by José Manuel De Urquidi
Did you know that at least 63% of Catholics under 18 and more than half of those in their twenties in the US are Hispanic?
Just to give you a sense of the reality: Latinos are responsible the Church has still roughly a quarter of American Catholics this year, the same as it was in the 70s. If the Church wasn´t becoming more Latino, two Christian churches would be bigger.
But at the same time, the harsh truth is that even though every year more Catholics are Latino, also every year less Latinos are Catholic. Yes, thousands of Latinos are leaving the Church to the “nones”, to other religions and to Christian denominations every year.
What are we really doing to attract Latinos? To connect with them as a Church? They are not only the future but the present, gen Z and millennials in the Church right now are mostly Latinos today. But a lot of stereotypes, myths and ignorance surrounds what will very soon be the biggest part of the Church in our country.
Let´s bust some myths and stereotypes regarding Latinos
1. Latinos don´t get involved with their community
According to a MassMutual study 78% of Latinos say being involved with their community is very important for their well being and almost ½ of them say they are community leaders. So if they are not engaged with your parish or ministry it might be time for some review and adjusting.
2. Latinos don´t give money to charity
The Hispanic community contributes a larger share of their wealth to charity according to the Urban Institute. So why is your organization, parish or diocese not addressing them during the whole year and connecting with them so when the time comes they want to donate? The stats also show Latinos are not asked as frequently as others for donations. Stereotypes again!
3. Latinos are not entrepreneurs and business owners
They are starting businesses 50 times more than any demography according to a the Georgetown Public Policy Review and almost 30% of the business growth for the last 5 years in the US is Latino owned. This can definitely change some notions and factor in on how you approach them!
4. Latinos don´t use smartphones
Studies from Google and Nielsen have found they are the most avid users in the States. So no, you don´t have to focus all your energy in all the traditional ways you are “extremely sure” can attract Latinos.
5. Latinos don´t use social media
The most active of all ethnic groups on social media in the US are Hispanics at 72% according to a CNN study. What are you doing in the online world? And please don´t say you are translating every post and checking the box this way.
6. Latinos don´t buy digital
According to Google they buy apps and digital media 1.5x more than non Latinos, so yes, they can consume and pay for something, of course only if it really speaks to them 😛
7. Latinos don´t listen to podcasts
Podcasting is soon becoming a billion dollar industry and according to the Latino Podcast Listener Report just released the summer of 2020, Latinos are essential to the sustained growth of podcast listening and are growing at a higher rate that non Latinos.
And the following assumptions are widespread:
8. Only some organizations, dioceses, ministries and companies should focus on Latinos
“It´s a niche segment, it´s a minority, let only those who have a mission to serve Latinos serve them, we will focus on our missions which is with Catholics in the US.” The majority of millennials and centennials in the Church are already Latinos, and the 42% of Latinos in the Church as a whole in the US right now is Latinos and will very soon become the majority.
So no, we shouldn´t let only some organizations minister to Latinos since they are already the biggest chunk of the Church (do you know the % of Catholic Anglos, African-American or Asians?), that would be irresponsible and short sighted!
9. Let the Hispanic Ministry take care of all the Latino´s needs
Speak with a Hispanic Ministry director and they will most probably tell you they are under-funded, under-staffed and overwhelmed. Latinos are not a niche or just a segment of the Church, in a lot of parts they are already the vast majority of Catholics and in others they will be very soon.
Evangelizing, forming and serving Latinos should be a transversal strategy since Latinos are “embedded” in every part and aspect of the Church. Hispanic Ministries don´t have the bandwidth to cover every aspect needed to minister Latinos!
Do this stereotypes and myths sound familiar to the point of becoming “standards” when planning and budgeting?
Reality is different! What needs to change is how Latinos in the Church are approached! Hint: It´s not about just translating your website, social media and programs word by word.
Whether you are ready or not, reality doesn´t change: Latinos are the majority of Gen Z and millennials in the Church and will very soon comprise more than half of Catholics in the US.
We should´ve started years or even decades ago but the reality is that TOMORROW IS TO LATE, let´s start planning today!
Now that the myths have been busted, what are you going to do in 2021 to connect with Latinos?
Here´s a simple and concrete way to start: Share the Juan Diego Network´s podcasts and the events with and for Latinos or go straight ahead and contact JDN to determine the best and most efficient ways your organization can really connect and attract Latinos in 2021.
Attracting and connecting with Latinos is not about “getting ahead of the curve”, it´s about jumping in to today´s reality in the Church!
(Another version of this article can be found in Catholic Link´s website)