Majoring in Missiology in the Doctor of Ministry degree program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary under Dr. Daniel R. Sanchez and Dr. Levi Price opened a whole new world of learning in the study of God’s mission on earth.
I learned about cultural anthropology, cross-cultural communication, cross-cultural studies, intercultural relationships, and contextualization. This field of study led me to focus on demographics in the early 1990s while conducting doctoral research as my wife and I were planting a church in El Paso in collaboration with Scotsdale Baptist Church, the El Paso Baptist Association, and Texas Baptists. I dove into the fascinating Southwestern borderlands ethos of El Paso, Juarez, and Las Cruces, the largest borderland region in the United States.
Living and serving in El Paso felt like I was living in the future. Serving at Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio further immersed me into Texas demographics. I developed this catchphrase: “In the future, you will either be bilingual and bicultural, or you will be bi-yourself.”
Dr. Steve Murdoch, former Texas state demographer, began predicting the “browning of Texas and the USA” with numbers and projections to support his case. Demographers predicted Hispanics would be a majority population in Texas by 2050. The Texas Tribune* projected Hispanics will be the majority population in in Texas by 2022, this year.
Demographics are driving diversity in our communities, cities, and even the nation. We are becoming more ethnically and racially diverse each year, reaching a tipping point in 2022, while also moving into closer proximity of each other. This trend will only accelerate in the years to come. 2050 is already here now, 27 years ahead of schedule. The Asian population in Texas is growing the fastest and the African-American population continues steady growth at 12 percent of the total. People of Euro-American background are also growing but at a much slower pace.
Differences were easier to manage from a distance with little need to explore and understand each other’s worldview. Let’s be honest, most of us do not understand the culture of people who are different from us. We assume our way is the only way and have only a vague understanding of the other. The world has moved next door and brought their culture with them.
What does this mean for businesses, our economic health, and the future? Pedro Guerrero, editor of Hispanic Executive magazine, has a clarion view on this topic. He quoted Dr. Roberto Rodriguez who said, “If a company does not have a Latino strategy, it does not have a growth strategy.”** Guerrero points to the “incredible and unbelievable gap in knowledge that exists in the halls of power and boardrooms alike … a lack of awareness about and insight into the second-largest population in this country.” If this is true for corporate America, what implications would Rodriguez’s assertion have for nonprofit organizations, ministries, colleges and universities, churches, and public schools?
The answer may lie in the word “incarnation.” Jesus came in the flesh to “dwell among us.” For a faith-based, Christ-centered ministry to minister with Kingdom integrity in a changing demographic context, it must walk and talk like those it seeks to serve.
We are headed into the second year of a dynamic strategic plan at Buckner International despite the challenges of COVID-19. The potential for a ministry whose mission is to, “Follow the example of Jesus in serving vulnerable children, families, and seniors,” seems unlimited yet requires our eyes to be wide open to “understand the times and know what Israel should do.”*** We must continue to ask ourselves where we are living and serving as well as what time it is in redemptive history. We must continue asking how we can live out “Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” How might we plan and serve in such a way that the kingdom of God comes near to those we serve?**** Our plan is to do this with one child and one family at a time.
Beyond our outstanding service among adults in senior living, we continue serving vulnerable children and families by protecting children, strengthening families, and transforming generations, breaking the cycle of poverty for many families. Our vision is to set the standard of excellence in serving vulnerable children, families, and seniors.
Demographics point us to diversity at work, in school, in neighborhoods, and in society in general. Demographics plus diversity point the way to destiny, our future. Where are we headed exactly? What are the keys to the flourishing of human society currently?
The current climate begs the question: What is the best way to live in a diverse society? How do we navigate differences in culture, race, ethnicity, and differentness? How do we experience diversity in our work force at all levels of the organization? How might our board demographically reflect our staff and clients? How do we close the gap between our mission’s best intentions and those we serve? These are questions and conversations every Christ-centered ministry should seriously consider. We have an opportunity to lead rather than lag. And remember, actions speak way louder than words, always.
Sources: *Alex Ura & Connie Hanzhang Jin. Texas gained almost nine Hispanic residents for every additional white resident last year, Texas Tribune. **Pedro Guerrero. Corporate America needs a Latino Strategy, Hispanic Executive.
***1 Chronicles 12:23-32