Engaging With Diversity: An Invitation To “Better Together”

Geno Olison, pastor of the South Suburban Vineyard just outside Chicago, would like to invite you to a conference at the Evanston Vineyard this fall.

Geno Olison

Lead Pastor, South Suburban Vineyard, Flossmoor, IL

Why Do We Need An Ethnic Diversity Conference in the Vineyard?

The Vineyard has an ethnic diversity ‘problem.’ It may be hard to hear that statement; but it’s even harder to disagree with it.

Since it’s hard to disagree with that statement, we as the Vineyard have proactively asked “What are we going to do about it?” The answer: Let’s talk about it — and by talk about it, I mean let’s have a really candid conversation about diversity in the Vineyard.

Our First Diversity Conference

On Nov 15-17, 2016 Evanston Vineyard is hosting the Vineyard’s first ever ethnic diversity conference, BETTER TOGETHER: Race Reconciliation and the Multiethnic Church. We’ve invited an impressive group of qualified thinkers, leaders and experts, from both in and outside of the Vineyard, to speak to us about the problems and the solutions. We’ll discuss why this is an important and necessary issue, how we got here and how we can move toward change.

This meeting’s goal is to help us to figure out just how we should “do” ethnic diversity in the Vineyard. I believe we know it’s important, we know that we struggle in this area, but we can find it difficult to really know just how to walk this out in meaningful ways.

Reconciliation, Multiethnic Churches, And Transitions

We are gathering to engage Vineyard pastors and leaders on the issue of racial reconciliation, planting multiethnic churches, and transitioning current homogenous churches into multiethnic ones.

This meeting pairs well with VUSA’s pledge to narrow its collective focus on EDLD (Evangelism, Discipleship, Leadership Development, Diversity). While we may generally understand evangelism, discipleship and how to recruit and develop leaders, it’s been a real struggle to consistently foster and grow significant ethnic diversity in the Vineyard.

I’ve heard it said that “if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” It’s important to understand that diversity doesn’t happen on its own. We are naturally drawn to our own kinds and we naturally attract those who are like us.

Becoming An Ethnically Diverse Movement

This truth has and will inform and influence how we do evangelism, discipleship and who eventually becomes a leader in the Vineyard. I believe that if our value for diversity doesn’t impact this process at the right point, we’ll continue to get what we’ve always gotten – a movement lacking significant ethnic diversity.

Many have sensed the Spirit moving us toward healing and reconciliation in the Vineyard. We experienced a historic moment of healing and reconciliation at the national conference in Columbus, OH. Dr. Charles Montgomery’s “A House Without Walls” sermon set the stage for unprecedented repentance and reconciliation and a real Holy Spirit moment that will be talked about for years to come.

That moment, while powerful, left many asking, “what’s next?” In many ways, BETTER TOGETHER is a follow up to that powerful moment in Columbus.

You Won’t Want To Miss This

We’ve spent over a year praying for and planning this meeting so that we can begin to tackle diversity in a way that is both thoughtful and honest.

With four dynamic main sessions, eight different plenary speakers, over a dozen workshops and powerful worship led by a diverse group of some of the Vineyard’s best singers and musicians, this conference is one that you won’t want to miss!


To register, visit the Better Together event page here.