TO: Discernment Committee of the Central Association of the CT Conference
RE: What is the most important issue confronting the church today?
There are a number of ways to answer this question depending on one’s perspective. If I answered from the perspective of an established long-existing congregation the answer would likely have to do with declining numbers based on a lack of retention of youth and young families, declining monetary contributions (tithes, offerings, endowments), and/or deaths of elderly congregants.
But based on my perspective as a member of an underrepresented minority group, I would say our issues are dependent upon geographical location, though they all lead back to lack of funds. Latino churches in areas that are dependent upon agricultural or non-skilled laborers often times find that their members are typically interim migrant/immigrant workers who do not have an opportunity to set deep roots within these communities. They often leave prior to officially becoming members of a congregation though, often times, the congregation has become a part of their family and suffers through the pain of their loss. Additionally, language plays a role in causing confusion in our churches, as families that have set roots in our communities have children who are best able to express themselves in English, while often times, Latino migrant/immigrant workers “GODspeak” solely in Spanish and their children, upon joining an English speaking church/ministry, or children’s ministry are timid and hesitant to participate and if they participate at all, these children often lose out on spiritual growth opportunities as they are best able to express themselves in Spanish.
For us, there is the additional responsibility/burden that comes from dealing with an under educated population. Many times our congregants who arrive from different faith backgrounds have: never learned to do their own biblical research, to have personal bible time, or to have a conversation that is not based on what they have previously been taught, though they are faithful God seekers, they have never been taught to how to seek Him outside the Sunday service or traditional lecture mode Bible studies.