Reaching the Hispanics in America

When it comes to reaching their Latino neighbors, a lot of U.S. churches are speaking the wrong language — Spanish. “Many denominational and local church leaders equate ‘Hispanic ministry’ with ‘Spanish-language ministry,’” said Dan Rodriguez, professor of religion and Hispanic Studies at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

Rodriguez discussed findings from his book, “A Future for the Latino Church,” during a summit with ministers and ministry leaders at The Hills Church of Christ. Hector Hinojosa, a member of The Hills church, stressed that the summit’s purpose “is not to replace Spanish-speaking churches.”

“This is reaching second- and third-generation Latinos,” Hinojosa said.


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In Texas, people of Hispanic descent comprise 37.6 percent of the state’s population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Many don’t consider Spanish their primary language, Rodriguez said. The professor, himself a third-generation Hispanic American, cited surveys that show 96 percent of U.S.-born Latinos are either English-dominant or bilingual.

When churches focus exclusively on ministry to immigrants from Latin America, they miss the chance to reach U.S.-born Latinos, he added. Church planters in Latino communities face the challenge of engaging a Hispanic culture in an English-language context. While researching his book, the professor found examples of congregations doing this, but none are Churches of Christ.

Ron Carlson hopes that will change. The preacher for the Duncanville Church of Christ said he sees predominantly Anglo churches in his community, in the southwest Dallas metro, shutting down.

 “If we don’t reach out to the Hispanic community, who will be left in the church?” Carlson asked