“We have always been treated as foreigners in our own countryside-exiles who never left home.” Daniel A. Rodriguez. A Future for the Latino Church: Models for Multilingual, Multigenerational Hispanic Congregations
The 2nd Generation has always been of interested to me. Then I had teenagers. That made it even more real. I believe, that outside of death, one of the worst things that can happen to a parent is to see his/her child decide to leave the faith. Since my kids are 2nd Generation, and I want to see them in heaven, I want to do everything I can to show them Jesus, not the exit sign.
2nd Gen is a term mostly used for young people that are born in this country of immigrant parents. It is commonly used for people of Hispanic descent, but, as I am finding out, the 2ndgeneration struggles/challenges are similar to the sons and daughters of West Indies, Russian, Korean, and African parents. Here are three challenges to this demographic, as it relates to their spiritual journey:
1. Exiles in their own country– this is a term used by Samuel Rodriguez in a great book called A Future for the Latino Church. They are not accepted in their ancestors churches because they don’t speak the language very well (among other things) and they don’t fit well in an Anglo church, because they feel outnumbered and out of place. Many attend, but don’t belong, so they say “so long”.
2. Culture vs gospel- There is no biblical basis or spirit of prophecy support for what has become reality in churches that have 2ndGeneration members: Culture trumping the gospel. The fights in many boards, sends a subtle (or not so subtle) message to the 2nd Generation: Culture is more important than people. Preserving language is paramount. The result is, we have kept our language, and lost many of our kids. “If our effort to maintain our culture in a foreign country makes our children leave the church, we have gained nothing.” (Daniel A. Rodriguez. A Future for the Latino Church: Models for Multilingual, Multigenerational Hispanic Congregations)
3. Leadership opportunities- For many of the 2nd Generation, their native tongue has become an “oral language only”, which they can understand fairly well, but struggle with communicating back with a high degree of proficiency. This cuts down on the level of involvement they can have at the local congregation, without the people getting frustrated with their accent, having to translate, and the nuances of both languages being lost in translation. Leadership positions are usually reserved for people that can dominate the native tongue and can express ideas and exhort the people forward. It might be a generalization, but the 2nd Generation has better access to education, higher paying jobs, and upwardly mobile opportunities. When their leadership skills are not used at their local congregations, sitting on the sidelines results in them leaving the game altogether.
What are some solutions? Next article will deal with three solutions.