If bilingual congregations are to grow, a new generation of leaders must be developed, and Larry Acosta and Noel Castellanos are stepping up to the challenge.
Through his Hispanic Ministry Center in Santa Ana, California, Acosta, 37, provides informal training to equip emerging Latino youth-work leaders. "There is a leadership vacuum in the Latino church and community, and often that is because young people in the Latino church are underutilized and undervalued," Acosta says.
A veteran youth worker, Acosta was an associate pastor at Grace Church of Cypress, California, when he decided to reconnect with the Latino community. "It is a little bit like redeeming my past," Acosta says. "When I was a young, emerging Latino leader, there wasn't anyone out there trying to develop and affirm me, so I gravitated to the suburban world and Anglo community."
The center also publishes Shout, a four-color quarterly journal about Latino youth ministry, and offers internships for young leaders to develop ministry skills at KidWorks, the center's neighborhood day camp in Santa Ana.
Castellanos, 39, president of the Latino Leadership Network (LLN), targets Hispanic leadership development via linkages with senior pastors as well as middle-class lay leaders.
"Inner-city Latino churches are almost invisible to suburban, middle-class Christians—Latinos as well as Anglos," Castellanos says. "We need partnerships between these groups."
Through LLN, Castellanos directs the DeVos National Training Initiative, which equips African-American and Latino urban youth workers as well as pastors interested in youth work. Now in its second year, the initiative has reached eight cities.
Like Acosta, Castellanos had significant training in Anglo contexts before returning to work within Latino community structures. He served with Young Life in California before moving to Chicago and birthing La Villita Community Church.
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