Hispanic churches: What to do next and how to do it
March 21 2002 by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer

Hispanic churches: What to do next and how to do it | Friday, March 22, 2002

Friday, March 22, 2002

Hispanic churches: What to do next and how to do it

By Jim Royston BSC Executive Director-treasurer

The growth of the Hispanic population in North Carolina creates one of the most unique and challenging opportunities ever to face state Baptists.

Our rich history and heritage in missions and evangelism makes it imperative that we respond to this new "mission field." Virtually everyone agrees we need to provide a better support system for Hispanic ministry. How we go about this will determine our future growth among this very important group of new North Carolinians.

First, Hispanics have come to stay. Just as our ancestors found the Tar Heel State to their liking many decades (or centuries) ago, the same holds true for these recent newcomers. Our first task is to avoid the "us and them" temptation that always assumes we know more about their needs than they do. A Hispanic congregation is not merely a Spanish-speaking Anglo congregation. Language is only one aspect of culture. In fact, second and third generation N.C. Hispanics will probably speak Spanish as a second language.

Training Hispanics for ministry may not necessarily match some of our preconceived notions about church programs. Materials need to be written from a Hispanic perspective, not just Spanish translations of current best sellers. Training solely in statewide or regional locations - like at Ridgecrest, Caraway or Caswell - may never fit Hispanic church leaders' needs, especially when so many leaders are bivocational. New and creative ways must be established, like aiding Hispanic leaders to have greater access to computers and other technology and developing a structure for theological education somewhere in our part of the country.

Second, we must become advocates for Hispanics in such areas as housing, immigration, wages, job safety, health care and education - all tasks requiring us to partner and network with other agencies. While starting and nurturing churches is our basic goal, we cannot ignore these other critical aspects of their lives; thus, sending mixed signals about our real purpose. In other words, do we truly care about Hispanics, or are we simply interested in adding their numbers to our statistical reports?

Any true partnership is founded on the recognition that both parties have something positive to offer one another. We are here both to teach as well as to learn. We should never assume we have more answers than they do or that our answers are always the right ones for their questions.

Our General Board recently adopted several goals presented by our Hispanic Task Force to address these and other important needs. I am confident our N.C. Baptist people will respond positively to the needs of Hispanic North Carolinians. To do less is to deny our mission and evangelism commitments.

The task before us, while both important and critical, will not be free of mistakes and, perhaps, even some bad decisions. Crossing cultural barriers with the gospel has never been the easiest business of the church. The New Testament is literally filled with cultural and religious clashes within those earliest congregations. But we must move forward. The task before us strikes at the very heart of our cooperative work together. How can a denomination willing to send thousands of missionaries and millions of dollars out-of-state overlook the most obvious mission challenge that has ever moved into our state?

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3/21/2002 11:00:00 PM by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer | with 0 comments
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