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Soaring Hispanic population growth prompts vision for 10,000 churches

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Glowing brass lighthouses scattered across tables at the fourth annual Hispanic Church Planters Network Celebration served as focal points in casting a vision for 10,000 ethnic Hispanic churches by 2020.

“Can it be done? Must it be done?” asked Dennis Mitchell, director of the church multiplication team of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board. Mitchell challenged more than 200 participants at the June 11 celebration at Crescent City Baptist Church in New Orleans prior to the SBC’s June 12-13 annual meeting.

Citing current population trends showing explosive growth among Hispanics, Mitchell noted the need for 10,000 congregations by 2020 just to keep pace with the current ratio of one Hispanic church for every 5,800 churches. Currently there are nearly 2,100 Hispanic churches among the 41,000 churches in the SBC.

“If it’s going to be done, you’ll have to lead,” Mitchell said. “We are fighting for the hearts and minds of the people.”

Richard Harris, vice president of NAMB’s church planting group, said three men from the Bible represent three principles for planting churches.

“Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord because he was obedient,” Harris said. “Don’t miss the principle — God said to do it and Noah said yes to God — whatever the task, whatever the challenge.”

While Noah said “yes” to God, Daniel said “no” to the world, Harris said. In challenging a decree to eat rich food, Daniel held fast and refused.

“Daniel refused to compromise his person,” Harris said, asking participants whether they compromise in worship, tithing, attendance, devotions or relationships.

“You can also compromise by fanning the controversy of politics in the convention or in the body of Christ,” Harris said. “We are not going to reach people in large numbers unless we say ‘yes’ to God to not defile the body or compromise worship.”

Job said he would trust God despite the circumstances, Harris said. He watched everything he had disappear and in spite of it all trusted God.

“That’s the task and that’s the challenge,” Harris said. “It is in your hands.”

Bobby Sena, manager of the church multiplication team’s Hispanic unit and host for the evening’s activities, presented two new church planting tools developed by NAMB: a Hispanic Church Planters New Testament and a guidebook, “Seven Steps to Planting Churches.”

Gonzalo Rodriguez, pastor of Good Shepherd Hispanic Church in Metairie, La., was recognized for coordinating activities related to the June 11 celebration as well as the June 9-10 meeting of the SBC National Hispanic Baptist Fellowship.

During the evening’s celebration, music was provided by Primera Praise from the First Hispanic Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas; Rios de Aqua Viva, First Hispanic Baptist Church of Marietta, Ga.; and Grupo de Alabanza y Adoracion, Good Shepherd Hispanic Church, Metairie, La.
William Tua & Eduardo DeCampo provided translation for this article. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: MEETING THE MUSIC MINISTERS.

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  • Joni B. Hannigan