Samuel Rodriguez: The Latino Challenge

“Any outreach to the Hispanic community must be intentional and institutionalized. It can’t be tokenistic.”

The most successful pastors are the ones who focus on the Hispanic canopy rather than fragmenting the community. At our church, every single year we celebrate the Mexican culture. We have one Sunday where we celebrate Central America, one Sunday where we celebrate South America, one Sunday where we celebrate the Caribbean, and of course on July 4, we celebrate our great American culture. So it’s appealing to the different cultural segments without fragmenting or segregating.

The immigration debate since 2006 has made it more difficult for Anglo-American churches to successfully reach out to the Hispanic demographic. Many in the Latino community feel that white evangelicals have issues with Hispanics. I know that’s not accurate, but nevertheless, it’s perception. What needs to happen is white evangelical churches need to go beyond politics and get involved with the prophetic. Our call is not to be the extension of the federal government as it pertains to immigration laws. Our call is to preach the Gospel to all people.

—As told to Nadra Kareem Nittle

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2012 issue of Outreach magazine.

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