Steve Nicholson and Homero Garcia are Vineyard pastors who have started La Viña ministries. They’re sharing the stories of starting those ministries and some tips they have for beginning a La Viña Service in your church.
About six years ago we had about 30 people in one month call our church to ask what time our Spanish speaking service was. We didn’t have one, but we thought perhaps God was trying to tell us something. We started the first year as an experiment. I figured just the personal growth for the folks taking the lead would make it a success no matter what.
Over time, we added more of the infrastructure and events normal for church life. Now it’s an important part of our overall church. We have a regular and vital Spanish-speaking congregation that has grown to nearly 200 people.
When we came to the US to study, my wife and I started to look for a church. We visited a Vineyard church and fell in love with it. We joined the church and served in a ministry of delivering food to poor in our community. We invited the people we met to come to the church. Some of them attended but didn’t understand any English. My wife and I invited our pastor over for dinner at our house to discuss this problem. While we were having dinner, he said to me, “Why don’t you start a church?” I said “Yes.” And then he said, “Why don’t you start this Sunday?” For some reason, I agreed. So the next Sunday, my wife and I started the Spanish speaking service.
Here are some of the things we learned about starting this type of service:
The easiest way to begin is to start a Sunday service at the same time and in the same building as the English service, with the children from both services in one kid’s program. This allows the new congregation to have a good children’s ministry from day one with little additional effort. Also, the Sunday morning time slot is still the easiest for the most people to access.
We have preachers from the wider church preach with translation in the Spanish service at least once or twice a quarter, which helps to unify the church and give the Spanish speaker preachers a rest.
Twice a year we do a completely bi-lingual, both congregations together, baptism service. The mix of worship styles and the shared stories of lives redeemed is a high point of the year for everyone.
Pray for God to send someone. Jesus said in Matthew 9:37-38 ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to the harvest. Our mother church prayed for 5 years for Latino pastors. God heard their prayers. He sent us from Mexico to Mundelein, Illinois to plant a La Viña there. He can do the same for you.
Provide translation in Spanish at your Sunday services. It is not that expensive. All you need is a transmitter, some FM radios, a microphone, and a good translator.
Throw parties to attract Latinos from your community. They like to party a lot!
Serve your Latino community by providing for them food, clothing, ESL classes, after school programs, a soccer league, etc. Build relationships with them is the first step to win them for Christ.
The are many benefits of having a Spanish-speaking congregation. It allows us to reach a rapidly growing population that is very open to the gospel. It enriches the cultural and faith experience of the wider congregation. It increases the opportunity for people to lead and serve, especially those who speak Spanish. It allows multi-generational families with a mix of English and Spanish speakers to become a part of one church with no one being left out. If you have some leaders fluent in Spanish and a city with a good number of Spanish-speaking people you can and should consider if God is leading you to do this.
If you’re interested in starting the conversation about having a La Viña service, you can learn even more about it here.