Padre Alberto on Preaching the Latino gospel in the US

The Rev. Alberto Cutié has written an article for CNN on preaching the Latino gospel. He writes:

As a Latino who has worked with diverse Latino communities for years, I’ve seen more evidence that points to four core values that influence every aspect of life, including church or religious affiliation.

La familia: Above all else, Latinos expect churches to offer programs to enhance their marriages and families – activities that will strengthen the spiritual and overall welfare of all things family. It is equally important to remember that for most people in this demographic, family is also a lot more than the nuclear family – it also includes grandparents and others.

La fe: When it comes to religious faith, Latinos seek symbols, religious language, expressions of popular piety, basic doctrines, biblical teachings and a practical understanding of their relationship with God. They want to understand church as a community they can belong to, not just as an “institution.” That explains why Latinos are embracing non-traditional forms of Christianity and new religious expressions at a faster rate than other minorities.

Tradiciones: Folklore, food and cultural customs are very much part of the Latino ethos and everyday life. Special holidays and even birthday celebrations – like the popular debutante ball, the Quincieañera, which is often initiated by a blessing or full service at a church – are among the traditions that are most revered and continue to be honored among Latinos. All of these celebrations have their own unique rituals, food, music and styles, depending what region of Latin America or the Caribbean the particular community comes from. Invite God and spirituality into them.

Servicio: Latinos like to get involved and be hands-on. If a church building needs to be painted, if something needs to be fixed or if there’s a need for fundraising, they are often the first to volunteer their time and resources. But Latinos are not accustomed to making generous weekly contributions to their houses of worship because of cultural practices and government-supported churches in many Latin American countries. The mentality is often “The church will always be there,” and it is a real challenge for religious leaders to teach the American concept of regular and consistent giving and tithing to one’s religious community.

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