Is your church ready for a Spanish ministry? Many churches develop a burden to reach Hispanics and make preparations to launch an outreach but never see lasting fruit by way of a consistent established ministry. Dozens of ministries initiate but very few survive, and fewer thrive. The Spanish ministry graveyard is laden with tombstones from churches that began with huge enthusiasm but did not have what it takes to develop a mature outreach. It is not enough to know the need for a Spanish ministry in your community, but you must also assess the probability of your church carrying it through. What constitutes a church that is ready to reach Hispanics? Here are four vital questions to ask before you begin a Spanish ministry.
It is unreasonable to expect a church to reach people from a foreign culture and/or tongue if they are not already reaching those who look and sound like themselves. A mark of a mature church is a place where the majority of the members are naturally witnessing to their co-workers, friends, and family. If a church is not already regularly seeing people saved and discipled, then growth is needed before it takes on a difficult Spanish ministry.
It is best for a new Spanish ministry to begin in a church that is vitally growing and thriving. This is such a simple principle, but it is often overlooked. What is the condition of your current children’s program, discipleship ministry, Sunday School classes and prayer meeting? If these and other current ministries of your church do not have their own life-blood, then a new Spanish ministry probably will not either.
Allow me to illustrate this truth with the following: Recently, a friend of mine was forced to deliver his wife’s baby in their home. Fortunately, having the baby in their home was their plan all along. They carefully prepared a room with all the necessary tools for birthing the baby. What they did not expect was the fact that the baby would come so quickly that the mid-wife would not make it to their home on time. Even without the mid-wife they had a good delivery experience because they were prepared. Many churches are asking God to give them brand new baby Hispanic believers but they are not prepared. The excuse for not reaching Hispanics is that they do not have a mid-wife; that is an experienced Spanish missionary. When a church desiring to reach Hispanics is already growing and thriving they will find that God will bless them with brand new baby believers even without a missionary. Don’t wait for the mid-wife before you prepare the nursery.
Hispanics are very relational. In order to effectively reach them it requires hours of building relationships and investing in their lives. Many pastors attempt to run potential converts through some program all the while hiding behind the pulpit. Other churches believe that God will give them a Spanish ministry by hanging a sign outside of their church. If you are a pastor or a deacon, is it natural for you to simply spend time with the lost to cultivate relationships with them? If so, then it is likely that your church has taken on your personality over the years and it is a prime candidate to begin reaching Hispanics.
This is where most churches get stuck. They dream of a big Spanish ministry only to lose hope over the years when God does not provide a Spanish speaker to lead the ministry full-time. I believe that it is possible to effectively evangelize and integrate Hispanics into a congregation. It simply takes five to ten years of faith, commitment, and tenacity to see it happen. As the ministry develops, God will not leave new converts shepherdless. It could well be that the full-time leader of the ministry will be called out from the very same Hispanic group of believers that your church reached.
Is your church considering a Spanish ministry? This could be the most difficult ministry the church has ever encountered. Asking the right questions will help your church to determine if God is in it. When God is in it, He prepares the soil to be rich and fertile resulting in apparent and lasting fruit. Do an honest assessment before you begin. Then, if God is in it, watch the fruit come as you simply sow the seeds.
by David Whitcher, missionary with Baptist Church Planters