Dear evangelical conference planners: Thank you for your diversity statements. Thank you for inviting feedback. Thank you for listening.

In response to concerns over lack of diversity at past conferences, the Leadership Network released a statement to say, “We welcome your input and ideas or how we can do better in the areas of diversity, and how we, together, can work to represent Christ and the Church in the best way possible.”

Just a year ago, the organization’s annual conference, The Nines, came under fire on Twitter when Rachel Held Evans, Jonathan Merritt, and others drew attention to the 100-plus lineup, which only had a few women and people of color. Since then, it seems, Christian conferences increasingly get subjected to scrutiny on social media over whether their lineups are sufficiently diverse—particularly when it comes to gender and racial or ethnic divisions in the church.

As an African American woman, I understand the tensions on both sides of this outrage. Ultimately, with such events, the evangelical community has an opportunity to think about what our featured voices say about the church and the gospel we cling to. Given the drastic change in the speaker lineup for this year’s Nines conference, held last week, we see how our constructive response to a lack of diversity may actually bring forth voices from a broader range of backgrounds.

Diversity for diversity’s sake—the kind of tokenism mentality that leads organizers to ask a person of color at the last-minute to come say an opening prayer for their all-white event—does not truly value our voices, nor does it benefit the church. But when organizers are intentional about including diverse perspectives, something entirely different happens. When we as the Body of Christ ask underlining questions about our own Christian family and the value of our sisters and brothers who are different than us, we enter into a conversation on the credibility of the gospel to change lives and impact human relationships.

Back in 1972, evangelist Billy Graham said, “Christianity is not a white man’s religion…Jesus belongs to the whole world.” Historically, the term “evangelical” has become synonymous with “white evangelical,” and that affiliation has largely stuck, even as churches and denominations become more diverse.

But the racial makeup of this country—along with our awareness of racial diversity—is evolving faster than ever, with researchers predicting drastic change over the next few decades as the country becomes less and less white. In this context, if Christian leaders are not paying more attention to diverse voices, they are bound to have colleagues, church members, and yes, Twitter followers, telling them they should be. Conflict raises our consciousness. The Holy Spirit prompts us to respectfully and responsibly cry out for change without the blame that we are trying to cause division in the body.

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Intentionally addressing the diversity issue in evangelical conferences requires both a bottom-up (individual) and a top-down (structural) approach. In addition to social media and grassroots efforts, we can create connections by developing one-on-one relationships with people of a different race or ethnicity and thoughtfully listening to the voices of women. On a personal level, having discerning relationships with mentors who are different from us pushes us to learn from one another and recognize our “blind spots.”

Then there’s the top-down approach. In publishing and blogging, we talk about “platform.” For leaders, Jenni Catron calls it “clout.” Whatever the term, people in positions of power have the opportunity to steward their influence. They can keep the issue of diversity at the forefront of their organizational priorities and conversations. Beyond that, they can choose to feature the voices of women and racial minorities.

This stewardship is important for our churches and organizations, but especially for conferences—where people look to the lineups to see who they should be listening or paying attention to. Last year’s Nines conference had over 30,000 viewers, and there was much promotion going on during the presentations at this year’s conference. In addition to the stage, there is a lot of book and product placements at major conferences. These events encourage an embrace of new voices in our reading, organizations, and other areas of life. Additionally, consistently championing diverse voices will likely increase more diverse attendance and viewership over time, which will result in broader conversations and just actions across the board.

As a double minority in the evangelical community, I don’t rally for the diversity cause because women or minorities need to become famous or secure the approval of white men. We don’t. It is God who justifies, determines the time set before us, and the nature of our work. It is he who will open doors for the called and faithful that no man can shut.

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On the other hand, I understand the value my white male brothers bring to the table. How could I not? As the dominant culture, their many contributions are at the forefront of Christian organizations, churches, and schools. And yet, it’s possible to go through evangelical education programs and leadership training without gaining familiarity with female and minority voices. White men stand to grow in their faith journey, their leadership, and their theology by learning from the perspectives of women and minorities.

Regardless of their platforms, Christian women and minorities are writing books, teaching classes, giving talks, starting churches, leading organizations, and doing a myriad of important work to serve the church. Diversity statements are a good first step. So are conference lineups that demonstrate racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. But the question remains, where will we go from here? How much will we do to harness the inspired work of the whole Body of Christ?

My hope is not that we have an outward embrace of diversity, which allows for colorful brochures and an acceptable “PC” label, but an embedded spirit of unity in diversity, that changes the way we see each other, our leadership, our teamwork, and the gospel that unites us all.

Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is the Assistant Director of the Center for the Development of Evangelical Leadership (CDEL) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte campus). She is the author of a mentoring book about intentional discipleship (Zondervan, February 2016). She is an inspirational speaker, freelance writer, and human trafficking advocate. Connect with Natasha through her official website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.