Church Goes ‘All-in’ to Reach Latinos

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.”

08_4Cs_Eastside_sign_JNFor 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.

www.eastside.com

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3 Comments

  1. August 8, 2013 at 1:27 am

    Concerning this article in the Christian Standard featuring the new Hispanic ministry at the Eastside Christian MEGA-Church in Anaheim, CA. Don’t be fulled by the typical mega-church hype. The Hispanic “pastor” Hector Hermosillo is a celebrity host for the Spanish version of the 700 Club, a regular featured program on Pat Robertson’s CBN channel. Hector’s bio states that he is the founder of the Semilla de Mostaza (Mustard Seed) group of mega-churches (http://www.semillaonline.org/), a Chrismatic movement that is one of the promoters of the prosperity gospel and the false revival. As far as we know, Hector does not have a formal theological training, and his higher education was in the music field only. He and his brother Heriberto played for the international pop star Luis Miguel before “converting” to Christianity, and later formed the Christian band Torre Fuerte along with Luis Miguel’s former drummer Alvaro Lopez. Any illusions that Eastside Christian Church may have of “owning” this Hispanic church is naive at best. There is an ongoing trend among Hispanic “Christian” celebs to promote themselves by associating with various high-profile ministries. One of the latest has been Dante Gebel and his association with the Crystal Cathedral. http://www.eastside.com/ministries/weekend-experience/semilla-eastside/

  2. August 9, 2013 at 3:20 am

    It is true that brother Hermosillo´s background is not in the Stone-Campbell Movement, but he is delighted to become one of us. He is humble enough to look for guidance and is eagerly researching our beliefs and practices. He is no Charismatic or Pentecostal. He does not preach the Prosperity Gospel, on the contrary, he has a genuine passion to help the poor Latino immigrants of Anaheim and its surroundings. And yes, he is a celebrity accustomed to be in front of multitudes, but he is a humble man of God. We welcome him in our fellowship.

  3. August 9, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Christian Standard needs to change the timing of the posts from a.m. to p.m. People will think I am awake at 3:20am writing opinions on your page. That´s weird, haha.

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