Home Christian News Lifeway Research: U.S. Hispanic Protestant Landscape Full of Growing, Vibrant Churches

Lifeway Research: U.S. Hispanic Protestant Landscape Full of Growing, Vibrant Churches

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Hispanic churches in the United States face unique challenges but are finding success in building community within their congregations and reaching those outside their walls.

Lifeway Research partnered with two dozen denominations and church networks to include what is likely the largest number of Protestant Hispanic congregations in the U.S. ever invited to a single research study. Sponsored by Lifeway Recursos, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, the study surveyed 692 pastors of congregations that are at least 50% Hispanic.

“For decades, the Hispanic population in the U.S. has been growing exponentially, and it is imperative for churches to be informed about the specific needs of this community,” said Giancarlo Montemayor, director of global publishing for Lifeway Recursos. “This study will help us to continue the ongoing conversation of how to serve our brothers and sisters in a more strategic way.”

Congregational snapshot

The study reveals a picture of Hispanic churches that are newer, younger and more effectively evangelistic than the average U.S. Protestant church.

Most Hispanic Protestant churches (54%) have been established since 2000, including 32% founded in 2010 or later. Fewer than 1 in 10 (9%) trace their history prior to 1950.

Not only are the churches relatively new, but most people in the congregations are also new to the United States. The majority are first generation Americans (58%), born outside of the country. A quarter are second generation (24%), with parents who were born outside of the U.S. And 17% were born in the U.S. to parents who were also born in the U.S. As a result, a majority conduct their services only in Spanish (53%), while 22% are bilingual.

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Half of the churches (50%) are in a large metropolitan area with a population of 100,000 or more. Around 3 in 10 (31%) are located in small cities, 9% are in rural areas and 8% are in suburbs.

In the average Hispanic Protestant church, a full third of the congregation (35%) is under the age of 30, including 18% under 18. Another 38% are aged 30-49, and 28% are 50 and older.

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“The growth in the number of Hispanic churches in the U.S. has been remarkable,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “While some of these congregations were started within Anglo churches — 14% of Hispanic congregations in this study currently are conducting services within a church that is predominantly non-Hispanic — the missional impetus has clearly come from within the Hispanic community itself as two-thirds of these congregations are led by first-generation immigrant pastors.”

In U.S. Hispanic Protestant churches, the average worship service attendance is 115. Like most other churches, they’ve not yet fully recovered from the pandemic. In January 2020, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the average attendance was 136. Still, 13% of churches are currently around their pre-pandemic levels. And 32% say they’ve grown in the past three years, despite the pandemic.

Almost every Hispanic Protestant pastor (99%) agrees, including 94% who strongly agree, their congregation considers Scripture the authority for their church and their lives.