NASHVILLE, Tenn. Feb. 7, 2019 /Discipleship Ministries/ – Research led by Discipleship Ministries is underway to support the creation of vibrant new United Methodist ministries for young Latinos in the United States who typically are not religiously affiliated.
The Sentido project, which is also supported by the UMC’s National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, is an effort to understand second and third generation Latinos by directly engaging them, building relationships and collaborating to create vibrant and innovative experiences.
“Better understanding the needs and experiences of our young and growing Latino population, especially those who currently are not part of a religious setting, is a powerful way for our denomination to see all the people outside of the walls of our churches,” said the Rev. Junius B. Dotson, General Secretary (CEO) of Discipleship Ministries. “The Sentido project research is going to inform the ministry of The United Methodist Church for years to come.”
The research report, which is due to be completed this spring, will be published online at www.sentidoseekers.org. The research hopefully will inspire future work on strategies, resources and tools to equip and support leaders in their communities to create vibrant ministries to reach Latino young adults.
The Pew Research Center says six in 10 Latinos in the United States are millennials or younger (born since 1981). Latinos are becoming the nation’s fastest growing nonreligious segment and represent less than 1 percent of UMC’s membership. Pew Research estimates Latinos will make up 29 percent of the U.S. population by 2050.
“For our church to successfully reach out to young Latinos who primarily are religiously unaffiliated, it is vitally important for us to understand what they are interested in – what kinds of things bring them fulfillment, what they enjoy and where they find meaning in life,” Dotson said.
Sentido, a Spanish word with multiple English definitions including meaning, direction, heartfelt and sense, was chosen for the project’s name because it incorporates ideas that researchers seek to discover, like how young Latinos are finding meaning outside of the church. To understand more, research also is looking at other ideas, such as what the nonmaterial needs of young Latinos are and what kinds of things they look for as they figure out life.
In addition to interviews with young Latinos across the nation, the researchers are talking with pastors, professors, leaders of nonprofit and for-profit organizations, young professionals, young adults within and outside of the church, college students, religious leaders, annual conference and denominational leaders, partner agencies, seminary leaders, youth ministry leaders and parents of young adults.
“The goal of this initial research is to develop a set of guiding principles for successful ministry creation for young Latinos,” said the Rev. Dr. Bener Agtarap, Executive Director, Community Engagement & Church Planting/Path1. “This project will enrich our denomination’s knowledge base of a key audience and allow our leaders to apply that information within their own contexts.”
The mission of Discipleship Ministries is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. An agency of The United Methodist Church, Discipleship Ministries is located at 1908 Grand Ave. in Nashville, Tenn. For more information, visit www.UMCdiscipleship.org, the Press Center at www.UMCdiscipleship.org/about/press-center or call the Communications Office at (877) 899-2780, Ext. 1726.