Multiplicity Conference 2024
January 15, 2024 | Debbie Boyce & Amelia Neumann
On February 24, 2024, Stone Hill Church, along with Central Church and The Perfecting Church, will co-host the second annual Multiplicity Conference, a day-long conference embracing the biblical vision of diversity in churches. The first Multiplicity Conference, held in February 2023, was an important first step in our . We heard from three speakers (Mark DeYmaz, Mark Catlin, and Angela Brown) on essential topics of race and justice, and their intersection with discipleship in the local church. You can listen to all of these sessions at https://www.mdiversityconference.com/. This year, we are excited to build on the foundations of the inaugural Multiplicity Conference by learning from our keynote speaker, Dr. Bryan Loritts.
Dr. Loritts is the Teaching Pastor at The Summit Church in Durham, NC. He is also the author of eight books, the co-founder of Fellowship Memphis, President of the Kainos Movement, Vice President of Regions for the Send Network, a regular visiting professor at Grimke Seminary, and member of the board for Biola University. He has spent the bulk of his ministry serving the multiethnic church.
Lately, I have spent some time reading his most recent book, The Offensive Church: Breaking the Cycle of Ethnic Disunity, which calls upon Christians to lead the way toward racial unity in society by adopting a proactive stance informed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, rather than constantly playing defense on racial issues. Loritts offers a candid and practical perspective that I believe can be useful to our church. I will highlight just three below.
First, multiple studies report that the chasm between White Evangelicals and African Americans has greatly widened in the last twenty years. But Loritts is concerned about more than division between black and white. The Scriptures call us to pursue unity in the Church. In his own words, Loritts contends that “the church must play offense by demonstrating a paradigm of discipleship that is both vertical and horizontal, showing people how to walk with God and with each other” (12).
Second, Loritts distinguishes between the presence of diversity and the further call to unity. A church may have diverse congregants, yet fail to function as a unified, loving body. Unity cannot be achieved without talking about topics of concern to those diverse congregants. Many of us fear having conversations about race, expressing concerns that these conversations just make things worse. Loritts vehemently urges us to form relationships with diverse congregants. He prescribes that we learn from others who are not like us, openly lament the racial divides both in our society and in our churches, and live in real relationships with one another. There will inevitably be misspeaking and insensitivity in our relating, but he urges congregants to stay put rather than leave the church or cancel one another.
Finally, we play “offense” when we live in obedience to the multi-ethnic vision of the church, rather than playing “defense” when we react in fear of our church becoming “too woke” on the one hand or failing to speak correctly or often enough about racial issues on the other hand. I think of our congregation as a family comprised of many individuals, each with their own sensitivities. For example, when we set aside time to voice lament over a recent tragic event, we acknowledge each other’s pain and grant visibility to someone who might otherwise feel isolated.
I greatly encourage you to check out The Offensive Church to prepare yourself for this opportunity to hear and learn more at this year’s Multiplicity Conference.
We on the Koinonia Team hope many of you will consider coming to this conference. Curt and Christina Saxton of Ekklesia of North Philadelphia are joining Dr. Lorrits in the speaker lineup. Ekklesia is made up of Black and Latino congregants. There will also be a panel discussion combining pastors of the planning churches, the speakers, and others, and time will be given for discussion in small groups with those from other churches. The cost is $35.00 and lunch is included. Register today!
Suggested Reading for those wishing to dive deeper (Many of these resources can be borrowed from the church library)
Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West.
Lee, Erika. The Making of Asian America: A History.
Tisby, Jemar. The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism.
Vroegop, Mark. Weep with Me.