New Study Highlights the Needs of Hispanic-Led Protestant Churches

Though many are facing financial struggles, U.S. pastors of Hispanic congregations are grateful for their position, according to a recent Lifeway Research report. Diverse worship styles don’t change their shared desire for community outreach and service.

Half of the Hispanic pastors (51%) surveyed say they are employed full-time by their churches compared to 30% who are bi-vocational. In addition, 13% of Hispanic pastors volunteer their time, 6% serve their congregations part-time and 1% serve in an interim position.

Most pastors (88%) who are bi-vocational work 20 or more hours at a second job. This includes 51% who work an additional 40 hours in addition to their weekly church responsibilities. 

Most of the pastors surveyed (79%) say they do so out of “financial necessity for their families.” Nearly half (48%) say the second job helps the church’s bottom line and thirty percent of pastors do so because their families need health insurance.  

Nearly a quarter of the pastors surveyed (23%) say they are bi-vocational “to better identify with the population they want to reach” (23%) while others feel called to bi-vocational ministry (21%). In addition, a smaller number (18%) say they have a second job because they simply enjoy working 

More than half (52%) of the spouses of Hispanic pastors also work to financially support the family, of which the extra income is essential to 29%. Nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) say “it makes things easier financially for their family.” On the other hand, only 6% say their spouse’s income is not essential. 

Strained finances are not the only challenge. Most of the Hispanic pastors surveyed identify with these four issues: apathy or lack of commitment from people in their congregation (72%), balancing time between work and home (58%), consistently exercising (57%) and taking time to relax and have fun away from work (50%).

Despite financial hardship and the issues identified previously, these pastors say serving a church is beneficial. These benefits include seeing life transformation in others up close (85%), experiencing personal enjoyment using their gifts to serve others (84%), increasing their dependence on God (83%) and seeing personal spiritual growth (83%). In addition, pastors say their service has made a difference in helping families and marriages heal (79%), making meaningful connections with others (79%) while also experiencing personal enjoyment or satisfaction doing ministry (78%).

The pastors surveyed say the churches offer a variety of musical styles during the worship service to engage with multiple generations of immigrants who may be first, second, and third generations. Worship services are blended traditional/contemporary (30%), Pentecostal (23%), contemporary (22%), or traditional (15%). A small minority describe the worship services as liturgical (3%), post-modern/emerging (2%), or urban contemporary (2%).

While congregational life is important to these faith leaders, almost all of them (99%) say support for the community by meeting their neighbors’ tangible needs is essential. The survey found that the pastors are split on their target audience: 46% say everyone in their community and 46% say only the Hispanic people in their community. Six percent of U.S. Hispanic pastors surveyed say their outreach focuses on recent Hispanic immigrants.

“While many have come to realize the very real difficulties that pastors face in the U.S., pastors of Hispanic churches are quick to focus on the positives,” Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said. “Many of those in Hispanic churches work long hours and their pastors often do the same. Amidst these challenges, pastors have grown spiritually and enjoy serving others.”


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