Chicago's New Life Covenant to Serve as Example of Reaching 2nd, 3rd Generation Latinos at Conference

A roundtable forum for Hispanic pastors and leaders focused on reaching second and third generation Latinos in predominantly English-speaking congregations of more than 1,000 members is planned for Wednesday in Chicago.

"The focus is on how to reach Hispanics who prefer English. To create a common ground context for optimal discussion we limited the group to senior pastors who are Hispanic, serve large churches, offer one or more Spanish services, and offer one or more English services. The focus is on how to reach people for Christ for the English services," said Warren Bird, Director of Research and Intellectual Capital Development for Leadership Network.

The one-day gathering, that is expected to be fast paced, is organized by Leadership Network, an organization that fosters innovative strategies for churches, and will take place at Pastor Wilfredo "Choco" de Jesus' New Life Covenant Church.

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Although de Jesus, who pastors the largest bilingual church in the entire Assembly of God, will not speak during the forum, his church will serve as a model of outreach and disciple making. New Life Covenant Church is known for their heavy involvement within their community and for their effective ministries in reaching second and third generation Latinos, which will be a topic of discussion at the forum.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 59 percent of Hispanics in the United States speak English "very well" which is a part of the motivating factor in hosting such an event, according to Bird.

"We'll be sitting around a table, each pastor sharing what's working well, where they're stuck, and exchanging ideas. Success will be if each goes home with a few ideas of how they can be more effective, and with a few new relationships," said Bird.

In addition, leaders at the conference plan to explore new models that can effectively reach U.S.-born, English-dominant Hispanics while sharing best practices in evangelism, leadership development, and growth.

Jaime Loya, who leads Valley International Christian Center, a multi-ethnic, multi-generational church in the predominately Hispanic region of San Benito, Texas, told The Christian Post that he expects to connect with pastors throughout the country who are not only successfully reaching out to second and third generation, Latinos but fourth generation individuals as well.

"This roundtable will serve as a lab to discover what is working and what is not. The challenges of today's church are different than before, especially for Hispanic Pastors," said Loya. "Not only are we attempting to reach multiple generations for Christ, but we are also facing the challenge of overcoming a language barrier."

He continued, "Unfortunately Latino megachurches are rare in America; therefore, these type of gatherings and roundtables are necessary to help expedite the process of reaching more people with the Gospel."

Another pastor, Joshua Rodriguez of Cityline Church in Jersey City, NJ, who will also be in attendance at the event, shares the importance of overcoming the language barrier within Latino churches.

"Very few Hispanic churches are doing English ministry. There are maybe 50 Latino-led storefront churches, all in Spanish only," said Rodriguez, referring to the number of congregations in his surrounding community, according to Leadership Network. "Our intent is not to compete but to provide a service that few others seem to be offering." 

Rodriguez estimates that about 200,000 Hispanics reside within three surrounding towns closest to his church, half of which are second generation Latinos who prefer English. Initially, he and his wife, Paula began a Hispanic-only church then later began an English ministry which has now become a "hub of transformation" for their community.

The event is hosted as part of Leadership Network's "Peer Protocol Process" in which one-day experiences take place that are designed to help church leaders explore innovative ideas for outreach efforts while discovering opportunities to maximize their impact.

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