Church adds Spanish service to serve families with English and Spanish speakers
October 7th, 2016 / By: JC Davies / comments
FORT WORTH When Dave Koenig planted NewBrook Church in 2014, he had a vision to see Spanish speakers in Fort Worth reached with the gospel. Now, almost two years later, Koenig said his church is starting to see that dream come to life.
When NewBrook launched, the church’s leadership hoped to reach out to the large Hispanic community around them. Koenig estimates about one-third of the population speaks Spanish in the county where the church meets.
“Where we are, there are thousands and thousands of people that Spanish is their first language, a whole community that’s not being reached as much. … The number of churches we have in Fort Worth that are reaching the English-speaking population are great, but those reaching the Spanish-speaking population are much less,” Koenig said.
Initially, most of the people who joined the church—including Koenig, who is a native English-speaker—did not speak Spanish. The congregation began hosting community events to connect with Spanish-speaking families living around the church, and through events like free movie nights during the summer, friendships developed and more families began to visit NewBrook.
However, as attendance grew, Koenig realized many of the families coming to church were split between Spanish-speaking and English-speaking members.
“The wives and the kids spoke English, and very little Spanish, but the dads and husbands were fluent in Spanish and spoke very little English. … That family can’t go to a Spanish-speaking church because the kids don’t know Spanish and the wife isn’t very fluent in Spanish, but if they go to an English-speaking church, the husband is lost.”
—Dave Koenig, church planter, NewBrook Church
“The wives and the kids spoke English, and very little Spanish, but the dads and husbands were fluent in Spanish and spoke very little English. … That family can’t go to a Spanish-speaking church because the kids don’t know Spanish and the wife isn’t very fluent in Spanish, but if they go to an English-speaking church, the husband is lost,” Koenig said.
To meet the needs of these families, NewBrook hosted its first Spanish worship service earlier this summer. The service is now held monthly and follows immediately after the regular service in English so families with both English and Spanish speakers can attend a church together.
“We’ve had Spanish speakers come to events over the past year, but now we finally have something in Spanish to invite them to. Even for people who are bilingual, it’s really important what their heart language is, their worship language. If someone is bilingual but they’re predominantly Spanish-speaking, then when they are worshipping in Spanish, that’s when they feel the most connected to God.” Koenig said.
NewBrook church is continuing to find new ways to expand its growing Spanish ministry, but it is not without dedication and a few challenges, Koenig said.
Koenig studied Spanish in college, but continues to strengthen his language skills in order to preach in the Spanish services and to more effectively reach his Hispanic neighbors.
“It’s been an incredible challenge, something that’s been exciting and fun, but it’s been challenging. I can’t exactly remove myself from the English-speaking world, but I try to immerse myself as much as I can in Spanish. I listen to Spanish radio all day. I read the Bible in Spanish now; I listen as much as I can to Spanish.” he said.
While the church is celebrating what God has done in establishing a Spanish worship service, NewBrook is still in the early stages of casting a vision for becoming a truly multi-cultural church, Koenig said. His dream is that one day NewBrook would not be “an English church that has a couple of people who speak Spanish, but we’re going to be a bilingual church.”
Despite the difficulty of language learning and cross-cultural ministry, Koenig hopes these challenges will lead to NewBrook becoming a church that better reflects the community in which God placed it.
“It’s been really exiting to see how we’ve grown to show diversity in culture and background,” he said. “That’s something people are excited about and comfortable with now, and I feel like that better reflects Revelation, where there are people from every tribe and tongue worshipping God together.”