An Emerging Pentecost?

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : February 12, 2008

From USA Today (HT: Michael Kruse)…

The U.S. population will soar to 438 million by 2050 and the Hispanic population will triple, according to projections released Monday by the Pew Research Center.

The latest projections by the non-partisan research group are higher than government estimates to date and paint a portrait of an America dramatically different from today’s.

…Even if immigration is limited, Hispanics’ share of the population will increase because they have higher birth rates than the overall population. That’s largely because Hispanic immigrants are younger than the nation’s aging baby boom population. By 2030, all 79 million boomers will be at least 65 and the elderly will grow faster than any other age group.

The report predicts that in 2050, 19% of the US population will be foreign-born and 29% of the population will be “Hispanic” (with 47% being White, 13% being Black, and 9% being Asian).

I keep beating this drum, but this is a changing reality that we must anticipate in our ecclesiology. I know the emerging church isn’t simply a group of white-dude intellectuals, but I don’t see significant discussion about this. Most denominations and groups aren’t engaging this reality either, except in those areas that have had a large latino population for decades.

And, whether we like it or not, when one talks about latinos and faith, one must grapple with Pentecostalism and Catholicism–and the particular ways in which latinos embrace these traditions.

At Pentecost, people from all over the known world were united together by the Spirit of God. It was a reversal of the Tower of Babel. If the emerging movements that we are experiencing today are to be faithful to the Spirit of God, we need an emerging Pentecost–a great ingathering of diverse voices coming together as to witness the new thing the Spirit of God is doing in our land.  

What am I suggesting? Well, I have some scattered ideas I want to toss out at you. And I would love it if you could comment and also add some scattered ideas of your own. Let’s get generative here:

  •  I would love for Spanish-language articles to be posted on Jesus Manifesto. I’m going to look into finding a way to have a little toggle image that lets people choose what language they read in. Sure, there will be some odd translation issues, but if more and more articles are written in Spanish, I’m more than happy to try to figure out an inadequate translation of it into English–it is worth the effort. Of course, if anyone wants to volunteer their translation abilities, I’d love that too :)
  • I am eager to post anything that anyone wants to write about how we can learn from latino cultures in our doing of theology or our doing of church.
  • I’m wondering if any of you have any stories you can share (positive or negative) about anglo/latino engagement within church or culture.
  • How does the changing landscape of USAmerica make you all feel?
  • For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been working (not as much as I’d like) on a book called “the Jesus Manifesto.” I also have a follow-up book in my mind called “the Subversive Spirit.” That book would be a contemporary exploration of pneumatology from a practitioner’s perspective. And I would love to have it be something I edit, rather than something I write all by myself. If you are interested in contributing to such a project, let me know. I want it to explore global Christian perspectives, Pentecostalism, etc with a strong emphasis on praxis and community. My hope is that this book would help alleviate the lack of reflection about pneumatology within the emerging church in particular, but within the USAmerican context in general.

for further reading . . .

  • None Found


11 Responses to “An Emerging Pentecost?”

  1. mountainguy on February 12th, 2008 2:22 pm

    well, it seems I’ll have to write something I’m not living in northamerica (maybe in 6-7 months I’ll be living near Toronto), but I’m a latin, I have black hair and black eyes, my mother tongue is spanish, and I have some ideas in my mind to write a post (My PC isn’t working that good, but doesn’t seem to be its premature death).


  2. mattk on February 12th, 2008 2:49 pm


    I’d be glad to help out with some translations. Just let me know.

    The first socially-conscious church I encountered was the Catholic parish I attended while living in Buenos Aires for 6 months. The depth and breadth of their service to the community–starting with food, clothing, and shelter, but extending to medical care, legal services, tutoring, financial help, and numerous others–really amazed, admonished, and encouraged me.


  3. Michael Cline on February 12th, 2008 3:54 pm

    Love to contribute whatever I can. Not much experience with Latino cultures, but I did spend a month in Haiti. The conversations about the Spirit there were quite interesting, considering the influence of Voodoo throughout the country.

    I’d also help you out with any editing or writing you are doing. But you know that already.

  4. Heather W. Reichgott on February 12th, 2008 4:46 pm

    Hello from a frequent reader and infrequent commenter! :)

    I’m sure that if you leave comments on Spanish-language bloggers’ blogs that interest you, inviting them to guest-post here, you’ll get some responses. I don’t know if I’ve seen very many who identify as part of the Emerging Church ™ but there’s certainly a lot out there on theology, church life, new-monastic type groups, anarchism and other stuff you’ll probably be interested in.

    Cheers, Heather

  5. Brandon Rhodes on February 13th, 2008 12:47 am

    I agree, it’s going to be crucial that tomorrow’s church anticipate this flux today. I for one can’t wait! :)

    And as a lifelong charismatic turned Submergent, I’d love to contribute or listen in on the exciting possibilities of “Subversive Spirit”.

  6. Interesting Stuff 9 « Missio Dei on February 13th, 2008 11:59 am

    [...] Van Steenwyk asks some really good questions about population mix and how we do ministry when the mix is really [...]

  7. mountainguy on February 13th, 2008 7:46 pm

    I’d like to help with translations to spanish.

  8. jason77 on February 13th, 2008 7:57 pm

    babel fish is a widget that translates your whole site for you but am not sure if its still around

  9. Casey Ochs on February 13th, 2008 9:14 pm

    The church my wife and I attended prior to joining Missio Dei had a Latino congregation affiliated with it. I was on the church board and my wife and I led bilingual worship once a month. For what they’re worth, here are some observations.

    1.Undocumented immigrants were a real challenge for the church.
    2.Many of the immigrants had left behind husbands, wives or children in their home countries. This complicated family ministry and created a unique set of problems.
    3.In order for the Anglo and Latino members to work together, there had to be a number of persons who were bilingual. Communication, always a problem in churches, is even more critical with different cultures and languages.
    4.Some Central Americans in our congregation came from a particular, established evangelical culture, not always in-sync with the theology or culture of our church.
    5.Worship among the Latinos was more vibrant, and experiential than that of the Anglos.
    6.There was resistance from some of the Anglos about having “Hispanics” or Hispanic ministry in the church. Some Anglos left.

    From my experience, persons coming from developing countries (not just Latin America) are generally more aware of the spiritual world than North Americans. We tend to view faith and “reality” thru the lenses of rationalism and intellectualism.

  10. JoshuaEllens on February 14th, 2008 2:42 am

    I’m very interested in this shift. I am eager for the day that the US becomes more or less a bilingual country. I also desperately want the church to experience a significant shift away from it’s ethno-centered theology. My wife is from Lima, Peru, and eventually we are planning to move there to pursue Kingdom-development. I long for Latin-American Christians to experience and embrace the radical Jesus Christ, but at the same time i am very cautious not to force-feed them my own anglo-centric ways of seeing things. I hope this is something we can begin to explore already here in the US.

    by the way, i’m fairly fluent in Spanish in general and would be willing to help with translating in any way i can [though my vocabulary is lacking in the theology department].

  11. Mark Dixon on February 23rd, 2008 4:59 pm

    I am nowhere near fluent enough to do translations, but I totally agree with the concept. If language barriers keep others away from the revolution, it’s time to break down the walls. Let me offer as encouragement a little prayer I learned from friends at the Catholic Worker who speak Spanish far better than I:

    Cordero de Dios, que quitas el pecado del mundo, ten piedad de nosotros y danos la paz.

    Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us and give us peace.

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