Moving Forward: Better Addressing Racial Diversity in Our Churches

by Brian Gray

“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” – Richard Rohr

After the events in Charlottesville and the aftermath of public commentary, you may have felt sadness, anger, confusion, desire for change. But with the layers of systemic, historical, and personal racial bias fueling these all-too-frequent cultural moments, it’s hard to know how to respond well.

And many of us have felt the disappointment of looking at our churches and seeing them as less racially diverse than we’d like them to be. “That’s just neighborhood demographics,” the rhetoric often goes. Or perhaps we’re not sure how central versus secondary racial diversity should be in our churches. Maybe the issue feels too complicated or insurmountable or we simply don’t know where to start to make inroads.

And so Dr. King’s words still bear weight almost 50 years later: “I think it is one of the tragedies of our nation – one of the shameful tragedies – that 11 o’clock on Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours…in Christian America.”

For our Fall quarter Church Partner staff development, we want to help one another to better address racial diversity in our churches. We’ve created an honest, hopeful, non-guilt based, learning and praxis environment for church leaders. Pablo Otaola (see bio below) will lead sessions to help us develop greater Cultural Awareness and Cultural Intelligence that translate into practical action steps within our churches. During the final hour of the morning, Derrick Kelsey – Embassy Church Pastor of Missional Communities – will join Pablo on a Q&A panel to share experiences and practices from their congregation.

You can’t solve this issue. You can’t do nothing. You can take a next step forward in your church.

This event is complimentary for our Church Partners, and we’d encourage you to invite any culture shapers on your staff to enhance the discussions on practical steps within your congregations. We’ll provide light refreshments. Park in our visitor parking by entering the 600 Grant St. from the 6th Ave garage entrance.


We’re prayerful and hopeful for this time. Let us know if you have any questions or hopes for the day.

Pablo Otaola is an Argentine immigrant who was born in 1980 and immigrated to the US in 1990. Once in the US, his parents became church planters with Spanish-speaking low-socioeconomic Central American families. In 2013, Pablo and his family moved to Denver, CO where Pablo is now the Metro Developer for Denver Young Life and acts as the Cultural Intelligence Trainer and the Director of the Emerging Leaders Development Initiative.

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Brian Gray

Brian is the VP of Formation here at DIFW and also leads our 5280 Fellowship program. Prior to landing at DIFW, he served in pastoral ministry for thirteen years and at Denver Seminary for four years. His vocation includes moving ideas out into life through relationships and conversation – whether that applies to God, work, the Church, good beer, or Liverpool Football Club. He married way out of his league, and spends most of his free-time being parented by his two daughters.