Published by IVP on July 18, 2023
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Racial Reconciliation
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Crises around race have put the church in a defensive posture, always reacting to racial conflicts in society. But Jesus wants more. He wants Christians to play offense by discipling people into a new humanity, where we push beyond mere diversity and into a biblical vision for ethnic unity.
Bryan Loritts calls Christians to proactively and intentionally live out the embodied reality of a people at one with one another. We play offense by practicing a robust gospel, preparing reliable leadership, and providing relational environments so that the church becomes the aroma of Christ to our culture and gains ground against the demonic foothold of racism in all its forms.
A couple semesters ago, I took a class in creating multicultural unity in the church as part of my Doctor of Ministry studies. With all due respect to my professors and the materials used in the class, this is the book we should have been using. The Offensive Church is a heartfelt and experience-driven testimony of building ethnic unity in the church. Building on his years of personal and professional experience, Bryan Lorrits offers churches and church leaders a path toward a unity that is more than token diversity.
One of the issues that sometimes arises in books about racial reconciliation and ethnic unity is that they aren’t palatable to their intended audience. The message is lost because of the tone. And while I feely very deeply that these more polemical works are justified and truth-filled, I also feel very deeply that they often fail to build bridges and accomplish the change they desire to see. The Offensive Church, perhaps ironically, isn’t offensive. Instead, Lorrits offers a compassionate and irenic tone that stems from his prevailing thesis of building relational environments.
Through this, Lorrits offers a difficult but biblical message to Black Christians: forgive your oppressor. Lorrits walks the line between downplaying the brutal realities of historical and present racism and being unable to break free from the chains of its trauma. The message he presents to all people, regardless of ethnicity, is that identity in Christ is greater than identity in ethnicity. But he also upholds the value of ethnicity and outlines with clarity the pitfalls of being “colorblind.” The church presented in The Offensive Church is one that calls its people to repent, to forgive, to see the perspective of others, and to take on the mindset of Christ.
The Offensive Church is a challenging work, one that goes beyond the theme of building ethnic unity. The solutions that Lorrits provides—reliable leadership, a focus on discipleship, the creation of relational communities—are the solution to much of what ails the church. In the end, maybe it really is as simple as truly knowing and loving one another. In one of the book’s chapters, Lorrits writes that being a reconciler means having gentleness, patience, and humility. That tone is the hallmark of The Offensive Church and indicative of the type of culture the church must have if we are to find unity.