By Jennifer Johnson
Many congregations start Spanish-language services, but few go “all-in” like Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim, CA.
“Our mission is to reach 1 percent of the 5.8 million people within a 20-mile radius of our building,” says communications director Jan Lynn. “A third or more of these people are Latino, so we needed to be intentional about creating new ways to serve them and share Jesus.”
For Eastside, that’s “Semilla@Eastside,” a new service held each Sunday at 2 p.m. Hector Hermosillo serves as the new pastor for the initiative, and works closely with the rest of the staff to plan each element of the experience.
“We’re not just giving them a room and a microphone,” Lynn says. “We’re entering this as a full partnership, which means involving Hector’s team in weekend planning, social media, guest services, and more. The service is in the main auditorium with the same tech team, lighting, and visuals as the other services.”
This approach means the Latino attendees feel valued and welcome—some were surprised and pleased to discover their service would be in the “big” auditorium—but also means planning and prep work is much more complex.
“We do all the service planning as one big team, but not everything from the English-language services works,” Lynn says. “So there might be different videos, songs, or tech plans.”
The team is learning as they go.
“We have translators stationed with the tech crew because if you don’t speak Spanish, you don’t always know how to phrase the words to songs on the screen,” she says. “We’ve learned we need someone who knows the language to cue the ushers when it’s time to collect the offering. After we finished our first mailer about the service, I had several Spanish-speakers nicely volunteer to help me the next time!”
The new service kicked off with almost 800 people on Easter Sunday.