Hispanics may now be the largest demographic group in Texas, and Baptists there have been examining what the influx of different cultures will mean for their religion moving forward.
Dr. Julio Guarneri of Baptist Standard writes that examining that influx has highlighted the problem of English-only services. Offering Spanish-language worship services and ministries would be one way to reach more Hispanic Texans. Theological education can also include cross-cultural training. A shortage of leaders equipped to cater to the growing Hispanic community has become a hindrance.
A study done in 2021 suggests Hispanic Texans make up 40.2 percent of the state’s population, while non-Hispanic white Texans make up 39.4 percent. This, of course, does not surprise us.
Demographers have been forecasting this for decades, but the moment has arrived. We must ask ourselves: “What are the implications? What does this mean for Texas Baptists, particularly?” Although many of us have known this day was coming, are we ready?
Churches are also going to have to be more culturally sensitive. Though people of Hispanic heritage do share some cultural similarities, they aren’t a unified bloc and it’s important to recognize that.
While Hispanics may share a language or some common heritage, Hispanics of Mexican background have a different culture than those of Puerto Rican or Cuban descent. Argentinian culture is different from Salvadorian or Guatemalan. Colombians and Spaniards may share some commonalities but differ in multiple ways, as do Hispanics who have lived in the United States for three or four generations.
In addition to country of origin, cultural differences also exist depending on educational level, socioeconomic status and whether people come from rural or urban areas. Churches that wish to be effective in reaching Hispanics need to be aware of this and not assume there is a monolithic “Hispanic culture.”
Nevertheless, we must make an honest assessment of where we are and where the gaps are. My guess is we cannot continue with business as usual but must ramp up our efforts to plant new churches, prepare more leaders and position ourselves cross-culturally.
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