Worship, Preaching, and Justice
April 20, 2021
The above art by John August Swanson has served as a visual representation of the vision of Brehm Preaching—A Lloyd John Ogilvie Initiative, where we believe that catalyzing a movement of empowered, wise preachers means committing ourselves first and foremost to answering the call of Jesus to cast our nets in whatever lake, stream, or ocean we have been called to fish. We do that fishing through the convergence of worship, preaching, and justice—an integration that is vital to ensuring what we say and do in our sanctuaries connects with what we say and do in the world.
Church leaders need a place to practice this convergence ourselves, so we started Micah Groups in 2011 to help preachers engage in practices of worship and gospel exploration through courageous conversation in interracial, intercultural, interdenominational small groups. Micah Groups are built on the understanding that God has called the church to be an instrument of reconciliation and justice in our fractured world, requiring us not only to fish in our own ponds, but to do so through mutuality and solidarity with a wildly diverse community, empowering our efforts to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
One of our Micah Group team members mentioned recently that he’d been thinking about hosting a podcast for conversations that we never have in church. He started a list of topics, and as it grew longer and longer, he realized just how much we don’t talk about. “We’re afraid to talk about anything divisive,” he said, and as a result, “We leave people to learn about justice outside the church.”
We can’t answer the command to love our neighbor if we are too afraid to talk about our lives together. If we can’t love our neighbor, then we are not walking humbly, not loving mercy, and certainly not doing justice. This is why the Brehm Preaching Ogilvie Initiative is so committed to facilitating sacred space for courageous conversations, and we are now providing these opportunities for anyone—not just preachers or church leaders.
Micah Intensives are one-month, online small groups for anyone ready to wrestle with how God may be calling us to respond to a particular social issue of our time. You’ll learn key issues and history related to each topic and then explore the biblical and theological implications of several different Christian responses. The hope is that by learning to understand why people hold certain positions, we will grow in wisdom and insight toward God’s will regarding these complex issues.
Two upcoming Micah Intensives are on Mass Incarceration in May and Healthcare in June. While healthcare is something that impacts each and every one of us, the healthcare system is not something churches tend to concern themselves with; and while some churches have prison ministry outreach programs, most have no idea of the magnitude of human imprisonment in the United States. Furthermore, we are conditioned in the church to think of doing justice as doing a mission project, and what sort of project might we be asked to start if we get embroiled in a conversation on these topics? I wonder if your first thought was something like:
“That’s not the focus of our church.”
“We don’t have enough volunteers to do anything like that.”
“It’s not something I want to preach on.”
Engaging in courageous conversation around topics such as this is not about starting a new mission project or sermon series. It’s about looking up from our fishing boat and noticing what’s happening on the shore. That’s the scary part—because we just may find that Jesus is there, asking us to cast our nets in some new and uncomfortable way. I hope you’ll consider joining us anyway. Click here to signup for a Micah Intensive, or here to join our mailing list and learn about future offerings.
With you in hope and courage,
Director, Brehm Preaching—A Lloyd John Ogilvie Initiative