Case Study: Reaching Out to a Spanish Congregation

Pastor Herb Taylor sits down with David Whitcher, from Baptist Church Planters and talks about the growing relationship his church has had with a Spanish Baptist Church across town in Front Royal, Virginia.   

David: How was it that you first heard about or came in contact with this Spanish speaking church?
Pastor Taylor: It was about six years ago when our church was inviting the community kids to come to our weekly kid’s program.  Pastor Julio from the Spanish church brought His own children to our program.  That is when we met for the first time.
David: After that first meeting, what happened that began to strengthen the relationship between you and this new acquaintance?
Pastor Taylor: A few years after meeting Pastor Julio, my son Ben had the opportunity to take a missions trip to Mexico.  He came back with a real burden and excitement and told us that we had to go to Mexico when we had opportunity.  So last summer my whole family took a trip and we came back really burdened for Hispanics.  We began praying about whether we should begin our own Spanish ministry here in our church.  Even now we are still considering the possibility of beginning an ESL class. After that Mexico trip, however, God brought to mind Pastor Julio across town so I popped into one of their Sunday afternoon services last September and I have been attending ever since.  Every Sunday morning I finish preaching in my own church and then head on over to the Spanish church returning just in time for our own evening service.  
David: Wow, that probably was a unique experience to just begin attending services in Spanish.  What was it like?
Pastor Taylor: I arrived and found about 25 people composed of families and individuals of all ages.  While I could not understand much, the congregation’s heart for the Lord was evident. They sang with enthusiasm and were always very responsive to God’s Word being preached. The service was definitely longer than what our services typically are. The difference that struck me the most was the genuine friendliness of the congregation as well as the pastor. They immediately greeted me and visited with me for quite a while both before and after the service. This is unique. I have been a visitor in English churches where I was never even greeted once.
David: So have you been learning Spanish?
Pastor Taylor: Yes and let me tell you that learning Spanish when over the age of fifty is not easy. My wife and I looked into several programs and even debated attending a community college. We looked at several programs before purchasing Rosetta Stone software.  We are also using some material from Bob Jones University which helps us with the Spanish of Biblical terms and such. It takes a lot of time. I try to spend at least thirty minutes a day five days a week going through the lessons. Going to the Spanish church gives me an opportunity to practice. Some try to speak to me in English but I say, “No, no… en español por favor.” I would encourage every young pastor to grab a hold of this opportunity early and begin learning Spanish to be used in ministry. 
David: What is your goal in the relationship? How are you asking God to use this growing relationship with Pastor Julio and the Spanish church?
Pastor Taylor: Our goal is to just be a friend and a sort of mentor to Pastor Julio. We would like to help him in any way possible to continue to establish an independent fundamental Baptist church. I also want to help relieve some of the cultural stigmas and prejudices between churches and individuals. Both congregations are responding well and seem to appreciate the relationship. As a matter of fact, Julio told me the other day that his people are more faithful and more involved in church ministries since we have been helping him.
David: We understand that the two congregations got together for the first time a few weeks ago. How did that go?
Pastor Taylor: It was great! We invited the congregation to one of our evening services. Virtually all of their church came and it was a great experience. We did a number of things. We gave name tags to everyone so that our people would feel more comfortable pronouncing their names by reading it. We tried to make everyone feel at home as I gave a welcome and did Scripture reading in both languages. Also, a couple of weeks before hand we had our congregation practice singing a couple of verses of “Holy, Holy, Holy” in Spanish. That evening we sang two verses in English and then two in Spanish. I invited Pastor Julio to preach through an interpreter and it was just a great night.  Most everyone ended up staying for the fellowship afterwards and I was very proud in the way that our people mingled.  
David: How can others pray with you about this ministry?
Pastor Taylor: Thank you so much. First, pray that God will give our church wisdom about whether or not to begin our own ministry through an ESL class. In addition, we would appreciate prayers for our own future ministry. My family is open to the Lord’s direction if He were to call us to be more closely involved in reaching Hispanics. Finally, I know that Pastor Julio would appreciate prayers for the strengthening of his young church plant. 
Interviewed by David Whitcher, Missionary with Baptist Church Planters