Multilingual Churches with Multiple Languages
As churches adapt to serving a multicultural global village and communities with more diversity, some are developing ministries in multiple languages. (cf. polyglot – someone who can speak multiple languages)
Many ethnic Asian churches and other immigrant churches have done that for decades. For some ethnic Korean churches, they’re ministering in Korean and English, for Chinese ones, they’re ministering in Mandarin, English, Cantonese and/or Taiwanese.
Noticing a growing number of more diversified multiethnic churches that have worship services in at least 3 languages across multiple racial groupings. (Please add a link and I’ll keep this list updated.)
List of multi-lingual multi-racial polyglot churches
- Village Baptist Church (Beaverton, OR) – English, Chinese, East Indian, Hispanic, Korean
- First Baptist Church (Flushing, NY) – English, Spanish, Chinese
- Calvary Church (Santa Ana, CA) – English, Spanish and Mandarin
- Providence Bible Church (Denver, CO) – English, Spanish, Swahili
- The Lamb’s Church (New York, NY) – English, Spanish, Mandarin
- LA First Church of the Nazarene (Los Angeles, CA) – English, Spanish, Korean, and Filipino
- The Rock (Anaheim, CA++) – English, Spanish, Vietnamese
Pasadena Presbyterian Church (Pasadena, CA) – English, Spanish, Korean
- Mission Viejo Christian Church (Mission Viejo, CA) – English, Spanish, Persian, Japanese
- New Life Church (Cupertino, CA) – English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish
- Northwest Church of Christ (Chicago) – English, Korean, Spanish
- Community Church Jackson Heights (Queens, NY) – English, Chinese, Spanish [and also had Korean for 13 years]
- Point Church (Chapel Hill NC, Raleigh, and more) – English, Español, اردو Urdu, 한국어Korean, Swahili, Kinyarwanda
- King’s Park International Church (Durham, NC) – English, Chinese, Spanish
- New Life Baptist Church (Houston TX) – English, Korean, Spanish
- Creekside Church (Mountlake Terrace WA) – English, Spanish, Korean
- Santa Ana United Methodist Church (Santa Ana, CA) – English, Spanish, Cambodian, Tongan, Filipino/Tagalog
- Bridges Community Church (Fremont, CA) – English, Filipino, Cantonese, Deaf, Mandarin, Indian
- The Point Church (San Jose, CA) – Cambodian, Cantonese, English, Mandarin, Spanish
- New Life Community Church (Chicago) – English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese
- Trinity Church (Monterey Park, CA) – English, Mandarin, Spanish
- Tallowood Baptist Church (Houston) – English, Chinese, Burmese, Sudanese, Arabic, Spanish
- Brentwood Baptist Church (Brentwood, TN) – English, Spanish, Chinese, Deaf
- Celebration Church (Santa Ana, CA) – English, Cambodian, Spanish
- Cornerstone West Los Angeles – English, Spanish, Farsi
- Church of the Beloved (Chicago) – English, Arabic, Russian, Spanish
- Los Angeles Holiness Church – English, Japanese, Spanish
- Forest Meadow Baptist Church (Dallas) – English, Afaan Oromo, Spanish, Burmese and Arabic
- Calvary Orlando Church – English, Spanish, Portuguese
- Dream Church (Virginia Beach) – English, Turkish, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu
- Bible Baptist Church (Gardena, CA) – English, Korean, Spanish
- All Nations UMC (Nicholasville, KY) – Korean, English, Spanish, French
- One Voice Fellowship (Seven Corners, VA) – English, French, Farsi, Amharic, Arabic, Spanish, Punjabi, Uyghur, Chinese, and Urdu
- Acts Global Church (Santa Ana, CA) – English, Korean, Japanese
- Cornerstone Asian Church (Mississauga, ON, Canada) – English, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi
- Kingdom City Houston (Houston, TX) – English, Spanish, Telegu, Swahili, Portugese
- Gracepoint Church (Berkeley, CA) – English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish
- St Martin-in-the-Fields (London, UK) – English, Mandarin, Cantonese
- Life Impact Church (Austin, TX) – English, Hindi & Malayalam
- Saddleback Church – English, Español, Chinese, German
- Maranatha Chapel (Chicago) – English, Español, Arabic
- Zion Lutheran Church (Des Moines, IA) – English, Swahili/Kinyamulenge, Mizo
- New Life Church (Colorado Springs, CO) – English, Spanish, Chinese
- One Mind Church (Woodbridge, VA) – Korean, English, Chinese, Spanish
- Calvary Church (Charlotte, NC) – English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian
- WestPark Church (London, Ontario, Canada) – English | 中文 | Español | عربي
- First Alliance Church (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) – English, with live translation into multiple languages via spf.io
- Neighborhood Church (Cypress, CA) – English, Spanish, Khmer
- CLW Bonn (Bonn, Germany) www.clwbonn.de/en/
- Tampere Pentecostal Church (Tampere, Finland): tamperehelluntai.fi/international – Finnish, Ukrainian, Russian, English, Chinese, French, Arabic, Persian
- Also, see churches on the client list of Interactio: www.interactio.io/house-of-worship
articles & resources about multilingual churches and worship
- Praise Hands Collective – a multicultural worship expression that brings people together across languages, genres, and denominations
- Proskuneo Ministries – multilingual multicultural worship resources, cf. 7 videos about Multilingual worship
- The Ethnos Project – “to encourage and capture sounds and songs derived from various Christ-centered faith communities around the globe”
- Fresh Start Music – “to become a true multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, intergenerational and multi-genre church”
- Resources related to the Urbana 12 Worship Team curated by Matt Stauffer
- For one south suburban church, services in English, Spanish and Arabic fulfill a mission of ‘reaching the world’ (Chicago Tribune, May 2019)
- The Polyglot Congregation (news.ag.org, July 2015)
- The Polyglot Gospel: Learning to Learn the Language of the Liberal City by A.J. Swoboda (Christianity Today, October 2013)
- Neighborhood Transitions & the Local Church: 5 Foundational Steps for Genuine Multicultural Community (in 4 parts) by Ed Stetzer (July 2012)
