Texas Baptists have a rich history and heritage of ministry with and to Hispanics in Texas and an intentional effort to work with Hispanic churches to reach the lost. The Texas Baptists Office of Hispanic Ministries (OHM) has been a powerful instrument in connecting with local Hispanic congregations, with the purpose to impact God’s kingdom. As the state continues to change, a renewed effort for Texas Baptists to reach Hispanics has been launched as Texas Baptists en Español.
“Texas Baptists en Español is not just a rebranding of the Hispanic Office but is a way of accomplishing a concerted effort in reaching Hispanics in Texas for Christ,” said Lorenzo Pena, director of Cultural Engagement. “It enables Hispanic Baptist leaders and Texas Baptist Hispanic staff to come together to develop a new road map that Texas Baptists can use over the next three years to refocus efforts in assisting Hispanic Texas Baptists churches to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.”
Peña, Rolando Rodriguez, director of Hispanic Ministries, and a team of Hispanic leaders spent the last year evaluating the best ways to adapt and change ministry strategies to be proactive in impacting the Hispanic population with the Gospel through Texas Baptists en Español. They spent time reviewing “Vision 2000,” a strategic plan to reach Hispanics in Texas written and developed by a Hispanic Task Force of convention staff in 1991. Almost 30 years later, many of the key areas of emphasis were reaffirmed and the document helped guide the revisioning process.
The result of the prayers and listening sessions was an intentional focus to rebrand the OHM as Texas Baptists en Español. Emphasis was placed on eight areas, discipleship, evangelism, church starting, reaching the next generation, leadership development, missions, education, and church health and revitalization.
Rodriguez outlined several goals for the new initiative to minister to and reach Hispanics in Texas. He sees Texas Baptists en Español as an opportunity to promote unity, fellowship, purpose and clarity. It will allow for more focused and concentrated efforts towards funding. All services, events and training opportunities for Hispanic churches will be centralized through a quarterly news journal, the Texas Baptists en Español Advisory Council, a monthly e-newsletter and collaboration with the 40 Hispanic Baptist fellowship presidents. Additionally, more Hispanic churches will be planted and Texas Baptists en Español will work in conjunction with Texas Baptists’ leadership to advance the initiative to reach the growing Hispanic population in Texas and across the nation.
“We felt that we needed to reflect our collaboration with the local church to continue reaching the Hispanic population that continues to expand in numbers,” said Rodriguez. “We have planned this transition from OHM to Texas Baptists en Español by inviting a group of 30 vital leaders that includes presidents of compañerismos, statewide pastors and BGCT staff, using different surveys and strategies such as nine listening sessions throughout the state with the purpose of discovering the top needs in our Hispanic churches.”
“I am excited about the Texas Baptists en Español vision and direction for this time and the year to come, and also for the great opportunity I have to be part of it. I can’t wait to see what the Lord has for us in the near future and years ahead. We as a church are blessed to be part of Texas Baptists,” said Martin Ortega Sr., senior pastor of Iglesia Bautista Emanuel of Midland.
Texas Baptists en Español will officially launch during the 2020 Texas Baptist Annual Meeting, which will be a virtual event held over several days. The grand opening of Texas Baptists en Español will be Friday, Nov. 13. Several workshops and a worship service will be held on Sat., Nov. 14. Then, on Sun., Nov. 15, a virtual launch of Texas Baptists en Español will take place, where Rodriguez will present the strategic plan for the new initiative.
“Texas Baptists en Español is Texas Baptists taking responsibility for the 1,100+ Hispanic churches affiliated with BGCT,” said Rodriguez. “Texas Baptists en Español will have a more holistic vision and strategy to mobilize Hispanic Baptists around the state with the purpose of transforming Texas with the Gospel of Christ.”
Texas Baptists en Español exists to connect by encouraging, informing, and collaborating with the Hispanic Baptist Churches aligned with Texas Baptists to reach the goals the Lord gave them. Our goal is to assist the congregation in their ministries by contextualizing the wide variety of services and ministries available through Texas Baptists. Together we can celebrate the advancement of the Kingdom through the local church.
According to Dr. Daniel Sanchez, distinguished professor of Missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, in his book Hispanic Realities Impacting America, “the growth of the Hispanic population has exceeded even the boldest expectations of demographic experts. Between 1950 and 2008, the Hispanic population grew from 4 million to 45.5 million. By the year 2014, the Hispanic population grew to 55 million.”
Just in Texas, the Hispanic population grew by more than 2 million in the last decade, according to new population estimates released by the U.S Census Bureau. Texas has drastically changed in the last 50 years and will continue to do so. Through Texas Baptists en Español, the convention is excited about a renewed effort to reach the ever-growing population.