Hispanic Pentecostal ministry in greater Grand Rapids : balancing calling and training toward a sustainable and healthy ministry
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Leadership styles, worship, and liturgy of the Hispanic Pentecostal congregations are shaped by their rich, diverse cultural background. While they offer a welcoming and familiar community to migrating families, there seems to be a disconnect with the context in which they are serving. Pastors and leaders of these immigrant congregations face real challenges: from limitations with the English language to lack of true access to resources and opportunities, from disconnection with local government officials and other agencies to the necessary skill sets to properly engage and impact their communities. It has been my observation throughout the years involved with Hispanic Pentecostal congregations in Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan, the tremendous amount of work devoted to reaching out and ministering to those migrating to our communities from over twenty Spanish speaking countries of the American continent.
If these pastors of the fastest-growing religious tradition and the fastest-growing minority group in Western Michigan are making such an impact for the kingdom, I imagine the greater work they’d be able to do when they become better equipped and trained on unfamiliar yet significant educational programs.
I have interviewed 10 Hispanic Pentecostal pastors that participated in a two-year certificate program and discovered how this training enhanced their ministries, prepared them to serve their communities better, and experienced the power of collaborative efforts. Their confidence level raised and positioned them to embrace other opportunities and seek continued education.
I have concluded that when barriers are removed and true access is available, Hispanic Pentecostal pastors will embrace education because they understand the power of knowledge and training. Also, institutions should rethink curriculums, methodologies, and hospitality to better adapt to these pastors’ needs and to make it possible for them to stay engaged. Both academic institutions and Hispanic Pentecostal leaders ought to move more toward each other.