The annual Mexican Cinco de Mayo celebration could be a great opportunity to draw the attention of the Hispanic community to the Gospel. So I asked my friend Ivan Leon, Founder & Chief Strategist of the Kerux Group who develops trend analysis, cultural insights, and best practices for reaching the Hispanic audience to share some ideas for how churches can reach this growing community:
Today, Cinco de Mayo marks a celebration of Mexican culture, folklore, cuisine, and music, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Curiously, Cinco de Mayo is a popular festivity in the United States but not so much in Mexico. Some argue the holiday was invented by beer companies as an excuse to incentivize sells. While there is truth in that, there is also evidence that Mexicans residing in the United States had celebrated the date as far back as the 19th century.
It’s also worth noting that Cinco de Mayo actually has a biblical parallel in David’s victory over Goliath. The celebration commemorates the epic moment when Mexican soldiers defeated the French in the battle of Puebla. It is an example of how a small, independent and poor nation fought, and defeated, a much larger, more powerful and better equipped invading foreign army. The victory restored national pride and unity.
Given the historical significance and marketing push associated to this holiday, churches and ministries can use it to build a bridge with Hispanics, particularly those with Mexican roots. Pastor Jose Luis Saenz of Favorday Church in Los Angeles says that “As a church, Cinco de Mayo is an opportunity to go out on the streets to evangelize and we do it in the form of a party, a festival, where amid music, games, and different activities we share the love of God “.
That is why we want to give you five ideas to take advantage of the opportunity and organize a good evangelistic outreach this Cinco de Mayo…
1. Set up a Community Dining Room throughout the Weekend. Everyone loves food–especially if it’s free! Celebrate this occasion with a scrumptious spread of food from south of the border, including favorite Mexican recipes like salsa, quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, and more. Have church volunteers cook and donate the dishes. And be sure to invite the poor and hungry people in your community who are especially in need.
2. Extreme Games for Young People. Since Cinco de Mayo was a battle, your youth group could organize extreme games symbolizing team battles. With the popularity of the X-Games on ESPN, this could attract the boys of the community by extending an invitation to participate and offering a meaty award for the winning team.
3. Cultural Presentations in Educational Institutions. Your ministry can organize a group of volunteers who visit elementary and high schools offering cultural presentations such as dances, music and even some historical debates about what really happened on Cinco de Mayo.
4. Active participation in City Festivals. A volunteer team can evangelize during celebration events held by various cities. For example, organizers of the Cinco de Mayo celebration in Longmont, Colorado have said that it may be the only event the state that boasts of being alcohol and tobacco-free, a feature that co-chairwoman Mary Vigil said helps promote it as “a family event”. Church volunteers can attend and perform their own evangelistic dramas with the topic of spiritual freedom and, of course, distribute tracts and talk about Jesus with the audience.
5. Mariachi Music Festival. Mariachi festivals could be a community-friendly way of drawing families together to your church, where you can celebrate Mexican heritage through mariachi music, traditional dancing, and celebration of arts & culture. You can sell tickets to the festival from several days before and use the funds collected for your church’s charitable projects.
Whether you decide to have a good taco meal or enjoy listening to a good time of mariachi music, it will always be important to remember the message of the true freedom we have in Jesus. It’s a great way to relate the historical events of Cinco de Mayo with the spiritual event that marks our lives. Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Founder & Chief Strategist
Kerux Group Inc.