Hispanic churches face unique challenges with cultural expression

Younger Hispanics don’t see speaking the language as necessary to expressing their culture. This can cause difficulties when trying to create a church environment for this generation.It’s not always easy for any church to reach millennials or post-millennials in an increasingly secular culture. But, Hispanic churches often have additional challenges when it comes to reaching young adults in Florida.

As Spanish-speaking churches affiliated with the Florida Baptist Convention grow, and younger generations come of age, it often takes time and effort to figure out the church’s cultural expression, said Emmanuel Roque, the FBC’s Hispanic church catalyst.

First- and second-generation Hispanics have deep roots in their Hispanic cultures, and they see that as going hand in hand with their Spanish language.

But younger Hispanics don’t see speaking Spanish as necessary to expressing their Hispanic culture. In fact, many times they prefer English while remaining deeply rooted in their culture through expressions, customs, music and holidays.

“A church has to represent its community, be a missionary in its culture and also include generational expressions—Hispanic-American identity, Hispanic identity, Southern Baptist identity. The key is involvement of each generation in church life,” Roque said.

But there are some advantages when it comes to reaching younger Hispanic-Americans. Billy Young, next generation ministries catalyst with the Florida Baptist Convention, said millennials and post-millennials are the generations that have perhaps been the most exposed to diversity through Florida’s public school systems.

“Student ministry/college ministry is more diverse than other ministries because [millennials and post-millennials] have gone to school with many different cultures; they are accustomed to interacting with people different than they.”

For Young, this is encouraging because it means that millennials and post-millennials within our Southern Baptist churches already possess some of the best tools to reach their peers. To go deeper with what Young is trying to convey, click here: http://gofbw.com/blog?id=1509

I go into more depth about how we can reach Hispanic millennials—in other words, how we reach my generation!—in the cover story of our March print edition.

Keila Diaz is the Miami-based reporter for the Florida Baptist Witness, the official news source of the Florida Baptist State Convention. She can be reached by phone at 305-724-0544, or via email at keila.diaz@gofbw.com

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