8 Steps to Beginning a Spanish Ministry

You do not have to know “dos, tres” to know that Hispanics are “uno” in the United States. Best estimates conclude that there are now close to 50 million Latinos populating the cities and landscapes of our country.  Over the past decade there has been a major shift in Latino demographic trends.  In the past Hispanics have melted as an invisible blanket mainly into the southern portions of Florida, California, and Texas.  Today, Hispanics have become a very visible part of communities anywhere you place your finger on the map.  Spanish language and customs are inarguably changing our culture and influencing our way of life.  While national voices are heralding a political movement to reverse this trend, we must be asking God for a spiritual movement to win this culture to Christ.  

Many churches have taken the plunge and have begun outreaches to Latinos in the community.  Many other church leaders are having great discussions but are stuck on the question, “Where do we go from here?”  No matter where your church is in the process, you should be leery of adopting a one-size-fits-all type of packaged program that promises instant results.  Nonetheless, there are some practical steps that you can initiate that will get you moving in the right direction.
1.  Pray
The very fist step to beginning a Hispanic ministry is prayer. A church should never adopt a new ministry without fervently asking God to bring it about. Prayer brings God’s specific wisdom and direction. It petitions God to open doors and opportunities that otherwise would be unavailable. Prayer also unites a congregation with a burden for the needs of others in their community.
2.  Teach
– The Biblical Basis – Matthew 28:19’s to “teach all nations” literally means teach all ethnic groups.
– The Priority of the Gospel – while there are various social and political concerns with Hispanic immigration, people’s greatest need is Christ.
– Evangelism Lifestyle – God wants every Christian to reach their sphere of influence as they go about their daily life.  If you come in contact with Latinos you must be sharing the gospel.  
3.  Learn
– The Hispanic Culture – which is unique and diverse.
– Philosophy of Ministry – study the various philosophies of reaching Hispanics and adopt your own by avoiding the pitfalls and adopting biblical balance.
– The Demographics – remember that Latinos often congregate in certain neighborhoods or around a place of employment such as a factory or meat packing plant.
– The Spanish Language – which is especially useful for reaching first generation Hispanics.
4.  Meet

– Begin to meet the Hispanic leaders in your community. Stop by the city council and county offices and find out who they are.
– Attend Latino centered events such as a library sponsored ESL class or Latino Summer Festival.
5. Volunteer
Offer your church to the community to volunteer in various efforts.  The goal is to make contacts.  Be willing to do whatever it takes. For example, providing clothing, food, volunteers, etc in order to gain the trust of the Latino community.  
6. Reach
The next step is to begin an ESL class in your church and hold a Bible study afterwards.  Remember that you do not have to know Spanish to teach English as a second language. One Spanish speaker can lead a Bible study or translate for the pastor.  
7.  Observe
The next step is to watch God bring about contacts and opportunities that only He can.  Watch in amazement as God brings solid bi-lingual Christians to your church.  Rejoice with those who put much effort into the ministry when the first Hispanic accepts Christ as their Savior. Observing God bless your effort and obedience is the most exciting step of all.  
8.  Direct
Now comes the consideration of what your new Spanish ministry will look like as it grows. You will need to determine what your goals are for the ministry. Will it be an outreach of your church that will merge with your own congregation?  Or, are you helping to start a separate Spanish church that will always be merging into our culture but best equipped to reach and disciple those who do not yet speak English?
In order to take advantage of the opportunities that God is giving us to reach the world by reaching our own communities, we must change the way we traditionally do church. We must get beyond the typical idea of being involved in missions by sending others overseas. Instead, we should be asking oversea missionaries advice on how we can be missionaries ourselves while implementing these vital steps to reaching Hispanics. 
by David Whitcher (missionary with Baptist Church Planters)