I'm about to celebrate my third Christmas in Panama, and I've only just started taking Spanish lessons. If you read between the lines, this means I don't speak Spanish. I went to an awards dinner last week and it literally slipped my mind that it would be in Spanish. I was shocked when the mistress of ceremonies spoke in Spanish. Laughable I know. How can I forget that I live in Panama where the national language is Spanish? Because almost everyone I deal with on a professional level speaks English.
The first church I attended was in Spanish. Oops. Forgot to add a language preference to my Google search. Although you don't need to speak the language to enjoy a church service, it does help to know what the pastor is talking about. That's when the apple fell from the tree and I realized my version of gravity...I needed to find an English-speaking church. The first one I tried was too small, but the second one was a good fit. It meets in a movie theater, which means comfy chairs and full-blast air conditioning. Plus, the pastor is someone I enjoy listening to. In fact, I probably would have chosen this church even if I'd still been deep in the bible belt with churches on every corner.
International churches are common in Panama. They have multiplied at the same rate as the English-speaking expats. My church is full of Americans, Canadians, Europeans, Aussies, and Latin Americans who are married to Americans, as well as the stray Panamanian who speak fluent English and just wants to go to an English-speaking church. Aside from the international mix, the median age at my church is about 35 and very few young children. (Try finding THAT in the bible belt!)
In every expat community in Panama, there are many choices of English-speaking Catholic and Christian churches to attend. The fun part is that you get to meet people from all over the world. And of course no Spanish is necessary.