I was born into a church going family, so from the youngest age, memories of Sunday school, VBS and other events abound. My parents modeled that giving of your time is equally as important as anything else we might give, so my parents were very involved in various ministries. Church life molded our family life. Our church was a small, Spanish-speaking congregation where family life was intricately woven into the liturgy and church fellowship. I loved going to church! As a young woman, I married the love of my life, Samuel, who also happened to be called to full-time ministry. For the past 27 years, we have happily served as pastors, evangelists, worked within youth ministry (and survived!) and have also served our church as administrators. I have had the privilege of working among women of all ages for over 20 years in one capacity or the other.
While there are many challenges facing evangelical Latina women (or any Evangelical women for that matter), I believe the most vital focus is mentoring and passing on our faith to the next generation. Gone are the days when we could sit comfortably in our Christianity without building bridges and offering a seat at the decision-making table to the generations behind us. There are too many statistics warning us about the lack of church attendance among Millennials, their lack of Bible literacy, lack of a sense of right versus wrong or truth. We cannot continue to do business as usual. Sadly, the statistics for Gen Z aren’t anymore promising. Future generations of godly Latina women need us to mentor them into a life in Christ and the work of the church.
Judges 2:10–12 provides a perfect example of what can happen when we don’t intentionally mentor and guide the next generation:
“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal.They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord.”
In just one generation, the Truth was lost. Faith was lost. My hope is to see all Latina evangelicals mentor young women to live a life of faith. We have so much to offer and contribute to the church. We need to pass this knowledge on to the next generation. In the Book of Titus, chapter 2, Paul exhorts Titus to tell men and women what they should be doing to ensure those who know Christ continue to grow in their faith and what to do, so that their lives will be a witness to those who don't yet know Christ. He gives specific instructions about older women teaching younger women how to live life in a Godly matter. I believe this is just as relevant and critically important now as it was two thousand years ago.
Ladies you are awesome! The knowledge and wisdom you have gained from your life experiences can be used to mentor and guide the young women around you. Tell them how God restored your marriage or is working to restore your marriage. Tell them how God was faithful to see you through cancer, or how He continues to help you overcome your illness. Tell them about your prodigal son or daughter, and how you faithfully prayed until they came to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, or how you continue to faithfully pray and believe until that day comes.
The question is, how can we provide avenues to mentorship to help us usher in and keep a new generation of women in the faith? Here are some practical ideas from my own experiences to help you execute and implement your own ideas:
1. Include young women in ministry boards.
From personal experience, I can say that the young women on my boards have contributed as much as those ladies with more experience. It has proven invaluable to hear and implement their ideas. A warning: be ready to be challenged! They are savvy with technology and social media. You will need to be willing to open yourself up to trying out new and different ideas; the status quo will not attract millennial women to the table.
2. Offer fellowship meetings specifically for young women in your local church.Offering them a time for fellowship provides them the opportunity to socialize and network with other believers and to help them transform their desire to “do good” into action. If you read about the Millennial generation, you will learn that “doing good” is important to them. They don’t want to just talk about doing good. They want to actually “do” good. Provide avenues for them to practice good works, such as; volunteering at a shelter, making meals and delivering them for shut-ins, organize a group of elderly people who would welcome young people into their home to play games, help clean up, make lunch, etc. The possibilities are endless.
3. Place yourself in situations where you will be surrounded by young women. Listen. Observe. Be present and willing to be transparent so they can learn from your successes and your failures. Children and young people know when we are not being honest. We want them to trust us and to thrive. They will trust us if we are transparent. Once we have earned their trust, they will listen. Once they are willing to listen we can offer our guidance so that they can learn to overcome their own challenges and grow in their faith.
It is my hope that every believer would make it their mission to see the next generation engaged in their faith and living out their Christian commitments within their families, places of work and communities. Let’s do it! Let’s engage and mentor the younger generation. Let’s be a vital part of our families and communities. Let’s radiate the light of Christ on them. Oh, and let’s go to church! Let’s be an example and show them what it looks like to be involved in our community of faith, serving others, loving others and giving others from the infinite blessings God has graciously given to us. Let’s not lose a generation!
Yvette Santana serves as the Women’s Discipleship Director over the Southwest region of the United States for Hispanic churches within her denomination, as well as Chief Women's Ministry Officer for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).She is happily married to her best friend, Samuel Santana and together they are the proud parents of two sons, Samuel (24) and David (21). Yvette admits she still loves going to church.