- Multilingual Worship: How to include many languages by Joan Huyser-Honig (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship)
- Becoming Walmart-Smart: The Value of Multilingual Ministry by Juan Vazquez-Pla (Grace & Peace, Oct 2010)
- Mother Tongue use in multilingual churches – A review of ‘Managing linguistic diversity in the church’
- Multilingual church leads families to Christ (Baptist Press, Feb 2013) – about Turning Point Church (Miami)
- Breaking the language barrier, and the trend by Erik Tryggestad (The Christian Chronicle, 2007)
- Links to Global Christian Worship Resources
- Checklist for Multicultural and Multilingual Worship by José Antonio Rubio (Liturgy, vol 14:4, 1998)
- Kingdom Reflections Multi-ethnic Worship Ministries
- Also see City Harvest Church (Singapore)‘s Worship Services in English, Chinese Mandarin, Hokkien/Cantonese, Indonesian, Filipino
- Ethnic Harvest
- Ethnic Christian Church Directory (last update in 2009)
- 4 churches in Seoul, South Korea, have worship services in many languages:
- Onnuri Church – English, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Mongol, Russian, Nepali, Arabian, Filipino, Khmer, and Sinhala
- Seoul Sung Rak Church – Korean, English, French, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish and Russian
- SaRang Church – Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese
- Yoido Full Gospel Church – English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian
(nb: of course, it can be said that there is only one race, the human race; yet in the context of the United States with a racialized history, there are significantly different social dynamics in a multi-generational Asian American context vs. a multi-ethnic context with Anglos, Asians, African Americans, and Hispanics)
The Presbyterian Church in Chinatown: Three services: Mandarin, Cantonese and English.
Calvary Church of Santa Ana has services each Sunday in English, Spanish and Mandarin. Details at calvarylife.org
My little church Westminster Presbyterian in Santa Fe, NM is bilingual in Spanish and English.
MBCLA (Alhambra, CA) – English, Cantonese, Mandarin
FCBCLA (Chinatown, CA) – English, Cantonese, Mandarin
EFCLA (El Monte, CA) – English, Mandarin, Taiwanese
FECSGV (Rosemead, CA) – English, Cantonese, Mandarin
CEFC (Monterey Park, CA) – English, Cantonese, Mandarin
Alhambra True Light Presbyterian (Alhambra, CA) – English, Cantonese, Mandarin
My internship church, Christ Presbyterian, Japantown, San Francisco, CA. English and Japanese.
San Jose Christian Alliance Church- English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and hosts a cambodian and spanish speaking church.
Canaan Taiwanese Christian Church (San Jose, CA): English, Mandarin, and Taiwanese
DJ, I like this topic but I’m not sure exactly where you’re going with it. It seems like you’re asking for not just multi-lingual but intentionally multi-racial (as in non-immigrant) churches? Or churches that started out as English-speaking and then added other languages? Or churches that have a predominantly Western ethos? Otherwise we would have a massive list of immigrant churches with English ministries. Also, of the resources you list, which one do you recommend starting with?
Fred, thanks for adding a comment here!
The list is intended for multi-lingual multi-racial churches, as stated. This is a trend-spotting effort for me, to see how churches will navigate reaching out to multiple immigrant groups, using multiple languages and multiple racial groups, with potential impact for global partnerships and missions as well. So I’m refraining from creating a large listing of ethnic Asian churches that typically have bilingual or trilingual ministries (though someone could/should do that maybe).
As for the resources I’ve listed, I’ve only found them and have not studied them, so just as good to start at the top of the list and work your way down. 🙂
DJ, thanks for the reply. I still don’t get it. When you say multi-lingual, multi-racial, I think literally “more than one race” and “more than one language”. But your criteria of multi-lingual is at least three language services. Tim’s church, CTCC, could likely be considered multi-racial even though it’s immigrant but I’m sure you’ll find white, mixed race people, etc, there, as you will at my church CCIC-SV and our mother church CCIC-SJ . So is there a quota you’re looking for? What about churches that host other churches or have other language services but are mostly separate congregations meeting under the same roof? What about international churches?
Fred, thanks for continuing this conversations. As you’ve noted, there are many other what-ifs when trying to define what counts as a multiracial multiethnic church. Without being too verbose about all the qualifiers, maybe we can simplify it as this — From sociologists, they measure multiethnic as 20% or more minority, so if we use the same metric, a multiracial church would be 20% or more diversity. And, there’s a difference between being intentionally vs. accidentally diverse.
While multi-generational Chinese (or Korean) churches (for which the are too many to list) can be described as multiethnic because there are multiple languages and multiple ethnicities under one church governance, there is a whole different dimension of ministry challenge & opportunity when leading and ministering among Asians and non-Asians together. It is this latter category that I’m building this list to take a closer look.
Thanks DJ. Now I get it. That’s a helpful definition but seems like a high bar. It’s like telling me about a platypus. I’ve never seen one but I’ve heard they exist.
It’s excellent to see multicultural churches becoming more popular. I had the pleasure of attending a Christmas service that was entirely in Spanish, and the simple mistake turned out to be quite a blessing. It’s very powerful to see others worship, without understanding the words. Their facial expressions, body language, and love for one another are much more perceptible.