Rapid Hispanic Church Growth.
We are here to assist pastors Hispanic churches in the USA and Latin America to fulfill the great commission and the great commandment in the context of the uniqueness of their own local situation.
God is Moving in Hispanic Churches
For many decades churches in the USA have for good reason considered Latin America to be in revival. It now appears that this is spilling over into the USA among the Hispanic population.
According to Time Magazine (April 04, 2013) Latino evangelicals are one of the fastest growing segments of America’s churchgoing millions. Pastor Wilfredo De Jesús, leads the 17,000-strong New Life Covenant Church in Chicago. It is now the largest Assemblies of God church in the nation.
The fastest growing segment of The Assemblies of God denomination in the USA is made up of Hispanic congregations.
In The Assemblies of God USA from 2001 to 2015, the number of white adherents decreased by 1.6% and the number of non-white adherents increased by 76.8%. The fastest growing segment of this particular denomination is made up of the Hispanic congregations.
Some successful Mexican churches are now sending missionaries to plant Spanish speaking congregations in the USA. Some of these pastors may themselves not speak English proficiently. In the states near the border with Mexico the percentage of new immigrants who speak predominantly Spanish is significant. It might be expected that the new immigrants would bring their receptiveness to the gospel with them. Conversations with Hispanic church planters in the Houston area (who also have experience as pastors in Mexico) reveal that the situation in the USA may be very different from back home in Mexico. It appears that some Hispanic church plants that target Spanish speaking, first generation immigrants are struggling.
Even when pastors succeed in planting a Spanish speaking church inevitably they face a new problem. Nearly every Hispanic church that starts out as a Spanish speaking congregation will deal with the eventual transition to an English speaking congregation. This is often seen first among the teens of the congregation.
They attend English speaking schools, have English speaking friends, and may have jobs that require English (though the ability to speak Spanish can be a real asset when working with Hispanic customers). The exposure of these teens to Spanish may be primarily limited to home and church. They may have a reluctance to invite their friends to visit their church if the service is in Spanish.
These young people may leave their home church to find an English speaking congregation. In the case of the Chicago church mentioned earlier in the Time Magazine article, New Life Covenant Church, in the year 2000 just 100 people attended the church, and all were “Spanish-speakers”. By 2013 the church had four campuses and nine of its 11 services were in English.
There are many churches in the USA made up of primarily Hispanics where the congregation speaks little or no Spanish. Typically these successful congregations still maintain a cultural distinctive that reflects their Hispanic roots and are networked with other Hispanic churches.
Woodbridge Project's Purpose
It is the purpose of Woodbridge Project to help Hispanic congregations in the USA to overcome the obstacles they face in the US culture, demographics and economic environment.
While it might appear that the Woodbridge Project is primarily positioned to assist Anglo churches, the founder Don Calvin has a compelling love for Hispanic people and has been involved with a number of Hispanic churches in the USA, Nicaragua and Mexico. In many of these relationships Don is the primary beneficiary of the relationship by virtue of the privilege of being involved where the Spirit of God is working.
The church which Don pastored for 20 years has funded the planting of over a dozen new churches in Nicaragua through the Surge Project. (www.surgeproject.com)
Don is currently working mainly behind the scenes to assist Pastors Hugo and Mayra Navarette in the launch of a new Hispanic congregation called Real Life en Español (https://youtu.be/rE9QxF75cY8) which launched in January of 2017 AD. This congregation was started under the sponsorship of Real Life Church (Sr. Pastor Steve Owens), a predominantly English-speaking congregation in Tomball, Texas, where Don and his wife attend. (http://myreallife.com)
Don has spoken to Hispanic leaders, pastors and congregations in Nicaragua and Mexico primarily through an interpreter.
More recently with the help of his tutor Horacio Pedraza of the Texas School of Languages (www.texasschooloflanguages.com ) Don has translated some teaching materials into Spanish. He has shared some of these with groups at Real Life en Español.
The 21 Day Prayer and Fasting Journal available through the Woodbridge Project was translated into Spanish by Victor and Angela Benitez of los Centros de Fe, Esperanza y Amor in Nicaragua and has been shared with three Hispanic congregations in Houston and one other in Mexico. (21 Días de Oracion y Ayuno)
The Woodbridge Project resources for a weekend retreat to experience God were based on materials originally received from the Bethany Church in Baton Rouge,La (www.bethany.com), but they were greatly enhanced by participating in retreats (Boot Camps) with an Hispanic church, Harvest Assembly of God (www.harvestsaginaw.org ) in Saginaw, Michigan (Sr. Pastor Jerry Flores).