Several data collection agencies have found that the Hispanic population in the U.S. is growing rapidly, and that many of them are turning toward evangelical Christianity.
According to a report by the Los Angeles Daily News nearly 20 percent of the Hispanics nationwide have converted to evangelical Christianity within the last decade, reflecting a horizontal movement away from traditional Catholicism. Considering the fact that there are more than 4.4 million Hispanics in Los Angeles alone, the data reveals an unprecedented shift of power within the worldwide Christian community.
The Barna Research Group, which collects and provides Christian-related statistical data, also observed data consistent to that of the LA daily news. According to Barna, born-again Hispanics will double from 10 percent today to 19.9 percent by 2050. Following the new projections by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population is likely to triple to 100 million by 2050, encompassing almost 25 percent of the future American population.
The Hispanic Catholics who convert often say they are drawn to Evangelical Christianity because of the spiritual experiences and high moral standards.
"We are growing because people needed something more," said said Pedro Villarreal, a pastor from the evangelical Iglesia del Dios Vivo in Los Angeles. ÂThe [Catholic Church] has good morals, but the people don't have spiritual experiences.Â
"They come from the Catholic Church because they receive something better,Â said Villarreal, whose congregation grew 15 percent over the last year alone. ÂThey receive peace and security here. There is a movement.Â
Following the demographic shifts, several denominations have expanded their ministries to the Latino population.
In the United Methodist Church, some of the denominationÂs regional conferences have experienced a 200 to 300 percent increase in their Hispanic population. The regionÂs conferences are now seeking ways to reach these groups. Other plans for the UMC include: Providing resource development to 100 new congregations and revitalizing 100 existing congregations; Offering training to 800 lay missioners and 1,500 lay people; Commissioning up to 36 new missionaries; Providing ministry resources for 500 non-Hispanic/Latino congregations; and Engaging in pastor/mentor training and strengthening local pastor courses of study.
Some 70 percent of the Assemblies of God churches are Latin American. To minister to these congregants, the A/G launched a Spanish site Â Periodico de Enriquecimento.
"We have a constant influx of immigrants from Latin America. Among them are many ministers who are becoming legal residents and fellow ministers of our General Council," states Rev. Ignacio Marrero, superintended of the Midwest Latin American district. "Periodico de Enriquecimiento will now make it possible for our Spanish-only ministers to be blessed by the contents of this resource."