I’m delighted to announce the release this week by Abingdon Press of the new Spanish edition of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, entitled Cinco Prácticas de Congregaciones Fructíferas.
The road toward the Spanish translation began two years ago with requests from pastors of the Greater New Jersey and the New York Conferences of the United Methodist Church. Next, church leaders from southern California, New Mexico, Texas and Florida expressed an interest in a resource to stimulate discussions and to use for strategic planning and new church development for Hispanic ministries.
However, the turning point moment in the development of the new book came when the Iglesia Metodista de Puerto Rico expressed active interest in using the book as a key element of their conference-wide transformation process. I enjoyed the extraordinary privilege of working with the pastors of Puerto Rico and speaking to an auditorium filled with Puerto Rican laity in San Juan this past Spring. Their Renovare event included four days of clergy and laity presentations, workshops, demographic studies, best practices, and training for laity and clergy focused on the Five Practices. The leadership they offered and the materials they produced were excellent. The experience in Puerto Rico confirmed the need and quickened the pace of production for the Spanish language edition.
I’m always skeptical about whether the Five Practices and the examples from the book will translate across languages and cultures. And yet in every instance, the results have been positive. There’s a universal quality to these critical elements of church life that makes them helpful for diverse communities of faith and contexts.
Some people have asked if I translated the book myself. I wish! While I have studied Spanish for years, grew up and served in predominantly Hispanic communities, and have traveled and studied extensively in Central America, my Spanish language skill is limited to conversation, reading, public greetings, and simple sermons. I don’t have the sophisticated language skills necessary to translate a book. For that work, I want to thank Diana D. López, who completed the translation, and the Spanish-language editors at Abingdon, Pedro López and Pablo Garzón, for their hard work to bring this project to fruition.
I also want to thank Bishop Juan Vera Méndez of Puerto Rico, Bishop Raúl Garcia de Ochoa of Mexico, retired Bishop Joel Martínez, formerly of the San Antonio area, and Franklin Guerrero of Children International, for their supporting work, promotional support, and active encouragement. Bishop Vera serves as a colleague and friend on the Council of Bishops; Bishop Garcia and I have known each other for years working on joint border projects in South Texas and Northern Mexico; Bishop Martínez served as my Bishop before I was elected; and Franklin formerly worked with the General Board of Global Ministries with a focus on Central and South America. These have all been active encouragers of my work and of the Five Practices.
My prayer is that pastors and lay leaders serving Spanish-speaking communities will find the Five Practices to be a useful tool to stimulate leadership and planning discussions, start communities of faith, strengthen congregations and house groups and to train leaders about the mission of the church. I hope it serves as the basis of sermon series, planning meetings, licensing school studies, and seminary preparation just as the English edition has.
If you know of a congregation, faith community, or mission initiative that worships or conducts its leadership conversations with Spanish as the principal language, please recommend the book. Or better yet, consider purchasing the book and offering copies as a gift. Help spread the word about how the mission of church deepened and expanded by repeating the practices of la hospitalidad radical, la adoración apasionada, el desarrollo intencional de la fe, la misión y servicio arriesgados, y la generosidad extravagante.
Yours in Christ,