Church & Parachurch
The Lenses Institute for church and parachurch leaders is designed to equip leaders from a broad range of ministerial disciplines. We equip pastors, elders, church boards, lay-leaders, church support staff, campus ministers, domestic and international missionaries, ministry support staff, and many others. In John 17 Jesus states that our greatest apologetic to an unbelieving and divided world, is loving one another and truly being one. As it relates to race, power, culture, and ethnicity, the church has a beautiful, tragic, and not-yet-finished journey of becoming one. The world continues to grow in conflict and complexity at the convergence of race, power, culture, and ethnicity. We hold the hope of a better story. Are we ready?
We see a day when the ethnically and culturally diverse people of God are seeing, understanding, and acting in ways that display to the world that our God is one.
We exist to equip the people of God to fight for oneness by influencing the way Christian leaders see, understand, and act in our ethnically and culturally diverse world.
The Lenses Institute for church and parachurch leaders is a five-day intensive training platform that aims to help the Church fight for oneness by influencing the way Christian leaders see, understand, and act in our ethnically and culturally diverse world. Through a mixed-media curriculum, our facilitators address the intellect, heart, and hands of the participants, with a desired hope that each cohort member experience personal, and thus corporate transformation. During the Institute we consider the following:
A Biblical picture of unified diversity, or oneness, in the kingdom of God.
Jesus’ life and ministry across cultures.
Our own lenses which define how we see, understand, and act in our world. These lenses are shaped by our own ethnic identity, cultural context, family background, national history, and personal experiences.
How these lenses shape the way we think about and minister to the various people in our homes, our churches, our communities, and the world.
The Institute seeks to help participants tackle the challenges of seeing, loving, and serving people the way God does. God is not a colorblind God. We have been intentionally hand-crafted in different shapes, colors, sizes, genders, and with a multitude of cultures and ethnicities. Our goal is not to be ‘colorblind’ but instead to see the beauty of God in the diversity of God’s people. In order to be one, as Jesus said we would be in John 17, we must learn to celebrate and learn from the experience of one another.
While the Lenses Institute is a training platform, it is also a movement. The Institute is a made up of a collective we. The we includes the Lenses Group, all of our local partners, cultural guides, expert practitioners, and all the ministry leaders that have completed the Institute. As co-learners and co-laborers we trumpet God’s vision for oneness.
Ultimately, the Lenses Institute equips leaders to See, Understand, and Act.
Why develop Christian leaders?
The Christian Scriptures are clear. In Revelation 5:9-10 John gives a glimpse into eternity with God:
And they sang a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.'
The family that Christ purchased with His blood is one. The family is not homogenous, but ethnically and culturally diverse, dynamic, different, and yet united. There IS oneness in the eternal family of God.
There are some who claim that we live in a ‘post-racial’ society. Yet, when we pay close attention and think critically, we can clearly see the structures in our society, the words and actions of people, and the thoughts that come to our own minds often tell a different story.
Amidst a diverse, dynamic, and beautiful world, there is still much division. The Church, called to oneness as the family of God, as beautiful as she is, is not yet complete. The ethnic and cultural divisions plaguing our world still affect her. She is not yet living the eternal reality. She is one, yet not fully one.
In the classic passage of Romans 12:1-2, the Apostle Paul calls us to ‘not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind.’ As with any aspect of the Christian life, to renew our minds in the areas of ethnicity and culture we must be taught and equipped to see, understand, and act differently; like Christ.