Author Archives: Tim Archer

Self-identifying as Hispanic (or not)

Pew Research published an article yesterday with the title “Key facts about young Latinos, one of the nation’s fastest-growing populations.” One interesting data point they noted was

About 14% of Americans ages 18 to 35 with Hispanic ancestry do not identify as Hispanic. The share who do not self-identify as Hispanic rises to about 25% among third-generation young adults with Hispanic ancestry. Among the fourth generation or higher – the U.S. born with both parents and all four grandparents born in the U.S. – more than half (56%) of young adults with Hispanic ancestry do not self-identify as Hispanic.

If you think about it, this is pretty logical. My great-grandmother was born in Germany, but I don’t identify as German. Carolina’s grandmother was born in Spain, but Carolina doesn’t call herself Spanish. There are some ethnic groups that seek to hold onto their ethnicity generation after generation, but most don’t.

This has major implications for our Hispanic outreach, namely that some people that we consider to be Hispanic may not consider themselves to be Hispanic. I remember my classmate Conrad Lopez. He was incensed in 7th grade when they put him into the heritage Spanish class “with all those Mexicans.” He in no way identified with the Hispanic ethnic group.

Just because someone “looks Hispanic” or has a surname that sounds Hispanic doesn’t mean that you should direct them to a Spanish-speaking Bible class. We need to be sensitive and let people choose the ministries that best fit their needs.

Discomfort zone

The other day I presented some thoughts on how uncomfortable growth can be. Then this week I asked some about your thoughts on Hispanic outreach. I want to combine those ideas a bit.

It’s not easy to reach out to others across cultural and linguistic barriers. One problem I see is that we frequently want to do this outreach from our comfort zone. In Hispanic ministry, this often comes in the form of outsourcing the work. Rather than trying to reach out to those unlike us, we hire someone to come in and do it for us. We can sit back and wait for the “hired gun” to bring people in to where we are; that keeps us from having to go out!

In order to avoid change, we often set up “separate but equal” church structures for Hispanics. Let them meet over there, out of sight, out of hearing. Don’t bring Spanish into our assembly, nor include it in our bulletin. And please don’t make us have bilingual services!

If we truly want to reach others, we’re going to have to step into the discomfort zone. (This goes equally for Hispanics and non-Hispanics) If we’re going to be the church that God wants us to be, we’ve got to put the interests of others ahead of our own. We’ve got to be willing to give up what’s comfortable in order to achieve what’s needed.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5–11)

Links To Go (September 12, 2018)

Teens Would Rather Text Their Friends Than Talk to Them in Person

But teens also seem to be a bit more savvy online than adults may give them credit for: 72% of those surveyed said they believe tech companies manipulate users to spend more time on their devices. And for as much hand-wringing as adults do over the amount of time teens spend on their phones, they’re looking right back across the void. A full 33% of those surveyed said they wished their parents would spend less time using their devices.

Fidget spinners, weighted blankets, and the rise of anxiety consumerism

Here is the truth that goes largely unspoken in the growing space where capitalism meets mental health: None of it actually solves the underlying problem, even if it helps assuage the symptoms.

Is Social Justice a Gospel Issue?

As in so many controversies, we must be quicker to define our terms than to define our opponents. No doubt, there are real disagreements worth exploring and exposing. But there also may be more agreement than some might initially imagine.
Depending on our definitions, social justice and the gospel may be miles apart, or they may be as close as loving God by obeying his commands (John 14:15).

Jesus’ Controversial Approach to Food and Eating

This Supper we celebrate today is a way to remember the ways Jesus approached eating.
He welcomes all to this meal, even those who believe they’re too sinful. Are we willing to receive God’s welcome even if we feel unrighteous? Are we longing for those we consider unrighteous to join this meal with us?

Eight Differences between Church Giving and Church Dues

The attitudes in which church members gave were easily divided into two categories: church giving and church dues. In simplest term, church giving is an act where the member lets go of the funds with no reservations. He or she truly gives the money to God through the church. Church dues, though, have strings attached. They are not as much gifts as they are membership dues to receive certain rights and perks.

Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Reopens, 20 Years After War And Bad Blood

Some analysts have compared the events to fall of the Berlin Wall, NPR’s Eyder Peralta reported. Families that were separated on either side of the border are finally able to reconnect.

Meet the other empty nesters. They’re dogs and they miss the kids, too

Terri Bright, director of behavior services at MSPCA-Angell , said that not only do dogs “absolutely” miss people, but a depressed dog acts like a person who’s down.
They don’t eat as much. They sleep more. They’re not as enthusiastic. “They seem sad, but they can’t tell us,” she said.

How do we reach out to our Hispanic neighbors?

