The External Focus team's newest team member is Oscar Castillo. But Oscar doesn't just represent a new addition to our team - his role is brand-new... and very exciting for Watermark's impact on our neighbors and the world.
So we decided the best way to share all this newness was for you to hear directly from the horse's mouth! (The horse, in this case, is Oscar.)
BENSON: Hi Oscar! Let's start with an easy one. What… exactly… is your title here at Watermark?
OSCAR: Hello! I'm the Director of Cross-Cultural Engagement.
What does that mean?
With the ethnic diversity in our church body and the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex as a whole, I'm hoping to help people from any ethnic group have an easier time connecting here. I'll also be working on outreach efforts to the international people groups in our city.
Before I ask for details, then, why should everyone care about these things (even if they’re not in an “international people group")?
People from all over the world are now our neighbors, coworkers, and friends. This demographic change has brought about great opportunities - but also great challenges. As followers of Christ, we must learn how to effectively engage people from different cultures, which can lead to the advancement of God’s Kingdom in our city (and sometimes even in their home countries!).
One of your first activities is helping lead Watermark's Hispanic Ministry, which has been running through volunteers for a few years now. What have they been up to?
Several years ago, Watermark Church started seeing an increase in the number of Spanish-speakers at various weekday ministry functions along with the weekend worship services. This growth - that originally came by word-of-mouth - has created a need for Spanish-language opportunities and for the integration of the Spanish-speaking community into the Watermark family.
So in the past few years, many of the ministries at Watermark began volunteer-led Spanish expressions of their ministries, which has led to many people being transformed by the message of Jesus. The word continues to go out that Watermark now has a growing Spanish-speaking community.
For those who are unfamiliar (like me), what’s the difference between a “Hispanic Ministry” and a “Spanish Ministry”?
"Spanish" has to do with a language. "Hispanic" encompasses both the language and culture, so it could include anyone who was born or has family roots from Spanish-speaking countries that influence their values.
The Hispanic Ministry is just a piece of your overall focus, though. Tell us about your wider ministry.
Hispanics are not the only people group growing in Dallas! There are hundreds of thousands from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia settling here. It is estimated that around 180 people groups live in Dallas - and around 100 of those groups come from countries that are "closed" to Christianity in some way.
This creates a great opportunity to engage these people groups here in Dallas - leading to an opportunity for them (or us) to reach people in those closed countries.
With so many churches reaching different people groups in Dallas, why is this a great ministry for Watermark?
There are some great churches reaching all sorts of ethnic groups in Dallas, Fort Worth, and everywhere in between! But I can think of at least four great reasons Watermark should join in:
- First, God seems to be bringing these people our way! So we're trying our best to steward the people He brings through our doors.
- A need for multicultural and multilingual churches is on the rise. Many first-generation international people come to our country knowing only their native language and/or preferring their own cultures. But their kids and grandkids (born here in the U.S.) are predominantly English-speakers and feel more at home in a more "Americanized" culture. So the need to engage both first- and second-generation Americans is key to impacting families as a whole.
- Not all churches are healthy, whether they're worshiping in English or any other language! For instance, several of the Spanish-speaking members at Watermark have gained a better understanding of the Bible and feel equipped to better share their faith with others.
- This is an opportunity to not only see the gospel shared locally, but also globally. Once these individuals come to a relationship with Jesus, they are often able through technology and other means to share their faith with their loved ones in their countries of origin. So when we are reaching out the Spanish-speaking people here in Dallas, we are also reaching out to the Spanish-speaking nations as well. And when we reach those of other ethnicities, we're truly reaching to the "ends of the earth" through them.
I know you've just gotten started - but what's coming next for these ministries?
For the Hispanic Ministry, Sunday interpretation is now available for both the 9 and 11am Sunday services. And Re-Engage, Equipped Disciple, membership classes, and a few community groups are now in Spanish. So people can invite their Spanish-speaking friends to get connected with us!
We hope to increase the number of Watermark ministries offered in Spanish, so people should be on the lookout for that.
As for reaching others from "the ends of the earth," I'm hopeful to create the core group of leaders who will lead the outreach efforts to international people groups. Then that team will begin planning next steps in those efforts, including equipping Watermark members to reach their neighbors and others throughout the Metroplex!
If you're interested in any of these things, we'd love to know! Just email Oscar at firstname.lastname@example.org.