Reaching Second Generation Americans

Vida Abundante Baptist Church in Saugus, MA, was started 25 years ago by Brazilian immigrants. But as families have grown up and the second generation of immigrants has gotten older, the Portuguese-language church services have become difficult for many young people to understand.

Pastor Roberto de Sousa and the leaders at Vida Abundante have seen teenagers and young adults grow up in a Christian atmosphere then leave their faith behind. They simply aren’t able to connect to God or to others because of the language barrier.

The language that you use to talk to God is the language that you should use to read the Bible and listen to preaching.
— Roberto de Sousa

A similar exodus from the church is taking place in most ethnic churches, and pastors are scrambling for ways to reach the second generation. Vida Abundante has decided to start a new service for younger people who feel more comfortable speaking English.

“The language that you use to talk to God is the language that you should use to read the Bible and listen to preaching,” de Sousa says.

De Sousa hopes to start concurrent Portuguese and English services, encouraging young people to continue to attend churches with their families. And offering English ministries will give the church an opportunity to connect with the broader community. Adapting can be difficult, but it is necessary for churches to continue to grow and thrive.

“Most of the [ethnic] churches, if they don’t cross that bridge, if they don’t change, they will die,” de Sousa says.

But resources are needed to start an entirely new ministry. Vida Abundante will need to rent extra space in the commercial complex where they meet, purchase new furniture and equipment, even find new volunteers.

A portion of your gifts to the New England Mission Emphasis will help Vida Abundante purchase a new sound system and other ministry tools so they can move forward in their plans to help the second generation of Brazilian immigrants – and the broader community – connect to Christ in their heart language.

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