Businesses have figured out that the Hispanic buying power represents a new market opportunity. They are developing new strategies, products, marketing messages, and hiring Hispanic personnel to help encourage Hispanics to visit their stores or to purchase their products. Businesses have looked at a growing market and have determined to have a strategy to meet the needs of the Hispanics.
One in seven persons in the USA is Hispanic. In 2006, 90 percent of the students in the Fort Worth independent school district were Hispanic. There are now 200 Hispanic national magazines, more than three hundred local Hispanic newspapers, and continued growth in Hispanic radio, television, and cable stations in the US. Hispanics represent a growing group of people who need to hear the message of Jesus Christ. Our student ministries must be ready to respond to the need of Hispanics in our communities.
What Do I Need to Know about Hispanic Students?
Three groupings represent Hispanic youth. First-generation Hispanic youth were born or have parents who were born in another country. They prefer to speak Spanish, listen to Spanish radio, and watch Spanish television. They share their culture with their parents and have strong ties to their parents’ home country.
Second-generation Hispanics are bridge builders. They speak English and Spanish. They interpret for their parents. They value the culture of their parents as well as their new American culture. They get caught in the middle of both worlds.
Third generation Hispanics can be referred to as assimilated youth. These students speak fluent English and may struggle to speak Spanish. They share mainstream American values.
The key to understanding these three groups is to remember that they have relatives in all three groups. Churches wanting to reach Hispanics will develop ministries for all generations.
What Are Critical Needs and Strategies for Reaching Hispanic Youth?
Youth ministries that want to reach Hispanics will help Hispanic students improve academically. Hispanics students have a 48% failure rate in relation to graduation from high school. Churches must help Hispanic parents engage the academic school system.
A second critical issue involves the lack of skills for success in college. Academic success depends on the ability to learn. Families must also be engaged in understanding their roles in the academic process.
How Will Hispanic Growth Impact My Student Ministry?
Your student ministry will NOT be impacted unless you learn how to reach Hispanic youth and their families. Working with Hispanic students means multigenerational ministry. You will need to learn to read the culture signals sent by the various generations of Hispanic students and their families. You will need to be extremely connected to those in your church who minister to preschoolers, children, adults, and senior adults.
Reaching Hispanics calls for a cohesive ministry plan that includes focusing on the entire family. Your youth and church ministry will change as you plan strategies to implement when Spanish-speaking relatives attend your church. Your ministry will change because you will intentionally enlist and train bilingual/bicultural youth workers. Your interns may also be bilingual to help you build bridges to the Hispanic community.
You will change because you will learn to share the plan of salvation in Spanish. You will learn to speak Spanish and engage the church in your efforts. You will become an advocate for Hispanics and their needs. You will help Hispanics know they are welcome.
Your youth ministry will change because it will become global. Reaching Hispanics for Christ in your community generally results in relatives making decisions in other countries. You can reach Hispanic youth and their families and watch their families help you build a church with a heart for the Hispanic community.