Spanish-speaking churches across the United States that only offer services in Spanish are beginning to add more English services for the newer generations. Adding English could mean a hybrid service that provides Spanish to English translation, or it could take the form of two services, one for English and one for Spanish.
New Language Services Ensure the Survival of the Church
The thousands of Spanish-speaking churches in America are widening their services because more of their congregation speaks English, but also because if they don’t, then there might not be a congregation left in a few years. Some of the younger generations can follow along with the services in Spanish as well as English with no problem, but they connect to the religion better in English.
Many of the young church attendees associate the Spanish services with their parent’s faith, not their own faith. Because of this, more Spanish-speaking churches are adopting a dual service model of worship and teaching, like the Iglesia de Cristo en Sunset in Southern Florida.
The church has continued to grow over the years, but they also experienced a reduction recently in the number of youths who chose to attend the church. Many of the youths said that they wanted a service in English, so that they could connect better, and many were leaving because of the language issues. In order to keep young people in the church, the leaders decided to integrate an English service.
However, instead of providing Spanish translation during the service, the church has two separate services. It’s difficult to find people who can give a compelling sermon in two different languages, and sometimes the sermons come out differently for two different cultures, so the dual model often works best.
Getting Both Services to Intermingle Has Been Difficult
The Sunset Church of Christ, or Iglesia de Cristo en Sunset, does not provide Spanish translation services for the different groups. Rather, they have split the congregation into Spanish and English-speaking sections, and simply provide language services individually.
This method, however, has created a divide between the members of the church, and the church leaders are now trying different ways to help the groups interact with each other.
The split was primarily because older members of the church did not want to attend any of the English activities and preferred to have their services alone. Now, both services flip-flop their teaching and worship time, so that in between each session, the groups intermingle over coffee and donuts. This seems to be helping the relationships inside the congregation grow.