultural and spiritual superiority" (thinking that only those churches that speak Spanish are superior), do "more than "English services and programming" (it must adapt to the Hispanic culture, especially in worship), preach and model a holistic Gospel and develop leaders for this "moment of transition" (the moment is now) and become "cross-cultural missionaries" (our mission is more than reaching Hispanics, we must go into the world).

Many of the ideas, principles were not new to me but it reaffirmed what I believe needs to happen in the Hispanic Evangelical church. It also gave me some church models to study and observe if the Lord opens the opportunity to start a new church. 
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