Who could have imagined what God would do when an English-language church started a Bible study cell in Spanish?
The Spanish-language group grew until it became a church. It continued to grow until it became one of the largest-attendance churches in the city of Orlando, Florida. Today, 30 years later, an entire generation of first-generation Hispanic immigrants have found Christ through this pioneering church named Iglesia El Calvario (Calvary Church), a member of the Assembly of God.
But what about their children who may prefer English? They value their Hispanic heritage but want a more English-friendly environment, which they also feel will help them reach more of their friends for Christ.
Enter New Birth, the English ministry of El Calvario. This church-within-a-church was launched in 2007. Today some 4,500 adults and children are part of the two churches in one. Here’s a glimpse of what a typical Sunday looks like:
– 9:00am, all-Spanish worship, led by Founding and Senior Pastor Nino Gonzalez, roughly 800 adults and children on campus
– 11:00am, bilingual service, led by Pastor Nino Gonzalez (Spanish) with Pastor Gabby Mejia (translating into English), roughly 3,100 adults and children on campus
– 1:00pm, all-English “New Birth” worship, led by Pastor Nino Gonzalez (Spanish) with Pastor Gabby Mejia, roughly 600 adults and children on campus
New Birth may be the smaller service today, but it is growing with huge potential. In 2012 it reported 206 conversions and 115 baptisms. Pastor Gabby came to El Calvario as youth pastor in 2001. Today he has two titles: Senior Associate Pastor to El Calvario and Senior Pastor of New Birth.
The story doesn’t end there. New Life has been involved in planting churches – two of them, and in Spanish. So the cycle continues.
What Do You Think?
The El Calvario/New Life story very much represents one of the fastest-growing segments of America today: Hispanic/Latino churches that include major ministry to a population that prefers English, typically a second generation of Hispanics/Latinos.
Know of other churches like them? Please tell us by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in attending a one-day forum for large-church Hispanic/Latino senior pastors serving an increasingly English-preferred community? Go to www.leadnet.org/forum2013.
Interested in other articles and facts about the rising tide of U.S. Hispanic/Latino churches? Go to www.leadnet.org/hispanic.