ALPHARETTA, GA (BP)–A national Hispanic task force created by the North American Mission Board has submitted a report recommending a wide range of new resources, conferences and training to help Southern Baptists share the Gospel with one of the fastest-growing people groups in the United States and Canada.
“We are grateful to NAMB President Dr. Bob Reccord for recognizing the urgent need for this study and for commissioning and supporting us in our work,” said Daniel Sanchez, chairman of the task force and professor of missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I’m appreciative for the task force members who gave so much time and excellence to this work, and am proud and encouraged by the report we have produced,” Sanchez said. “The task force is confident it will help Southern Baptists move forward quickly and in a mighty way to reach even more effectively the millions of Hispanics in the United States and Canada who do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Reccord announced creation of the 15-member task force last October to help NAMB “determine the needs, concerns and dreams of our Hispanic Baptist churches.” He said they have done their work well.
“I have never seen this kind of passion, dedication and excellence focused on such a huge project in so short a period of time,” Reccord said after reviewing the task force report. “Everyone at the North American Mission Board is grateful for the commitment and contribution of each task force member. Only eternity will know the significance of their work as we study it carefully and implement it effectively.”
The task force began its work last November, meeting three times over the winter. The final 36-page report was submitted to Reccord along with a 22-page report by Sanchez titled, “21st Century Hispanic Realities.” Sanchez’ 10 “realities” are based on the most recent governmental and academic studies of the impact of the Hispanic population in North America. Sanchez calls them “realities” rather than trends, because “they are already in progress and not just factors that are projected to take place in the future.”
The realities document the growth of Hispanics nationally and in Canada and analyzes various aspects of both first and second Hispanic generations, including their use of Spanish and English, receptiveness to the Gospel, conservative social values and their diversity. The full realities report is available for review and download from NAMB’s website, www.namb.net.
The task force report provides recommendations for each of four areas of ministry to Hispanics — five recommendations for evangelizing Hispanics, nine for starting new Hispanic SBC churches, five for penetrating the Hispanic culture and five related to identifying and training Hispanic church leaders.
The evangelism work group recommended setting a goal of increasing baptisms of Hispanics by 35 percent through a North America-wide Hispanic evangelistic and media effort, a consultation on Hispanic evangelism and production of new culturally relevant personal, public and ministry-based evangelism methods.
The church planting subgroup recommended a goal of starting 250 new Hispanic SBC congregations each year through 2010. The report asks NAMB to serve as a catalyst for a North American consultation on Hispanic church planting, as well as help enlist more churches to sponsor new Hispanic church starts, and discover and train pastors for the new churches.
The report also recommends enlistment and training of more laypeople, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic, in reaching unchurched Hispanics in their communities and in the marketplace. The penetrating the culture work group also recommended NAMB provide Acts 1:8 Challenge materials in Spanish and build a Spanish website.
Leadership development also was identified as a primary need in Hispanic communities. The report strongly emphasized the urgent need to train more Hispanics in leadership skills that undergird efforts in evangelism and church planting.
Reccord said an internal executive team led by Carlos Ferrer, NAMB’s chief financial officer and a native of Cuba, already has begun implementation of several of the recommendations and would provide periodic updates to the task force and the Hispanic constituencies throughout the Southern Baptist Convention. An executive summary of the task force is available at www.namb.net for download.