Book review: Multilingual Church: Strategies for Making Disciples in All Languages

Multilingual Church: Strategies for Making Disciples in All Languages by Jonathan Downie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book offers a different side of what we call “multiethnic” churches. The idea is that churches where there is a diversity of ethnicities and by implication languages, need to adapt to be able to make disciples of all nations. I have read a few books of becoming a multiethnic church and all of them make English as the dominant language in church services. This book calls for a more balance approach. In other words, using other languages as part of the services and church life. In practice, it is a very difficult task. The churches that try to have a multilanguage service, do so in maximum of two languages and that can be difficult if not chaotic. Obviously, this isn’t easy. The author discusses various types of services, both pros and cons. His context is primarily the UK where there is diversity everywhere.
He also focuses on discipling all ethnicities in their language and not just being multilingual for the sake of being multilingual. He makes a strong case for this, and I agree with him. The focus is on making disciples of all people in the church regardless of ethnicity. How that is done is dependent on each church’s context. There aren’t many churches or studies to find good models.

I currently work in a church and attempting to do this (I have in a previous church as well with some limitations). I work with Hispanics but also coming along side of Ukrainians who are becoming part of our church. We have classes, bible studies, a small group, simultaneous translation and support for our Spanish speakers. We also do simultaneous translation in Russian and hoping to launch a small group in Russian/Ukranian soon. What the church will look like is not up to me, but God will guide us. But the vision in my mind is to have small groups in different languages that reflect our community, services to reach first generation ethnic language speakers, sprinkles of other languages in our services, support in multiple languages for global ministry events (membership, training, etc…), global encounters and diverse staff and involvement in our church life.

This book has helped me affirm our task as the Church of Christ and offered a different perspective from someone in another part of the world that is so diverse. The US is rapidly moving in that direction and as the church we are called to make disciples of all nations (ethnicities).

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Our Sense of Humor

My students used to love
putting my face in characters.
I encouraged it.

I was thinking about my sense of humor. Most people that don’t know me well enough, don’t know that I have a sense of humor. I was thinking about this today. Where did I get this sense of humor? I tried to go back and think who in my family had a sense of humor and I could only think of my mom when she was happy. She didn’t joke around but her expressions and even the few times I saw her dancing or singing was part of this good sense of humor. Sense of humor involves not only being silly, saying silly things or joking. Humor doesn’t have to be crass either. As I thought about it in my life, I couldn’t remember that I had it in my early childhood. As a young adult I liked saying funny things but in a serious way, especially when I taught in front of people. I think it “flourished” when I became a teacher in elementary. I found my audience. We had a lot of fun in the classroom and laughed a lot. My students often described me as funny or that my classroom was fun. I always had a good sense of when to stop and be serious. I was demanding as a teacher, but I believed in having a good sense of humor. This has prevailed in me, though mostly expresses with those close to me, especially my wife and my fourteen-year-old daughter who loves being silly and funny. At times we drive my wife crazy.  But this makes our time together fun. We can look at things and laugh about the silliness of it. We can say things that are funny. Having humor helps us be creative and see life differently. Humor has value.

Recently I heard a comedian say in a speech to recent graduates say “Do not lose your sense of humor…Not enough of life makes sense to survive without humor…you gotta laugh. That is the one thing at the end of your life you will not wish you did less of. Humor is the most powerful, most survival, essential quality you will ever have or need to navigate through the human experience.”

He goes on but asserts again that if they don’t remember anything of his speech, they should remember to not lose their humor. “And Humor”, he says, “Is not for the stress relief or just the simple fun of laughing but for the true perspective of the silliness of all humans and all existence. That’s why you don’t want to lose it.”[1]

This makes sense to me. There’s too much we experience that hurts, makes us sad, disappointed or that we don’t understand. Humor brings relief.

As God’s creatures, we were created in His image and as such we share some of his characteristics. Is humor part of it?  I believe so. I believe that in God’s Kingdom, in the New Heaven and Earth, humor will be part of it. We will laugh together and have a lot of fun. We will have myriads of ways to be funny. There will be times for good silliness. We will enjoy life to the fullest. I’m sure Jesus will join us too.

[1] Jerry Seinfeld commencement address at Duke University’s class of 2024, May 12, 2024.

