In the historical narrative of the global Hispanic community, the Latino church has just recently experienced its own Protestant Reformation.
Although the Roman Catholic Church had prevented for centuries any significant penetration of the Reformation initiated by Martin Luther in the 1500s, the first serious Protestant impact in Latino America has come via the evangelical wing of the church—particularly the Pentecostal movement. But the trajectory of this new reformation is anything but predictable, and, as Dallas pastor David Sandoval predicts, its effects will reverberate within the walls of the church at large.
“Hispanic Evangelicals 1.0, or the first century of Latino evangelicalism, was focused on personal piety and experiential Christianity,” he notes. “Hispanic Evangelicals 2.0 will continue to do such, however they will expand their reach to include corporate piety and holiness. We focused for too long on the length of a dress, jewelry, hairstyles and physical appearance—all while our teens were getting pregnant, dropping out of school and totally disconnected from the church.
As leaders with a passion to be a part of God’s kingdom coming here on earth as it is in heaven, it is vital that we see the kingdom of God that is within us (Luke 17:21) coming as well. This happens as we come into His presence.
It’s one of the things I love about the tabernacle of David; that place where we come into His presence in worship and intercession; the flowing of harp and bowl (Rev. 5:8).
We must become a house of prayer if we desire to see the house of prayer raised up in our generation—His kingdom coming on the earth and His kingdom coming in us.
Daily, we can and must come into that place of His presence. In worship, we are able to see Him more and more as He really is. We turn our hearts to hear His Word.
We bow down and receive mercy, grace, power and instruction. We can’t help but then pray and call out those things that He has just shown us, those things that are filled with His purpose and pleasure.
We are overflowing with faith and His greater truths for all that we are praying. We can’t help but then worship as we, too, are filled with His purpose and pleasure. Oh to know Him more. But as His church there is a corporate element for us in the tabernacle of David as well, especially as leaders and especially in the day in which we are living.
My article “Open Letter to My Black Evangelical Friends” elicited some very helpful comments along with words of affirmation and, unfortunately, a number of very ugly comments. The thoughts of many hearts were certainly revealed!
Is it possible that some of the readers were not aware of the great love and respect I have for my black brothers and sisters and that it was out of love and respect that I asked some pointed questions? Is it possible that some readers wrongly viewed me as some kind of white supremacist, completely misreading my words and my intent? Perhaps I assumed too much about our unity in Jesus?
Thankfully, I did receive a number of very insightful comments, and that is the best place to start. (The only comments I will be citing were those that were made, to the best of my knowledge, by my black brothers and sisters.)
For many decades, Spanish-speaking Assemblies of God churches could typically be described as predominately Mexican and Mexican-American churches where all services were held in Spanish. Today, some see Hispanic churches as resembling close-knit families who share a similar heritage and culture. For many generations, those descriptions and assumptions would have been mostly correct.
Yet now, to the surprise of even some Hispanic churches, the “melting pot” that is the United States is making itself known and providing a “culture shock” for some Hispanic churches that goes beyond the nearly inevitable clash of generations.
“Just like most churches, Hispanic churches typically minister to several generations within their congregations,” says Efraim Espinoza, director of AG Office of Hispanic Relations. “So, they have the expected generational differences to work through.”
How a new breed of Latino Protestants is changing the face of evangelicalism