One of the greatest challenges in reaching Hispanics is their diversity. Let me explain. When we speak of diversity we are talking of more than just subtle differences in dialect. We need to consider things like country of origin and diversity in language. For example, when considering first generation Hispanics, over 70% will speak Spanish as their dominant language. However, by the third generation over 70% will use English as their dominant language. Basically, the first and the third generations are opposite with regard to the use of the language. This means that if we are developing a strategy to reach Hispanics, we will have to take the language differences of the first and third generations into consideration.
Another factor to consider is what sociologists call “Acculturation”, which is “a change in the cultural behavior and thinking of a person or group of people through contact with another culture”. The diversity that is created by the various stages of acculturation presents a real challenge for evangelism and church planting efforts among Hispanics, because some will move faster through the assimilation process than others. I have some friends that have been in this country for over 25 years, yet they have not moved through the assimilation process at all, more by choice than anything else.
Although it might be subtle in nature, the socio-economic diversity also presents some hurdles. There are marked differences in income between the foreign-born and the native-born segments of the Hispanic population.
Diversity has significant implications for the ministry churches might provide as they reach out and disciple Hispanics. Take the time to meet and learn about the Hispanic people you are trying to reach. It will be time well spent for building an effective ministry