The population in Morristown is becoming more Hispanic. In this traditional suburb of New York City, the Hispanic/Latino population has grown from 27% of the community in 2000 to 34% in 2010. It will be even higher in 2020. This fact was raised during Morristown UMC’s Team Vital discussions.
How does a congregation meet the spiritual needs of a growing Latino/Hispanic community?
The answers were simpler than you would expect: Listen. Care. Lead.
Effective leadership requires good listening. Our Creator gave us two ears and one mouth, which invites us to listen more than talk to build trust and relationships. To understand a congregation consider asking the following questions and listening to the answers:
- What do you celebrate about our church?
- What are your hopes and dreams for our church?
- How can I pray for you and with you?
It has been said that “people don’t care what you know until they know you care.” A leader must nurture the heart that cares.
Encourage the congregation to grow in caring by shifting the focus from “What’s in it for me?” to “What’s in it for others?”, and then to “What’s ultimately in it for God?” Draw the circle wide and then wider, and you will expand care from the immediate church family to new people and the surrounding community.
Our communities are our new mission field. We are called to move out of our comfort zones to a road less traveled as new missionaries of the Gospel. This calls for a new kind of leadership. Sometimes, it is necessary to lead from the front by vision casting, from the middle by working along with others, from the rear by encouraging and supporting, or from your absence by trusting the work and abilities of the team.
At Morristown UMC, when our Team Vital stopped to Listen, Care and Lead, we gave birth to a new Spanglish Ministry called Nueva Esperanza or New Hope. Under the leadership of Pastor Charles Perez, we are reaching new Latino and Hispanic friends. We are growing disciples. We are learning to be more interculturally and intergenerationally competent. We are transforming our ministry as we become a spiritual community that meets the needs of a diverse population of friends and neighbors.
We seek to be servant leaders by listening, caring and leading our way to a new ministry.
Rev. Dr. Brandon Cho
Morristown United Methodist Church