What To Expect

At each Lenses Institute we can expect:

  • To be cared for, ministered to, and encouraged as a person and minister
  • Five days in the host city connecting and learning with other AIA staff and local partners
  • A gospel - focused environment that will help us discover the "lenses" through which we view the world
  • A learning environment and schedule suitable for adults only
  • Intensive training that will help us become more effective cross-cultural learners and ministers of the gospel
  • Active - learning designed to educate our minds, transform our hearts, and equip our hands
  • To be encouraged and challenged to embrace an intentional growth process
  • Cultural experiences native to the training locale
  • A mixed - media curriculum including group activities, lecture, movie discussion, reading, and practical life experience and application
  • Teaching and training from local experts and practitioners
  • A Biblical perspective on ethnicity and culture
  • A personalized plan for practical next steps

What is Lenses?

The Lenses Institute exists to continue the development of Athletes in Action (AIA) staff and partners as we seek to be cross-cultural learners and ministers in the diverse and strategic world of athletics. The Institute seeks to help us tackle the challenges of seeing, loving, and serving people the way God does. The goal is not to be “colorblind”, but rather, to see the beauty of God in the diversity of His people while celebrating and learning from the experience of others.

The Lenses Institute is a five-day intensive training that addresses the mind, heart, and will, as we look at a biblical picture of diversity and unity in the kingdom of God. We consider Jesus’ life and ministry across cultures while also considering our own "lenses" which shape the way we see the world; "lenses" that 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 communities, our churches, our athletic departments, and the world.

The Lenses Institute helps us to See, Understand, and Act.

Why Lenses?

There are some who claim that we live in a “post-racial” society. Yet, when we pay close attention, the structures in our society, the actions and words people speak, and the thoughts that come to our minds often tell a different story.

The Lenses Institute was birthed out of the research and recommendations given by the Athletes in Action Diversity Task Force and the Diversity Leadership Team. In 2010, the Diversity Task Force, comprised of AIA staff members and outside experts, put forth a plan outlining recommendations and next steps for Athletes in Action to take so that we could more fully honor God’s vision for diversity both in our own hearts and lives and within the organization. This plan states:

“Training and staff development needs to be re-examined to reflect a commitment to diversity as a major challenge to the success of AIA…Training is the first action point for AIA to become missional. The diversity piece is a non-negotiable element of the Great Commission.”

Diversity has been identified as THE challenge of our mission and we want to respond to this challenge for the glory of God and the good of all people. We are coming together to SEE how race, ethnicity, and culture impact our view of people and life. We are coming together to begin to UNDERSTAND and learn from the experiences of others, and to understand the impact of the past on the present situations in our world. Lastly, it is our hope and expectation that what we see and begin to understand will cause us to ACT and more fully excel in helping bring the kingdom of God to earth, a kingdom where every nation, tribe, and tongue come together in holy solidarity to love God and love one another. We must change in order to fulfill the call of God on our lives and ministry.