The Need for the lenses institute
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The 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 life of Christian faith, to renew our minds in the areas of ethnicity and culture we must be taught and trained to see, understand, and act differently; like Christ.
To this end the Institute trains and equips Christian leaders. The hope of the Institute is that the family of God would be one.
our Teaching Framework
Love one another as God in christ has loved you.
The Lenses Institute 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 a Biblical picture of unified diversity, or oneness, in the kingdom of God. We consider Jesus’ life and ministry across cultures. We consider 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. We consider 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 hand-crafted in different shapes, colors, sizes, genders, and with a multitude of cultures and ethnicities. Our goal is not to be “colorblind”, but rather, to see the beauty of God in the diversity of God’s people. In order to be one, 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 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.
Three-fold Learning mOdel
“DOn’t be a menace.”
Utilizing a mixed-media educational environment addressing all learning styles, the Lenses Institute learning model has three aims that are essential to any lasting personal and corporate change:
Each cohort member will have the opportunity to see the lenses through which they view the world, see through the lenses of people different from themselves, and see culture and ethnicity clearly displayed in the Bible.
As cohort members see and examine their lenses they will have the opportunity to understand how their lenses have been shaped by their culture, ethnicity, family, environment, and experiences. They will also begin to understand how historical and present day injustices affect us all.
In James 1:22, the brother of Jesus calls us to be doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. Seeing and understanding must lead to new action. Each cohort member will leave the Institute with a personalized plan to begin enacting change in their own lives, families, churches, ministries, and communities.