Infomercials run rampant. You know what I’m talking about, the style of marketing that plagues your television set during non-prime viewing hours and Sunday mornings. The kind that says, “This offer valued at over $400 is yours for just three easy payments of 29.99!” “But wait,” the commercial continues, “if you act now, we will double the order and will also include this bonus item valued at $50, absolutely free!”
As annoying as infomercials are, they will always be on the air for one simple reason – they work. They attract the lazy eye that sees that they can have something for almost nothing. Furthermore the product is almost always marketed as some sort of miracle product found nowhere else. We have heard them all: a gym in a box, a diet in a bottle, a makeover while you sleep, a hanger that will transform your closet.
Unfortunately, this same quick-fix marketing strategy is often used to catch the eye of church leaders. The book titles are enticing! They vary from promises that you can “have a large church now,” to methods that all it takes is three easy steps! Wouldn’t this be great? If every church could start a vibrant Spanish ministry and reach Hispanics by following a proven formula that can be implemented at little to no cost to the ministry then let me have it! Hundreds of churches would buy into such a product – a proven formula, a Spanish ministry in a box, a revival while you sleep. There are plenty of ministry models out there, and plenty of books being written that promise such wonderful results while implementing certain “secrets” that only the writers and clever leaders can give. What is deceitful about these ministries is that they sometimes do produce numbers, for a while. They do appear to make converts, for a while. And they do have working strategies that may work, for a while.
For the most part, the history of Spanish ministries in the United States is a graveyard of testimonies about the Spanish ministry that churches either used to have or were ideas that never got a start. As with the multiple infomercial purchases in our closets, all the methods and strategies which are highly promoted as the secret to a multi-ethnic ministry are sitting in the closet, hardly used.
So how can we really reach Hispanics? What philosophy is best adapted when considering and dreaming about what a Spanish ministry may look like? May I submit to you that the answer lies in an age-old teaching that Jesus gave for the apostles who would be the pioneers in Christ’s church. The teaching is so common that it is often assumed. It is so natural for us to consider the text when we commission missionaries that we overlook it as a command for us to reach out to the vast mission field on our own doorstep. The command is simple, yet has many implications. It is simply this, “make disciples.” Jesus put it this way, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19,20).
When we adapt Christ’s simple command as our own philosophy of ministry then we will be seeking to reach Hispanics in God’s way. In these two verses we are given all that we need to know and do to be effective in reaching a different culture group. Notice that this one command of Jesus provides us with a clear goal, a practical method, an appropriate motive, and a guarantee of success.
The Clear Goal
In its original language, the main command of the great commission is to make disciples. The main command is not to “go” as the English translation states in Matthew 28:19. Instead, the word “go” in the original language implies that we have already gone. So, the passage more literally reads like this, “Having gone, make disciples.”
Now, of whom should we make disciplesf? The passage tells us to “make disciples of all the nations.” The word “nations” literally is the word “ethnos” from which is derived our modern word “ethnic.”
So many times Christ’s commands are preached as the motive to go to every country as a missionary. The command actually gives no reference to geographical borders nor countries overseas! Christ simply tells us to reach every ethnic group. In other words, Christ wants us to be making disciples of every ethnic group no matter where they are found. If you are obedient to God’s command to make disciples of those within your reach, and if there are Hispanics within your reach, then the clear goal is simply to make disciples of this ethnic group just as you do the others in your community.
So what does a disciple look like? When you understand what a disciple looks like then you have the clear goal of what you want your ministry to produce. The goal of reaching Hispanics is to share God’s truth resulting in mature, grounded believers who are baptized and not just knowledgeable of God’s Word, but obedient to it. The Bible gives us several indicators of what a mature disciple looks like.
1) A mature disciple consistently demonstrates the Holy Spirit’s fruit.
Galatians 5:22,23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
2) A mature disciple is consistent in participating in fellowship and worship.
Hebrews 10:24,25 – “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
3) A mature disciple is able to teach others the Word.
2 Timothy 2:2 – “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
4) A mature disciple has healthy interpersonal relationships.
I Corinthians 3:3 – “For you are still carnal, for where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”
5) A mature disciple discerns between good and evil.
Hebrews 5:14 – “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
6) A mature disciple is not easily fooled by cunning false doctrine.
Ephesians 4:14 – “That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.”
7) A mature disciple understands the deeper doctrines of the Word.
Hebrews 5:12 – “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need somone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”
Jesus taught his disciples the following truth in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” There are many programs and methodologies that appear to produce fruit. Unfortunately, the fruit is not lasting. Our goal is to see God’s fruit produced in believers that remains! This is the clear goal that should be the aim of our ministry.
The Great Commission in the gospels, the example of how it is carried out in the book of Acts, and the clarifications in the pastoral epistles are all we need to know how, when, and where to minister to Hispanics.
by David Whitcher