By Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)
According to the US Census Bureau, Hispanics already comprise the largest ethnic minority group in the United States at somewhere around 55 million people. By the year 2060, that number is expected to more than double to approximately 120 million and make up 28.6% of the entire U.S. population. On their own, these statistics are impressive indeed.
Perhaps most surprisingly, by the year 2020, between 35-40 percent of American Hispanics will no longer Speak Spanish at home. That’s as many as 22 million people, or about the populations of Norway, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Ireland, and Jamaica combined. Second and third generation immigrants will begin to comprise a plurality, and their cultural habits as a group will shift as a result. Understanding how to communicate with, advertise to, and inspire these distinctly American Hispanics is becoming increasingly important to marketers, politicians and churches alike.
And here is the opportunity: Over 90 percent of Hispanics in America are in some way affiliated with Christianity. While Catholicism is still the majority faith tradition, a growing segment self-identifies as “born-again” with over 24% “former Catholics” choosing to instead worship in more Spirit-empowered streams including Charismatic and Pentecostal churches.
It is into this void that TBN Salsa entered in June of 2015 as the only English-speaking, Latino-led and Latino-focused network in the country. Preaching the Good News through edgier, engaging and socially relevant content, TBN Salsa catered to the “next generation” of Hispanics. Through prominent Latino worshipers, pastors, educators, entrepreneurs and influencers, TBN Salsa is English language programming, distinctly marked by the warmth, passion and love of family that is so central to Hispanic culture.
Programming also covers the extremely critical topics of education and college readiness. According to a 2016 report from Learning Heroes, a national parent organization, 90 percent of Hispanic parents believe college is vital for their children – a higher percentage than any ethnic group measured. And yet, only 51 percent of Hispanic college students make it to their college graduation. Shows like Raising the Standards with host Dr. Andrea Ramirez, are dedicated to empowering both students and parents to succeed in their educational lives and improve these trend lines.
And Hispanics, as well as others drawn to Hispanic culture, are watching—in droves—as viewership continues to grow.
Over the past two-and-a-half years, TBN Salsa has built on its initial successes, adding dynamic personalities to the network’s programming including Sergio de la Mora, pastor of Cornerstone Church of San Diego; Social advocate Rev. Tony Suarez; and Pastor Dimas Salaberrios of Infinity Church in New York City.
Why is this so important? Said plainly, this community represents the future of faith in this country.
While there have been countless headlines over the last 20 years warning of the demise of the American Anglo Church, Hispanics by contrast, are living through a revival. Passionate, Spirit-led worship (and not just of the musical variety) is sparking a movement among Latinos of all ages all across the country, but especially among millennials. In fact, more than half of all Hispanic Evangelicals are converts. Far from merely surviving this post-modern age, Hispanic congregations are exploding, and TBN Salsa is one of the key drivers behind this growth.
As the impact and influence of the Hispanic faith revolution continue to grow and take shape, this is also leading to the “salsification” of American Christianity as a whole, reigniting faith movements across all evangelical and charismatic groups. TBN Salsa is important precisely because it pours fuel on the fire, mentoring these next-generation Hispanics, encouraging them to take their place as leaders in not only the Church, but in business, entertainment, politics and beyond. As this cycle is repeated over the coming decades, the faith of Hispanics will move the needle of culture for Christ, ensuring that Christian faith remains a central fixture of American life.
Currently, TBN Salsa is available in 40 million U.S. homes. In the coming years, God willing, we will watch this number grow as additional cable providers come on board as they are already poised to do so.
You see, we are living through one of the most consequential demographic shifts ever experienced in America. If Christians don’t provide a powerful voice speaking hope and vision to this growing group, other influences will speak into the vacuum. We will either embrace these Hispanic Americans and pass the baton of faith onto them, or we risk failing to understand the “signs of the times” and lose out on the unquantifiable potential carried by an entire generation.
TBN Salsa is a powerful response to this growing cultural reality, and it’s changing the nation at just the right time.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Lead Pastor of TBN Salsa. He has been named by CNN and Fox News as “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and TIME Magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America.