Hispanic Americans make up one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the US, and their influence is an important part of American Christianity’s diverse landscape of religious expression. But how are Latino churches reaching the next generations of Christians in their communities, and what does effective youth ministry look like in those cultural contexts?
A new report by Fuller Theological Seminary’s Centro Latino, the Fuller Youth Institute, and the Brown Church Institute shines new light on the unique contextual experiences of Hispanic youth workers and offers a fresh perspective on cultural trends that are shaping Gen Z and Gen Alpha, Latino communities, and American Christianity. Based on interviews with national leaders and local youth pastors from various denominations, the report summarizes the study’s findings and presents a number of recommendations for the creation of culturally relevant resources and practices.
“It really is important to have bilingual materials and models that respect the culture and unique needs of our youth and families,” said Centro Latino academic dean, Alexia Salvatierra. “The report highlights that the needs of our community are so different from standard, dominant-culture youth ministry needs.”
UCLA professor Robert Chao Romero believes the study’s finding that only 2.5 percent of Hispanic churches have paid youth ministers on their staffs is significant. “The U.S. Latina/o church is one of the fastest growing,” he said. “And yet, almost all books and trainings about youth ministry are based upon White youth ministries with a paid youth pastor who creates weekly events for students.” Romero, who is also founder of the Brown Church Institute, believes the future of the American church is tied to our nation’s growing ethnic and cultural diversity.
How is the growth of the Hispanic American population shaping American churches? What insights about discipleship and spiritual formation can be gleaned from the experiences of Latino/Latina youth and youth ministers? And what does the state of Hispanic youth outreach tell us about the future of evangelical faith in the US?
CT and Seminary Now recently joined with the team behind Fuller’s report to host an online forum addressing the challenges of Hispanic American youth ministry. Kara Powell, executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute, moderated the virtual discussion and underscored youth ministry’s significance for the church as a whole. “Across ethnicities, across cultures, and across languages, this project has ramifications for all of us,” said Powell in her opening remarks.
Watch the video recording of the webinar above. Panelists for the one-hour program include:
- Alexia Salvatierra, Centro Latino at Fuller Theological Seminary
- Robert Chao Romero, UCLA and the Brown Church Institute
- Roslyn M. Hernández, Fuller Youth Institute
- Josh Lopez-Reyes, Echo Park Immigration Center (EPIC), Los Angeles
- Kara Powell, Fuller Youth Institute
Click here to download English and Spanish editions of Investigating the Contextual Needs of Latina/o Youth Pastors and Youth Workers.