Latino Evangelical Churches: A New Reformation?

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Latino evangelical churches in the U.S. are growing exponentially — are we noticing?

Time magazine recently wrote a report on the rise of Latino evangelical churches in the U.S., calling their exponential growth “a signal of a new Reformation,” even as they seem invisible to mainstream American culture. The report said Latino evangelicals are one of the fastest-growing segments of the churchgoing population, resulting from the conversion of millions of Spanish-speaking Catholics to Protestantism in the past few years. A large portion of these churches are charismatic, welcoming fervent believers carrying tambourines and flags to accent their worship. Even the largest Assembly of God congregation in the nation, the 17,000-strong New Covenant Church in Chicago led by Wilfred de Jesus, started as a 100-member Spanish-speaking iglesia. 

Richard Land, former president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, warned pastors four years ago not to overlook the Latino reformation. “Because if you left [Washington, DC], and drove all the way to L.A., and you took the southern route, there wouldn’t be one town you’d pass that doesn’t have a Baptist church with an iglesia bautista attached to it.” Land estimates that 40 percent of Latino Southern Baptists are undocumented, and that is something his brethren cannot ignore. “They came here to work, we’re evangelistic, we shared the gospel with them, they became Baptist.”

Does your church have a ministry for Spanish-speakers? Do you have a Latino service in your church? Are you seeing this kind of growth in the past few years? Share your experience with us below.

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  • Pastor Eric Puente

    I saw this trend about 8 years ago doing a research paper at seminary. At this point, those who started early (pentecostals 1940’s) have a huge advantage over those who did not (Presbyterian Church in America). The same is true of seminaries. Compare for example the online faculty list of say Fuller versus Dallas Theological. Every five or so years the effects of this demographic change will be felt more in America. The reality is that there are not enough trained leaders. Protestants will need to develop lay ministerial training – no doubt about it.

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