Español | In a previous post I made the observation that current demographic trends in the US have almost literally brought the mission field to the doorsteps of many LCMS congregations. I emphasized the tremendous opportunity these demographics have created for so many of our congregations to share the mercy of Christ with neighbors who may be living disconnected from Jesus and His church.
Current demographic trends also suggest – at the very least statistically speaking – that the biggest of these opportunities is among the US Hispanic community. Although in recent years the growth rate of the Hispanic/Latino population has experienced a slight decrease, the group continues to grow, now constituting 17% of the total population (that’s 55 million habitants!). According to current projections, 1 in 3 people in the United States will be of Hispanic origin by the year 2060.
Where places of demographic homogeneity exist, God may some day place other groups of people and oblige Christians to take on a new perspective. – Mission from the Cross: The Lutheran Theology of Mission, 212.
It was in response to this tremendous opportunity to share the love of Christ in word and deed in the Hispanic/Latino community that the Center for Hispanic Studies (CHS) was established at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting several CHS students while they were here on campus for their advanced homiletics course with Dr. Rudy Blank. These seminarians are part of an intense program of pastoral training that is conducted through both distance education and residential intensives. It was a true pleasure to meet this group of men, practice my Spanish with them, and receive God’s gifts together at a bilingual celebration of the Divine Service.
Hispanic pastors and deaconesses in the LCMS have a lot to teach the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Not only do they serve as missionaries in the front lines of the new mission frontier among the Hispanic community in the US, but they also serve as a bridge between mostly white/Anglo congregations and the Hispanic/Latino communities that surround them.
These servants of Christ and His Word know what it is to handle two different worlds – two cultures, two languages, and two worldviews – something our congregations, pastors, and leaders will need to learn to emulate in order to take advantage of the tremendous opportunity that current demographic trends present us for the proclamation of the Gospel.