• . . . that 75% of all U.S. Hispanics are under age 40, and 34% are 18 years or younger?
• . . . that the majority of Hispanics in America who speak Spanish are also proficient in English, according to the U.S. Census Bureau?
• . . . that by the year 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Latino population will total roughly 102.6 million people or 24% of the population?
Who is reaching this strategic, growing, important group, many of whom are very receptive to the life-changing good news of Jesus Christ? Last week I co-moderated a forum of senior pastors from churches doing just that (see photo above).
The invitational roundtable gathering occurred through Leadership Network, partnering with Rev. Gilbert Velez (pictured at left), himself pastor of a Hispanic megachurch named Iglesia Cristiana Misericordia and also chairman of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
The group quickly built trust, sharing their dreams and also the walls they’re hitting. They talked about everything from breaking growth barriers to different discipleship models they’re using. The conversation was practical, honest and helpful.
I was challenged by their willingness to take big risks to reach people for Christ. “Every empty seat is an empty heart God wants to fill,” Sergio De La Mora said, and indeed his fast-growing church of several thousand is typical of the pastors present. A week before our forum I went to the midweek service at the church Sergio and his wife Georgiana founded in 1998, Cornerstone Church of San Diego. They’ve outgrown numerous facilities, each time looking for more chairs to fill with people hungry for spiritual help. Guest speaker that night was Chris Richards of Vino Nuevo El Paso, who spoke on the excellence of Jesus. At Pastor Sergio’s invitation, more than 100 people came forward to commit their lives to Christ! Each was then paired with a layperson in the congregation for follow-up. What an inspiring evening.
Leadership Network wants to do everything possible to encourage and support these leaders of Hispanic congregations, both English and Spanish in language, as they explore innovative ways to develop leaders and reach new generations for Christ. Clearly they enjoyed the peer networking with each other, and they invited our help in convening them -– plus leaders from other large churches reaching Hispanics -- again in coming months. Our answer is yes, and we’re certain we’re in for a very exciting ride.
Warren Bird, Ph.D., is Research Director at Leadership Network, and co-author of 21 books on various aspects of church health and innovation. Recent blog posts include More Large Churches Are Bridging the Racial Divide, Why Is “Everyone” Interested in Leadership Development, What’s New in Young Adult Ministries, Questions Raised by Executive Pastors, Looking for Lean Staff Churches, Downtown Churches: How Visible?, What Is Your Church Learning about Outreach?, What Are the Most Urgent Questions Tomorrow’s Church Must Face?, Nigerian-Based Church Comes to North America and Today’s Co-Pastor: A Slightly Growing Trend.