Most attendees at the Miami-based Turning Point Church are Latino, but that’s where the similarities end.
Some have lived in America all their lives, while others recently moved to the U.S. from places like Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela. A portion of its 500 worshipers speak Spanish fluently, while others prefer English. Even couples have their differences, such as the wife who was born in Kentucky and her husband, who was born and raised in Cuba.
“It’s like a big melting pot, and we try to reflect that to everybody to feel welcome,” says Co-Pastor Noel Lozano. “We have five pastors. The only way to do something like this is when you work in teams. I came from Cuba when I was 19 years old. Jorge came from Venezuela when he was 9. … We have another pastor from Minnesota who’s pure Anglo—he doesn’t know how to speak Spanish. At the same time another of our pastors came from Cuba and doesn’t speak too much English. We have people who reflect everybody and can give you a different point of view.”
To that end, the 4-year-old Turning Point launched its “1WorshipUnidos” two years ago, a Sunday experience that’s a hybrid between English and Spanish-speaking services.
The first hour is essentially a complete service in English, then another wave of congregants arrives and there’s about 30 minutes of bilingual activities, in which announcements, baptisms, music, parishioner greetings and communion take place. Then, those who took part in the English service typically depart, while later arrivals stay for a service in Spanish. Translation equipment is available throughout.
Much of the worship music has a salsa and Latin quality, although leaders try to include traditional hymns, too.
Sermons are also tailored to the crowd. (The challenge of diversity is even illustrated in the way different groups talk about sports: older, first-generation immigrants like to talk soccer in Spanish, while the younger, third-generation crowd usually prefers English and football.)
It’s tough, pastors say—they are doing things twice all the time. But it’s worth it, they add. Their ranks continue to swell, they recently planted a second location in Little Havana, and they launched a capital campaign to build a permanent home.
“There aren’t many churches doing multigenerational, multilingual equally,” says Co-Pastor Jorge Rodriguez. “We have become a hybrid church like the one Paul talks about, becoming all things to all people.”
TURNING POINT CHURCH Miami
Lead Pastors: Noel Lozano and Jorge Rodriguez
Affiliation: Southern Baptist