Doing Micah Online?
Aug 14, 2020
A couple of months ago, I ran out of superlatives to describe our current times. Pandemic fears melted into quarantine anxieties, revealing the deep fractures of our society—none more devastating than reckoning with our country’s ongoing story of racism. And while none of this is over, we imminently face what is arguably the most divisive and consequential elections we have ever faced. I need another way of saying “unprecedented.”
It seems rather obvious that we need some sort of space to process all of this. Like many of you, the default space for me turned out to be social media—our socially distanced realities left us with few options. And again, like it was for many of you, it was about as fruitful as when I used to spend hours during my college years arguing for/against TULIP. Actually, this has been worse, far worse. Even in the more like-minded spaces, there is just so much information overload (“You must read this!”), fragility and accusations of fragility, virtue signaling, etc., that I would come away feeling more overwhelmed from the participation, rather than better.
Fairly early on during these times, I remember thinking “We need spaces like Micah Groups to process this, but online.” A guided courageous conversation that encouraged empathetic listening to different perspectives as an integral part of our call as disciples? This is exactly what is needed, but I wondered if an online version could capture the “real life” experience of being in the same room with people. Could you do empathy through Zoom? Can you build enough trust for people to feel safe in sharing? Can you do silence? I had my doubts, but again, our COVID-defined reality limited our options.
I decided to take a chance and offer a Micah Intensive on Doing Justice: Racism to my church members. The response was—and forgive me for using this word again—overwhelming, which is to say I wasn’t alone in wanting to process our reality, in the context of Christian discipleship. From the very first session, it was obvious to everyone in the group that these conversations would be different, and was precisely what we needed. Honestly, these have been some of the most meaningful conversations I have ever participated in with congregants in my ministry career. I suspect it is the result of the combination of our times, with a generous, courageous space emphasized in Micah Groups. No, meeting in Zoom is not the same as meeting in person, but the space for courageous conversation is real. And for me, it finally feels productive in processing these unprecedented times.
You don’t have to take my word for it. If you’re looking for a space like this yourself, consider joining a Micah Intensive this September. If you are already a trained facilitator, you can also use the same material to run your own groups, and we can help you with best practices for the transition to online. We are also prepping now for an all-online facilitator training later in the Fall for those who would like to become facilitators. I hope you’ll join us in moving the fruitful work of Micah Groups to do these new online spaces.
Rev. Dr. Jin Cho
Micah Groups Mobilizer
Lead Your Own Online Micah Group
Micah Groups content is available for use in your own groups—whether a traditional Micah Group of church leaders or a small group from your church or ministry community.
Doing Justice: Racism (as well as eleven other topics in the Doing Justice series) is a direct look at a range of responses from Christians. The goal is to begin to understand the theology and values that drive people to land in one part of the spectrum or another, so that we can learn to engage in courageous conversation and move nearer to God’s will for us. Requires previous facilitator training for use in your own group.
COST: $15 per person
First Things for Flourishing is a general access version of all twelve “First Things” topics from the Micah Groups curriculum, which focuses on how we are to be formed as followers of Christ so we may discern how we are being called to serve the body of Christ. This is a helpful starting place for those who are just beginning to learn about anti-racism and other important justice issues, as it helps lay important theological foundations that will aid more direct forms of courageous conversation group.
COST: $50 per person
(The original First Things curriculum specific to preachers and church leaders is also available.)
Schedule a Private Micah Intensive
The Ogilvie Institute can provide a private Micah Intensive for your group of 5-10 people, led by a trained Micah Groups facilitator, and scheduled over a one-month time period of your choosing. This is a great option for introducing your staff, committee, or board not only to the material but to the entire process of a courageous conversation, allowing you to participate as a group member rather than the designated leader.
COST: starting at $500
Become a Trained Facilitator
Micah Group facilitators are experienced church leaders who are committed to the convergence of worship, preaching, and justice, have a vision for bridge-building, and are committed to building relationships across denominational, ethnic, gender, and other cultural divides. Our Micah Group Mobilizers are planning a new, fully online Facilitator Training course that will be available later this fall. Email email@example.com to learn more.