I am convinced that in order to effectively implement the Great Commission, most American churches need to have a Spanish Ministry. While I could use demographic statistics to illustrate the need for this kind of ministry, it’s probably easier and more effective to simply encourage pastors to open their eyes, perhaps drive through that part of town that they normally avoid, and develop a burden for those who live next to them, but don’t speak English. Though this article is specifically directed toward churches in the USA with large Spanish speaking populations in their neighborhoods, the principles apply to any church in any country in any town where more than one language is spoken.
However, before we can effectively plan how to minister to others, first we need to prepare our own souls.
It is common in many churches to farm-out ministry to those of other language groups. By paying someone else to reach people that the church does not prioritize, many congregations feel like they have done their duty.
I appeal to you: don’t buy into the write-a-check, appease-your-conscience, philosophy of ministry. Hiring a Spanish speaking pastor is easy; loving Spanish speaking people is an entirely different proposition. So if thoughts come tempting you to shy away from someone of a different color/race, mortify that thought, and clothe yourself with the heavenly things of your current citizenship, where Christ is all and in all, shattering all lines of Jew, Gentile, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free. Imagine your arms locked in love, resurrected with men and women from every tribe, tongue and nation, prostrated in praise before our great King. If you are a Christian, that is where you live, today, in Christ (Col. 3:1).
2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us that as we gaze upon Christ, the Holy Spirit does an assimilating work in our own hearts. So think about Him, loving and dying for the nations, calling you to carry that cross. Expose yourself often to Christ’s love for all peoples and then position yourself into a place where the Holy Spirit can transform you in this area, giving Him the glory for every step along the way (Phil. 2:13). Pray for Hispanics, eat Hispanic food (No, Taco Bell does not count; if Menudo, Pozole, Moronga, etc. aren’t on the menu, don’t call it a ‘Mexican’ restaurant), learn Spanish phrases, drive through Hispanic neighborhoods, and pray that the Lord would help you do the work of an evangelist amongst a people that desperately need Him.
If you are anything like me, there may be corners in your heart that harbor prejudice against others who live next to you, but don’t speak your language. If there are any hints of sin, perhaps a secret hope that people from other cultures/languages don’t join your church, deal with those areas forcefully–BEFORE they visit your church. If there are dark corners of sin in your own heart that you have yet to uncover, everyone will be much better off if you can hack your inner Agag to pieces now before Samuel has to confront you in front of the entire assembly (1 Sam 15:33).
Tomorrow we will look at questions to ask before considering a Spanish language ministry in an English speaking church.