Churches Using English to Reach Latinos

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Latinos make up almost 15 per cent of the U.S. population and are expected to double their numbers by 2050.

For Hispanic Evangelical churches, the growth represents a huge opportunity and a challenge.  Many Hispanic churches are now using English in services to reach out to young people.

La Casa Del Carpintero is reaching Hispanics for Jesus -- in English. When the Chicago church started in 2003 services were in Spanish only. But recently, the church realized that English is the best way to reach young.

"If we don't start having services in English we could easily lose a generation for Christ," said Pastor Isaias Mercado. "So we see it's very important that we speak in the vernacular -- the language that many people are comfortable with and for many people that's English."

Another reason is almost half of the people in the church's inner-city neighborhood are African-American.  Church members want to reach them as well.

The Right Language, The Right Time

For La Casa, it's too soon to tell just how well English will work. But if its nearby sister church is any indication, La Casa made the right choice.

New Life Covenant Church started in a tough, inner-city neighborhood. Today, it meets in a public high school.  But New Life is growing and English services are just one reason why.

Since adding the services seven years ago, New Life has grown from 200 to more than 4,000 people attending every week.

"Though we have immigrants coming in from Mexico, we still have Hispanics here that need to be reached with the Gospel," said New Life's Pastor Wilfredo DeJesus. "We're fluent in English and Spanish so we can do that."

Those second and third generation Hispanics don't automatically head to Hispanic churches, like the first generation does.

A recent pew study shows only 48 per cent of those born in the U.S. attend a Hispanic church, compared to 77 per cent of those born outside the U.S.

The Latino Church's Challenge

With Hispanic immigration on the rise, the tension between Spanish and English speakers is a challenge the Latino church will have to meet for years to come.  But church leaders insist that language is not the key to their identity.

"What makes us Latino is not our language, but who we are when we go home--our food, our culture, our traditions," DeJesus explained.

Latinos also call it the three "F's" -- Faith, Family and Fiestas.  No matter what language they speak, Hispanics say it's a part of their church life that won't go away.

*Original broadcast March 12, 2008.

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CBN News
Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News

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