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.
Approximately 50% of BCNE churches in Greater Boston are ethnic churches. And God is at work among them. In fact, some of the largest churches in Boston happen to be Asian, African-American and Haitian! Very impressively, most of the pioneers who planted these churches did so without the benefits of special training, financial support or church partnerships that many church planters receive today. Ethnic churches in Greater Boston are robust, and continue to multiply. I love attending the worship gatherings and enjoy having fellowship with the gifted pastors who lead these churches. Yet there is a unique, life-or-death challenge that virtually every ethnic church pastor faces: the challenge of reaching second-generation Americans.
I think in two languages. Sometimes I even forget what language I’m speaking. The truth is, I feel most comfortable when I can switch between the two. Many children of immigrants face this “neither here nor there” sensation—we don’t fit in fully with American culture, but we are also different from our parents with their international roots.
For 10 years I served as the pastor of a church in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. It was an historic church, located in an affluent neighborhood where military families and federal employees lived. And it was almost completely Caucasian. The neighborhood, however, gradually changed. Different ethnic groups moved in and church attendance began to decline.