If 2016 has made one thing clear, it’s that the national conversation about race has changed forever. It’s 153 years after Emancipation, 51 years after Jim Crow, and 2 years after Ferguson, and Americans everywhere are working, fighting, and struggling to come to grips with the shadows of racial violence and discrimination that stain our nation’s past, haunt our present, and cast doubts over our future. In our cities, neighborhoods, and homes, we’re having hard conversations about America’s makeup: conversations that have been decades in the making. And, not surprisingly, many of those same conversations are challenging and changing our churches as well.
Bryan Loritts, Lead Pastor of Mountainview, California’s Abundant Life Christian Fellowship, is one Christian leader who has decided to welcome both the promises and challenges of multiethnic ministry with open arms. As the former cofounder of a multiethnic church plant in Memphis and the current president of the Kainos Movement, Loritts has seen firsthand how diversity can change churches for the better. Now, with the tech industry drawing people from across the world to his church’s Silicon Valley home, he’s learned a thing or two about how churches everywhere can respond to national questions of race and ethnicity:
In July, we have all this crazy stuff happening. The thing happens in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and that man gets killed—Alton Sterling. And then Philando Castile happens the next day. And then these Dallas police officers are brutally massacred by an evil person. So I go, “Huh—I’ve gotta speak into this at our church.” It’s my first time at the church actually speaking into race. ...1
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