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Entrevista: Alcanzando con el evangelio a los Hispanos de nuestra Comunidad

En este segmento de la entrevista con Angélica, comparto sobre mi llegada a la Iglesia Canyon Hills y la tarea que tenemos de alcanzar a los hispanos en nuestra comunidad.

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La historia bíblica de Jonás para niños – Segunda parte

La historia bíblica de Jonás para niños. Mi hija de 14 años y un servidor ayudámos a grabar para una escuela bíblica en México de nuestros jóvenes. Espero que la disfruten.

 

 

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Compartiendo sobre mi Trasfondo

El pastor Edgar comparte un poco sobre su vida, su trasfondo, vida y ministerio. Esta es parte de una entrevista más larga en nuestra iglesia Canyon Hills Community Church.

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The cost of following Jesus – Mark 9:31-38

We want to answer the following questions: What does it mean to follow Jesus or be his disciple? What is the cost of following Jesus? What does it involve? Does God want to be willing to die for him or is this passage figurative? The cost of being his disciple involves three key actions from us regardless of the cost.

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TrishTestimony: From nominal Catholic to Jesus Follower

Trish shares how she became a Jesus follower.

 

 

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La historia bíblica de Jonás para niños. Primera parte.

La historia bíblica de Jonás para niños. Mi hija de 14 años y un servidor ayudámos a grabar para una escuela bíblica en México de nuestros jóvenes. Espero que la disfruten.

 

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Book Review: Latino Protestants in America: Growing and Diverse by Mark T. Mulder

Latino Protestants in America: Growing and DiverseLatino Protestants in America: Growing and Diverse by Mark T. Mulder

This is a great book though a bit outdated on Hispanic demographics (up to 2016 or 2017 when book was published. Much has changed since then) but this is understandable, but it is totally worth reading. It is based on a qualitative study of 20 or so Protestant churches of various denominations. It gives an overview of the characteristics of Latino Protestants in the United States and how they are different compared to Catholic and Hispanics in general. They content that not much research has been done on this particular demographic which is growing and expected to grow. Much of the attention nowadays is on Latinos in general, especially politically but not on how Protestants are growing and diverse. They assert that there is a lot of research that needs to be done and give a list of questions that need to be explored. One aspect of interest to me that they mention but hasn’t been studied is Protestants within an American English-speaking church. This is what I have been doing for the last 9 years and there is not much available in how to integrate Hispanics into the English-speaking churches. In the years to come, it will be more common, and churches will have to learn to adapt, and Latinos will also adapt, as the authors assert. They will bring “Latinidad” to the churches. These Hispanics will not express their culture “native to their ancestral cultures” but will be a blend of both cultures. I believe this will be a demographic that will the growing force of the Latino Protestants in America. It is coming.

Here are the chapter titles with some of my annotations:

1. Latino Protestants are More Than “Not Catholic”. There is more to it. They are redefining themselves.

2. The Early History of Indigenous and Immigrant Latino Protestants. This is very fascinating because it deals with Protestants during this time not just history.

3. The Latino Reformation Today. It deals with why Latinos are leaving the Catholic Church and how they are joining Protestant churches. Protestants also are more likely to move up in economic status.

4. Ethnic Identity and Varieties of Latino Protestant Churches. Protestant churches are very different, there many denominations. Charismatic or Pentecostals are the fastest growing.

5. The Centrality of “Doing Church” among Latino Protestants. Latinos don’t worship all the same, having a big fiesta. This is a wrong assumption. Many of them are becoming more “mainstream” (my words). They enjoy much of the current worship and not necessarily need to be in a liturgical church (the authors say this can be confusing). Protestants (not part of mainline denominations) attend church more often than Catholics or mainline Protestants.

6. Latino Protestants and Their Political Engagement. Latinos are not all Democrats but most are but they hold traditional values. It is kind of paradoxical. My opinion is that they are more driven by their “existential” status more than their convictions. I believe this will change though. They believe (62%) that they should be engaged in political issues.

7. Latino Protestants and the Future of American Christianity. The authors ask questions that need to be researched and answered.

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How to be a Good and Wise Friend (Selected Proverbs)

The word “friend” in Proverbs has a positive idea, not a negative one. However, Proverbs gives us guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to friendships. It teaches us as much as having and being good friends. It also shows us why we should have wise friends and avoid those who are not.

This is what we will study in the book of Proverbs. In addition to this, we will look at how our Lord Jesus Christ is THE example of the best friend we should have in our lives and imitate.

 

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