BURLESON—The histories of First Baptist Church of Burleson and the community it serves are intertwined. The congregation is writing a new chapter in that history now, as it seeks to minister among the city’s fast-growing Hispanic population.
First Baptist Church en Español started three years ago, when First Baptist’s Hispanic mission joined as a part of the established congregation.
“For a while, we were the only Hispanic congregation in the area,” Pastor Jonathan Colón said.
Working within the structure of a long-established church provided the Hispanic congregation the resources, framework and space to thrive, he noted.
Because of what First Baptist Church was able to provide, First Baptist Church en Español was able to concentrate immediately on missions and evangelism.
“We simply were able to focus on the things we needed to focus on,” Colón said.
This year, First Baptist Church Burleson en Español will minister in five countries, he noted.
Investing in the future
The decision to bring the Hispanic congregation into First Baptist Church took a lot of time and consideration, said Christopher Cass, executive pastor. Even so, he remembered clearly seeing how the church needed to invest in that ministry soon after he first came to Burleson three years ago.
Now First Baptist Church counts the Hispanic congregation as its most successful ministry, and that means the church must invest in it, Cass said.
“That may be financial, but it may also be resource and equipping, or the English-speaking congregation volunteering more in the Hispanic congregation,” Cass said. “The focus of church plants and leadership development may also have to focus in that area.”
Joining together and working cooperatively has been a blessing, Cass and Colón agreed.
“We gained a lot by realizing we could do more (together) than we could as independent congregations,” Colón said. “So, we let go of the preoccupations that were not important and focused on the important vision we both had.”
Setting the benchmark for service
After three years, the church still encounters some unforeseen situations in terms of the interaction between the two congregations, Cass acknowledged. When that occurs, the church most focus on its mission—serving God, proclaiming the gospel and reaching others for Christ, he said.
Cass cited the example of a recent conference the church offered in which the session in Spanish attracted the largest number of attendees. So, church leaders decided the Spanish-language session needed the largest room, even though that came as a shock to some.
Churches must adapt and make changes as necessary because society constantly is changing, Colón said.
“We live in a world that changes continuously,” he said. “In that world the church serves as a hospital for those who need it. We are not a country club.
“God is moving in our church, and we see it growing. Now we are looking to involve people in the English-speaking congregation in the work we do locally and overseas.”
That is one of the benefits First Baptist Church has received through its relationship with First Baptist Church en Español, Cass said. Church leaders continually encourage members of the English-speaking congregation to engage with the Spanish-language congregation and “learn from them,” he added.
“They set a benchmark of service,” he said.