Weekly Update

Advancing together with ‘en Español’ ministries

Jul 10, 2024

“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.” (Numbers 14:7b-8, NIV)

We continue to be mindful of those in Houston and surrounding areas who were affected by Hurricane Beryl. We pray for comfort, provision and recovery. We also pray for relief efforts by our churches, Texans on Mission (formerly TBM) and other entities to be effective in providing help and an effective witness for Christ.

Speaking of Houston, last week, I had the privilege of preaching in the opening session of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas’ annual meeting in Pearland. Convención leaders, including Executive Director Jesse Rincones and President Sergio Ramos, along with our own director of Texas Baptists en Español, were gracious in recognizing me in my new role and praying over me.

Within Convención’s theme Limitless, I shared a message titled “The Land of the Giants” based on Numbers 13:21–14:9. I stated that when God calls his people to complete a mission, we can respond in one of three ways: We can focus on the size of the obstacles (Numbers 13:31-33), distort the notion of old times (Numbers 14:1-4), or trust in the ability of the overcomer (Numbers 14:5-9).

If we are going to win Texas for Christ, we need to trust in the ability of the overcomer. As we feel surrounded by “giants in the land,” we need to believe that the God who has called us to be on mission is greater than any giant we can face. He can do the impossible through his people when we obey.

Approximately 1,200 of our 5,300 Texas Baptists churches may be identified as Hispanic congregations. Many of these churches worship in Spanish, several have different variations of bilingual ministry and a few function primarily in English. The great majority of them relate “dually” to Texas Baptists and the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas (Convención).

Another segment of “Hispanic congregations” is the growing number of “en Español” ministries. These are Spanish-language worship services and ministries under the umbrella of a primarily Anglo, African American or multicultural church. For example “First Baptist en Español.” The idea is that it is one church offering ministry in multiple languages.

While Hispanic churches may rally around culture and ethnicity, “en Español” congregations focus on the Spanish language as their identity.

Hispanics form the largest population segment in Texas. If we are going to win Texas for Christ, we need to advance together. We need all Hispanic churches committed to evangelism, discipleship and multiplication. We need more “en Español” ministries. We need Texas Baptists churches who are willing to plant Hispanic churches. We need Anglo, African American, Asian and multicultural churches who reach Hispanics in their respective communities. And we need to work in partnership as Texas Baptists, Texas Baptists en Español and Convención.

Texas Baptists and Convención have enjoyed a unique, rich and evolving history of partnership, although Hispanic work in Texas predates the formation of the BGCT. Next week, I will share a brief sketch of that history with you in my Weekly Update. I will be preaching at the annual meeting of the National Baptist Convention of Mexico in Monterrey. The history of these three conventions is closely related.

For now, we affirm our commitment to work together for the sake of the Kingdom. Let us, together, as the people of God, move forward in faith, believing that the one who called us to “occupy the land” with the gospel will provide the power and the resources to accomplish it. We simply need to be obedient and united around His Kingdom Agenda.

Thank you for your partnership. We are better together!

Dr. Guarneri is the 21st executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. He holds degrees from Texas A&M University Kingsville, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Dallas Baptist University. He has more than 39 years of ministerial experience and is passionate about sharing the Gospel with the nations and cross-cultural missions and ministry.