The Holy Spirit, Hispanics, and the Transformation of the American Church (Pt 3)

In parts one and two, I made the case for how Spirit-filled Hispanics are revitalizing and refocusing the traditional American Evangelical landscape. Here is the lingering question: As this Latino explosion continues to permeate the collective American Christian experience, what does the future look like? What are the optics and metrics of the movement?

The Rev. Emilio Reyes, executive director for Multi-language Ministries for the American Bible Society, sees the future of the movement centered in multi-cultural churches.

"As we share the Gospel with the Hispanic community and more come to faith in Jesus, we need to inculcate Gospel principles in them. We must go beyond the emotional and into the rational. We must educate our people to have balance, to take care of their body, mind, soul and social realms. We must teach our people to embrace the USA as their country. This is where God brought us to live. We need to teach them to permeate culture in as many ways as possible. We must educate them that it's okay to be part of the political process. All of this will have a favorable impact on the community's values, priorities and vision."

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Moreover, ascertaining the values, vision, and passion of the movement enables us to conclude that Hispanic Pentecostalism stands as a catalytic force with the potential of redeeming the corporate American Spirit-filled church from what some call a proverbial spiritual wilderness.

Metaphorically, this community provides the oxygen to the fire of Pentecost in America. A fire that without the oxygen will inevitably be extinguished by the showers of moral relativism, spiritual apathy, cultural decadence and ecclesiastical luke-warmness.

Chris Richards, senior pastor of Vino Nuevo in El Paso, Texas, a 4,000-member Hispanic megachurch, believes that answering the next generation challenge will define the movement for years to come.

"Our greatest challenge is to present Christ to a merging generation in a non-religious and relevant manner. We have to be liberal and flexible with our church culture, being open to change and transformation while remaining doctrinally conservative and true to the word of God. We need to be new wine skins, flexible and malleable for the new wine to be poured into us."

Parenthetically, the critical challenge for the movement can be best described as providing corrective lenses in order to address cultural myopia. The Rev. Daniel Prieto, Hispanic Coordinator for the Foursquare Church, believes that the community must push back against ethno-centric and monolithic outreach.

"We must incorporate in the DNA of our emerging leaders a commitment to a kingdom culture perspective where Latinos reach all people, races and creed and do not focus exclusively on our own," exhorted Prieto.

Today's Hispanic Spirit-empowered community can best be defined by not only its passionate worship motif and camp meeting style preaching but also by its leadership – bi-cultural, independent, mega-church-influenced and multi-faceted in it's deliverables.

To that respect, the Joshua and Calebs of the movement reflect a bi-cultural and bi-lingual reality where collaboration and cooperation serve as the quintessential modus operandi in comparison to previous generations that at times focused on cultural self-preservation.

These same leaders desire to reconcile technology, contemporary worship, educational enrichment, community outreach and social networking with biblical truth, Spirit-empowered living, and a commitment for an authentic encounter with both the presence and power of God.

"21st Century Hispanic Spirit empowered leaders stand poised to reconcile the best of both cultures without diluting our commitment to the free flow of God's Spirit. We can be both technologically savvy and spiritually sensitive, prophetic and practical, relevant and renewing. As Hispanic American people of the Spirit, we capture the best of both worlds," explained the Rev. Eliezer Bonilla, senior pastor of Abundant Life Church of God in San Antonio, Texas.

In conclusion, America's Spirit empowered church stands poised to reconcile the optics of redemption with the metrics of reconciliation. This community, full of purpose, passion and promise, carries the anointing to preserve Biblical orthodoxy, ignite a righteousness and justice movement, edify a firewall of holiness and humility, and project a multi-ethnic kingdom culture; all through the power of the Holy Spirit.

For at the end of the day, Hispanic Pentecostalism may not only revive the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement but it may be the hope for American Christianity in the 21st century. How far will American Christianity go in the 21st century? Hopefully, as far as the Hispanic Spirit-empowered community is eager to take it.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Hispanic Evangelical Association. Robert Gittelson is co-founder of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and NHCLC Sr. Advisor on Immigration.

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