While Hispanics have always had a significant presence in our country (our first Navy Admiral was of Spanish descent), Hispanics have been the subject of increased attention in recent years, especially after the 2011 Census data named them the largest and fastest-growing minority group. The Hispanic population is expected to triple to almost 133 million by 2050, and will jump from 16 percent to 30 percent of the U.S. population.
With presence comes influence. Hispanic growth — and the increase in cultural influence — is manifesting itself within the evangelical church. A growing number of Hispanics identify themselves as evangelicals. Ninety-nine percent of Latinos who profess religious faith identify as Christian, and 39 percent of those use the terms “born again” or “evangelical” to describe themselves.
The Hispanic evangelical church has traditionally focused its influence inwardly, on personal discipline and spiritual growth. But, as our position in American culture gains prominence, the Hispanic evangelical church is learning to exert its influence externally, with a focus on outreach, impact and engaging in legislative advocacy. As evangelicals, our engagement with the public sphere will follow the same growth pattern evident in the rest of the population, as we begin to understand the power of the modern church as a place to exercise our influence on the issues most important to us.