If you’re an aspiring pastor or theologian, I think you should consider learning Spanish. If you’re a seminary, I think you should consider offering it.
For pastors — with the increase of Spanish-speakers in the U. S., and the small number of Spanish-language worship services by comparison, I expect one of the church’s greatest new “frontiers” in America to come in the form of churches and worship services that use the Spanish language. Whether aspiring pastors are preparing to lead these churches, or simply preparing to more effectively communicate with those who do, I believe they can benefit greatly from facility with the language.
I’ve heard the United Methodist Church has had trouble figuring out what to do with non-English-speaking Hispanics who are pursuing ordination. Ordination guarantees an appointment, and they don’t know what to do if there’s not a Spanish-speaking appointment to give them. That’s something the UMC will need to figure out and get over soon, or they’re going to miss a significant, growing portion of the American population.
For theologians — I expect Spanish to be an important language for upcoming theologians. It’s pretty common to see German offered in seminary, and sometimes even French, so you can interact with the bulk of non-English scholarly work of the past few centuries. With the rise of Christianity in Spanish-speaking countries, I could easily see Spanish becoming the most important non-English language for interacting with 21st century theologians.
(Aspring) pastors and theologians, think about it. Might it be worthwhile to study some Spanish?
Seminaries and divinity schools, might you consider offering Spanish courses? You’ll be preparing your students well for ministry and theological work in the 21st century.
For a good laugh, here’s a look at some of my early stumbles trying to learn Spanish while living in Spain: “The most humbling experience of my life…”