The Church that Reaches Samerica[1] will be the Prevailing Church Reach

Multi-colored appleThis article first appeared at The Immigration Alliance website, and is posted here with permission of the author.

“You are Peter and on the rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matt 16:18

Are we that church that will not fail?

I believe with all my heart and soul that the Church will be victorious. Regardless of our stumblings we are the bride of Christ! This is one of the hills I am willing to die on or rather live to see. If you believe in the church, it is a great time to be alive! When I read that verse it excites a calvanistic side of me…God is sovereign! It evokes to me prophetic hope, ordained destiny, victory and above all adventure. As a churchman it evokes an Arminian shadow side of me that believes in free will. It begs the question, will we choose to be that church that will not fail![2]

Ordained Destiny: They came, they groped, they found Him Acts 17:26-27.

In 1992 The New York Times[3] announced that salsa had surpassed ketchup as the number one condiment. That was over two decades ago. In 2018 Taco Bell was voted the best Mexican food restaurant in the country[4]. But to most Latinos both of these issues got less than a moments laugh. What is notable is that big business sees the manifest future of these customers. The Census Bureau has been projecting the demographic transformation of America since way back when ketchup was still king. Our school systems with a political mandate that does not allow denial have been the front lines of welcoming and educating these future Samaricans.[5]

While America is turning to salsa, Hispanics are also changing. “In 2018-19, 47% of Latinos identified as Catholic, down from 57% a decade ago.”[6] That 10% change does not equal 10% turning to evangelicalism. According to Christianity Today article in 2014, “In 2010, 12 per cent of Hispanics were members of Protestant congregations, in 2013 that number reached 22 per cent, with most of them being Evangelical Protestants.”[7] But there is much more to reach out for because 18% of Hispanic are now choosing no religious affiliation even though they are highly spiritual people. This questioning of past faith paradigms is true of all immigrants in general including Muslim. It is foreshadowed in Acts 17:26-27

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us”

Migration shakes old paradigms and beliefs that were sustained by national and cultural structures. The above studies point out the facts of the case. But not all immigrants come here with no evangelistic life. Many are coming from South America and Central America where there are immense revivals in process. From an African in Fargo to a Venezuelan in Odessa, Texas I could give you stories that would make the hair on the back of your head stand up.

Immigrants Impact the Evangelical Church.

  1. According to the Church Planting Leadership Forum Hispanics plant many churches with less resources than any other group.

  2. Immigrants vicariously remind us why we once were alive with religious zeal as they live out their faith without all the superstructure of budget, building and training.

  3. They reignite our passion for evangelism as they lead person to person to the Lord blowing away the lion-in-the-street mentality we have developed.

  4. They expand in significant ways the save vision we have as a church as they start reaching neighbors in our neighborhood we never imagined were there and were interested in Christ.

  5. They can reach people groups we consider unreachable like Muslims, Buddhist or other language speakers.

  6. They challenge our own slanted doctrinal views. I’m not talking about Calvinism or Arminianism. I’m talking about a theology that filters out our American political, socionomic and entrenched entitlement views.[8]

  7. They remind us what the church is really supposed to be…Jesus transforming lives. Lives that transform communities. The cycle of the great commandment and great commission resulting in the great community.[9]

The Evangelical church is significantly reaching out to these and all nationalities of immigrants. That is the case despite the narrative the media offers of evangelicals uncaring.[10] [11] Evangelical denominations who invite, welcome and empower immigrants make themselves part of that church that will not fail.

When we can wrap our spiritual mind around the fact that we are not the mission, when we can understand that we have not fulfilled our missionary duty by sending missionaries to the ends of the earth, when we can reach the different people near by…we have become the church that rocks…a church that withstands the affronts of the devil. Not only with salsa but with love.

Footnotes:

[1] A term coined by myself to seeks to recalibrate missiology stuck in the past where missions were “over there.” Samerica acknowledges that America is home to immigrants that constitute a large percentage of immigrants. According to the Joshua Project there are 82 unreached people groups here in America.

[2] Just to preempt labeling me one of the other. I am a Calvinist on that point. Or a Yogi Bear when asked which fork to take at the fork in the road…both. I have a great God who is incomprehensible.

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/11/garden/new-mainstream-hot-dogs-apple-pie-and-salsa.html

[4] https://theharrispoll.com/taco-bell-is-americas-favorite-mexican-restaurant/

[5] For me Samerican’s are not just Hispanics even if they are 70% if the immigrant population.

[6] https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/us-latinos-longer-majority-catholic-66856012

[7]https://www.christiantoday.com/article/us-hispanics-are-leaving-catholic-churches-for-evangelical-ones/37287.htm

[8] Settle down on the entitlement word. What I’m talking about is that we think that because we are the church and America is a Christian nation we are due a free ride on taxes, exemption, cultural deference…R.E.S.P.C.T. Friends the sooner we realize we lost the cultural war the sooner we can get back on mission and win this nation. I am not a defeatist. We have not lost all yet we better get on board with what the Lord wants here or we will lost it all.

[9] https://www.efca.org/blog/all-people/gc3-great-commandment-great-commission-great-community

[10] The media continues to pitch the narrative that Evangelicals are anti-immigrant while ignoring large segments of evangelicals working for immigrants such as Immigrant Hope of the Evangelical Free Church and The Immigration Alliance.

[11]What Is Our Responsibility Toward the Immigrant? How Immigrant Hope heeds the call to care for the poor and oppressed Ben Johnson September 28, 2018 https://www.efca.org/blog/making-disciples/what-our-responsibility-toward-immigrant