Churches, Cultures & Leadership


About Us

Mark Lau Branson, Ed.D.

“How does a white boy from Kansas receive an  ordination from an African American Pentecostal church in San Francisco? What is the relevance of marrying someone who is Chinese American? Or  teaching in Peru? Or coaching pastors in the Philippines? Or being a member of a Japanese American church? Or teaching and writing with a Mexican American colleague?” That’s the opening paragraph from my ethnic autobiography in the book.

All of these experiences and contexts – and others – have provided insights, shaped my perspectives, and changed how I view Christian discipleship. In my professional life I have served on the pastoral teams in United Methodist and Presbyterian churches and worked with several Christian agencies active in campus ministry, education, community development, and community organizing. I am a consultant/speaker with The Missional Network – this book is part of an IVP series published in partnership with TMN. My graduate degrees are from Claremont School of Theology (M.A.) and the University of San Francisco (Ed.D.).  Previous publications include Memories, Hopes, and Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry and Congregational Change (Alban) and chapters in The Missional Church in Context (Craig Van Gelder, ed.), Leadership in Congregations (Richard Bass, ed.), and The Three Tasks of Leadership (Eric Jacobsen, ed.).

My teaching at Fuller Theological Seminary, in masters and doctoral programs, is focused on congregational leadership, forming learning communities, and missional engagement. Al Roxburgh and I teach D.Min cohorts on missional leadership, and I work with Juan on a similar program in Spanish. I also work with Juan and others in the Ph.D. program in practical theology. I enjoy friendships and shared interests with the Academy of Religious Leadership and the Ekklesia Project. Locally, I am on the board of the Institute for Urban Initiatives and OneCommnity: A Grassroots Thinktank.

Nina and I, along with our sons, are active at First Presbyterian Church, Altadena, California.

Juan F. Martínez, Ph.D.

Juan F. Martínez, Ph.D.

My life journey has taken me through small towns in south Texas and Central California. As part of my formation, I attended a Spanish-language Bible institute in south Texas, earned an M. Div. at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (Fresno, California), and a Th. M. and Ph. D. at Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, California). I have served as a pastor in south Texas and central California. For several years I also oversaw Latino ministry for my denomination and started a Spanish-language Bible institute. God’s call to leadership development then took our family to Guatemala where I was the Rector of SEMILLA, the Anabaptist Seminary in Central America.

I am a Latino Anabaptist evangélico living in exile in the United States. I recognize that “exile” is a theological motif that fits both my Anabaptist theology and my life experience as a Latino. If you ask me where I am from, I will need to respond with a question. Do you want to know about my ancestors, my birth, my family or my life journey? As a Christian I believe God is in the midst of shaping me to cross cultural boundaries; to have an awareness concerning persons who are culturally, socially or economically different; and to teach others who want to be servants of the gospel of reconciliation.

Most recently I wrote Walk with the People: Latino Ministry in the United States/Caminando entre el pueblo Ministerio latino en los Estados Unidos (2008) and Sea la Luz: The Making of Mexican Protestantism in the American Southwest, 1829-1900 (2006). I also co-edited Los Evangélicos: Portraits of Latino Protestantism in the United States with Lindy Scott (2009 English, 2004 Spanish) and Vivir y servir desde el exilio (2007) with Jorge Maldonado and served as a regional editor of IVP´s Global Dictionary of Theology (2008).

I am an associate dean at Fuller in charge of the Hispanic Center. Mark and I have taught courses together in both the Masters and D.Min. programs. When I am not working at Fuller I coordinate the Los Angeles chapter of the Latin American Theological Fellowship (FTL by its acronym in Spanish) and am currently president of the Asociación de Educación Teológica Hispana, the association of Latino theological educators in the US. I also enjoy woodworking.

Olga, my wife, is a Montessori schoolteacher and is originally from Cuba. Our daughter, Xaris, is a Ph.D. student in US religious history and our son, Josué, is a musician. He is married to Jackie. Olga and I are part of Iglesia del Pacto in Eagle Rock, CA.

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Site Overview


By engaging ethnic histories and hearing personal autobiographies we are participating in God's creative work of shaping and reshaping church life and mission.

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Part I: Theology and Context

Using the frameworks of practical theology and missional ecclesiology, we provide an introduction to the work of leadership and to social theory, including matters of social contexts, cultural variables, and ethnic identity.

Part II: Sociocultural Perspectives

Cultural anthropology provides insights into social power and human dynamics that vary among cultures. Topics include worldviews, relationships, identity, language, and perception and thinking.

Part III: Leadership, Communication and Change

We need to develop the skills and capacities for communication and leadership in intercultural settings in order to engage the challenges of church life and mission in multicultural contexts.


We are assembling resources for pastors, professors, and students -- websites, cinema, documentaries, group exercises, books, and Bible studies.