Enlightened leaders and members of Hispanic churches in the United States recognize that their communities are in a moment of major transition. Long established barrios in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and San Antonio were once dominated by foreign-born, Spanish-speaking mexicanos, cubanos, and puertoriquenos. Now these are the neighborhoods of native-born children and grandchildren. This shift brings new challenges.
U.S.-born Latinos are usually English dominant. Many do not speak Spanish at all. Often, they do not maintain the same level of allegiance to their ancestral homelands, or the same cultural and religious commitments their parents or grandparents had.
While the overwhelming majority of U.S.-born English-dominant Latinos are still Latinos at heart, many embrace values and attributes of the dominant group in the United States, culturally alienating their foreign-born parents and grandparents. In the midst of this seismic cultural shift, it is possible to teach and equip the Hispanic evangelical church to fulfill its God-given mission in a way that strengthens Hispanic families and communities across the country.
Here is the main challenge: Conventional Spanish-speaking ministry models are unintentionally designed to preserve the language and cultural preferences of foreign-born Latinos.
My research during the past five years has convinced me that as the church's attention and resources have been drawn to the rapid growth of the Hispanic evangelical church during the past three decades, they have unintentionally overlooked U.S.-born English-dominant Latinos. Like the Greek-speaking Jews described in Acts 6:1–4, "Hellenized Latinos" are not receiving ...