Bro. Collins, tell us a little about yourself and your ministry.
My wife and I have been involved in ministry for about 40 years. I have served as youth pastor, pastor, missionary to Bolivia, field superintendent in Bolivia, and as sub-regional coordinator in South America. In 2007, my wife and I were named as the first intracultural missionaries in the United States. We helped plant the first Spanish daughter work in 2008, and we have started 28 more since then.
As a part of our ministry, I have been conducting a conference call every week on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. CST. This began in January of 2017 and already one of the participating pastors has started his own daughter work via the phone conference. I walk them through the steps of how to start a Spanish daughter work, and we also discuss challenges that may arise.
Pastors can also fill out an application for us to come and help start the daughter work. We usually stay about six months on location to help the church get started with 2-3 months of training and mentoring, then 2-3 months of having services and expanding evangelism efforts.
Why should every pastor consider starting a Spanish work?
There is usually a sizable group of Hispanics in all communities, especially in the cities across the United States. They are a group that is ready for revival. It is relatively easy to reach out to them, particularly if they are first generation, meaning they just came into the country. They usually have no religious connection of any kind in the United States, so they are often ready to respond to an invitation to visit a Spanish church. I have found that respecting their culture and language is very important. If they visit an English-speaking church, they may like what they feel, but they don’t understand most of what they hear. Having an environment where language is considered and spoken so that they can understand is important. The move of the Spirit coupled with understanding is more fruitful. Providing a worship atmosphere that they can identify with and understand is extremely important.
A big part of being Apostolic is the worship, and they usually can’t connect with English worship. Pastors considering these things and the ease with which they can usually reach into the Hispanic communities can start a daughter work. It just makes sense! If we are going to send missionaries into foreign fields to reach these people, why wouldn’t we want to reach Spanish-speaking people living right outside our back door?
Most of those that have started a daughter work have been very blessed by the effort. People will come, receive the Holy Ghost and be baptized. And if their children are bilingual, sometimes they may attend both the English and Spanish services. By starting the Spanish church, you are building your English church long-term because by the third generation they generally speak English only. If you get grandma and grandpa into truth, it sets spiritual direction for the family!
Many people don’t have a clue as to what our ministry consists of, even though the Intracultural Missionary Evangelist (ICME) program was launched more than 10 years ago. In fact, they don’t realize that the UPCI has this ministry available. Currently, there are three ICME missionaries working in North America – with the Spanish, the Native Americans and the African immigrants.
What are the first steps pastors should consider if they wish to start a Spanish work?
First and foremost, there has to be a leader that is bilingual or someone who has a burden to reach the Spanish community. Being bilingual doesn’t necessarily mean they are leadership quality. I have found that if there is a person in the English congregation who has a burden to reach the Hispanics, they will acquire the language themselves. If they don’t, sometimes there is a competent translator they can use and work through. I’ve seen it go both ways. It’s best if a Spanish speaker leads the group, but a leader can work through a translator and still be successful if they have the burden.
I can’t overemphasize that there has to be a key person that is willing to invest their life and ministry into the Spanish community. Otherwise, the daughter work will not be successful. Hispanics are social, and mixing with their community is very important to them. They are family and socially-oriented. They like it when the leadership of the church mixes with them on a social level and visits their houses or maybe a soccer game, rather than just seeing them at church. Social interaction is a key to winning them!
I would recommend that those interested in planting a Spanish daughter work research and see where Hispanics are living in their area. Then they should pray for a leader for the group that can work with both the Hispanics and the English pastor. The Spanish leader and English pastor must have a good relationship for this to be successful. The English pastor needs to be willing to spend time to develop and mentor the leader. Once the leader for the Spanish group is found, the pastor also must consider others that can help start the new church, such as musicians and singers to learn the Spanish songs, van drivers, ushers, those that can help with outreach, etc. There needs to be a team that is willing to dedicate time to the Spanish ministry.
Next, they should start knocking on doors to get word out about when and where the first service will take place. We try to set up Bible studies in homes with Hispanics and develop a relationship in the community where they live so they know who we are. We work with training and evangelism for several weeks, and then we set a launch date on the calendar for the first service. There are two or three Saturdays of blitz evangelism where we invite every Hispanic we can. We knock doors, use billboards, place fliers and invitations in laundromats, restaurants, etc. We get the word out anyway we can. We really promote the first service with an open house, meal or refreshments, door prizes, and special music. We want to capture their attention!
After launching the Spanish church, we continue weekly training and helping them in service for the next two to three months. After the church has the ability to continue without us, we transfer leadership completely to them. We then go to the next location and repeat the process.
What are some of the more common mistakes you have seen that have led to unfortunate results? How can these be solved?
In some situations, the English-speaking pastors wanted to start a daughter work, but no one in the congregation shared that burden with them. The pastor is not the only one that has to have the burden. Someone in the congregation has to share the burden that can lead the Spanish group. There have been some situations where the leader didn’t have a good working relationship with the English pastor, so they took the group and started their own church in a different location. And we have also seen where the Spanish leader quits coming to church altogether. You can avoid these problems by having the right person with a burden to reach the Hispanics – someone that is compatible with the English pastor’s style of leadership.
How can you be contacted if a pastor is interested in learning more about starting a Spanish daughter work?
If any pastor is interested, they can call me personally at 318-658-5805. I can add them to my text and email list to notify them of the phone conference each week. There is no cost involved. Or they can contact Bro. Brocc Chavis, Multicultural Ministries, at 314-837-7300.