I’m preparing a class for the Harding Lectures on “Reaching My Hispanic Neighbor Next Door.” It was an assigned topic, but one I’m happy to address.

I’ve written about this topic a number of times; sometimes I’ve gotten feedback on why outreach to Hispanics should be different from other types of outreach. Here are some random thoughts:

  • Language plays a big part. But not in the way that a lot of people think. According to Pew Hispanic, 69% of Hispanics are proficient in English.* The use of Spanish is more about identity than functionality. Still, it matters.
  • Culture also has a huge role. It’s hard for me to speak to other immigrant groups, for I haven’t spent much time around them. But the large number of Latinos in the U.S. makes it easy for them to live in virtual isolation from the mainstream community. (And while we tend to lump Latinos into one basket, they don’t see themselves that way. Salvadorans recognize a commonality with Mexicans, yet also recognize great differences. They identify themselves as being from a certain country, just as most of us would do when living overseas. In Argentina, I knew people from Canada and Great Britain, and I knew that would were all English-speaking expatriates, but I didn’t view as as a single group.)
  • There is a major difference between Latinos who have grown up in the States (and are typically part of the mainstream culture) and those who have come as immigrants. We have to be sensitive to differences between the groups. Just because someone is of Hispanic heritage, they don’t necessarily listen to tejano music or want to worship in Spanish.
  • Our churches have to be intentional about making inroads into immigrant communities; that’s not something that happens naturally.
  • With heritage Hispanics, we need to recognize the strong family and culture ties that may hinder their coming to “an Anglo church.”

Random thoughts for a Tuesday morning. What would you disagree with? What would you add?

*Facts on U.S. Latinos, 2015

Links To Go (September 10, 2018)

Runs in the Family

“If you would have told me to pick who my father was, there’s no way I would have picked him because I might have thought I wasn’t worthy for him to be my father,” McCullough says. “I felt like my blessings came full circle because I’d always wanted to be somebody like him.”

The Bible Condemns American Slavery

It is very important for Christians to be able to say this clearly: American slavery is clearly condemned by the Bible, without equivocation or qualification. The Bible is a perfect book in the sense that it contains all that is necessary for life and godliness, and this includes all of the ethical information needed to navigate the cultural complexities of this world in a way that honors both Christ and the image of God in man. The Bible does not condone American slavery and it certainly does not regulate it. It forbids it.

Is It God’s Will to Always Heal?

Think about the logic of this view. If you just had enough faith, then you would be healed. But you are not healed; therefore, you must not have enough faith.
Do you see how debilitating this idea is? Not only is the sick person’s body failing, but—on this view—so is his faith.
Now let me say it as plainly as I can: If you believe it is God’s will to always heal in this life, then you have misunderstood the Bible and you have a false view of God.

“But The Good News Is . . .”

As I write this post, these thoughts make me want to consider the impact I have on others in conversations. I don’t want to leave someone’s presence with them feeling even more burdened and troubled than before the conversation.

Hidden Gems

Do we expect that Sunday school teachers should have a degree? Should only professionals distribute communion? Does a deacon need to wear a suit and tie? If you’re looking to train up someone to preach, why is the lawyer in your congregation any more qualified than the plumber? Could somebody with a history of drug abuse be your next worship leader?

A solution to stalled

When a project appears to be in limbo, in a permanent holding pattern, where sunk costs meet opportunity costs, where no one can figure out what to do…
Cancel it.
Cancel it with a week’s notice.

Many Facebook users don’t understand how the site’s news feed works

But a new Pew Research Center survey finds that notable shares of Facebook users ages 18 and older lack a clear understanding of how the site’s news feed operates, feel ordinary users have little control over what appears there, and have not actively tried to influence the content the feed delivers to them.

Want to Be as Productive as Possible? Try the Pomodoro Technique

The concept is this: When you sit down to complete a task, set a timer for 25 minutes. Work on that single task continuously for that time period, without pausing for interruptions or breaks—which means no Facebook, no email, and no trips to the bathroom. If you have a thought you need to return to, just write it down, then keep working. When that 25 minutes is up, give yourself a five-minute break. You did it! If you can, complete this cycle four times, then take a longer break of 30 or so minutes.

25 Brilliant Life Hacks You Need to Try

These life hacks will help you clean, cook, organize, and just live more efficiently.

Thoughtful American Airlines Captain Delivers 40 Pizzas to Stranded Passengers

American Airlines Flight 2354 from Los Angeles to Dallas-Fort Worth was rerouted to Wichita Falls on Thursday after thunderstorms hit the area, leaving 159 people stuck until the next day.
That’s when when the plane’s captain decided to order 40 boxes of Papa Johns and deliver it to passengers himself.