Leaders from Spanish-speaking churches across Oregon Conference came together in Turner, Oregon, for one of their biggest annual events: RED.
RED, an acronym for Redimir, Entrenar y Discipular — redeem, train and disciple — exists to equip and inspire local church boards as they set about their ministries for the coming year. Strategically scheduled as early as possible, RED usually takes place after church boards and new leaders have been established in their local churches, but early enough to set a coordinated strategy and mission for the rest of the year.
Eli Martinez, youth ministries director and communications director at Forest Grove Spanish Adventist Church, has been attending RED events for more than a decade. “RED represents this formalized sharing of knowledge in which wisdom gets passed down from leader to leader,” said Martinez.
“We come together as a community to be able to grow through that shared knowledge that we have from working in the church in different leadership positions. It’s amazing because we have the opportunity to learn from leaders across the conference who have varying experiences, and ultimately, we get to share and learn from each,” he shared.
RED emphasizes collaboration and tangible progress by breaking up the event between listening to speakers and dynamic, on-the-ground decision making by local church boards. Martinez shared that many local church boards intentionally plan around this event and take steps such as voting on and approving action items for their churches throughout the weekend. This allows church boards to return to their churches prepared to implement ideas from the weekend.
Concerns about youth engagement were a major focus during this year’s RED event. As someone who has been part of his local church leadership team since his teenage years, Martinez found this focus to be meaningful. “So many churches are losing youth at a rapid pace, and one thing we’ve noticed is that churches who have successfully created a culture that fosters youth have really focused on it," said Martinez. "It doesn’t just happen, it’s intentional.”
“It is truly amazing to know there are leaders in the highest positions of our Hispanic ministries who are laser focused on supporting the youth,” he continued. "That signals to me an investment that, honestly, I didn’t grow up seeing. This switch has been, to me, one of the best ways that we’ve come together as a community to lead a revival that not only affects the youth, but the entire church."
"We’ve noticed how fundamentally important the gospel has become and spend less time on the semantics of what that looks like. This principal-driven ministry has made me want to stay involved," he shared. "There’s financial support, people, effort and interest going into this — and I think that’s the kind of investment we’ve noticed. Looking into the future is exciting. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I find myself being supported by those around me, and that, to me, is invaluable.”