Q&A with Micah Glenn

Q&A with Micah Glenn


Rev. Micah Glenn is the executive director of Lutheran Hope Center in Ferguson, Missouri. He is married to Deaconess Dorothy Glenn and they have three chil- dren: Jonathan (4), Talitha (2) and David (1).

Q: People today are hesitant to share beliefs or talk about faith because they are afraid of the conflict it might stir up. What do you see as the main challenges and opportunities for sharing faith in a tense political climate?

The first challenge for sharing faith in our political environment is how generalized and polarized these discussions become. If you’re pro-life you get labeled a woman-hater. If you believe in social programming for the underserved, then you’re an America-hating communist. This naturally prevents any worthwhile dialogue from taking place.

I also think people have a great fear of being exposed on mass level through social media. It’s difficult to have a private conversation with someone in public, when an eavesdropper can screenshot or video your conversation, put it on Twitter or Facebook and a few million people can see what you said in a matter of a couple days—and these platforms easily skew the context of what was said.

But the greatest challenge I find is that people sometimes let their political party dictate where they fall on faith topics of a social nature. Even if their confession of faith contradicts their political party, they are afraid of what their political comrades will think if they disagree on certain issues.

Q: We were surprised to find that Millennials express more interest in spiritual conversations than older Americans. In your experience, what are the differences between spiritual conversations you have with youth and those you’ve had with adults? 02

Most of the conversations I have with youth are focused on how the word of God applies to their everyday life in response to what they see in the world. Youth I know want to be able to translate biblical themes into their different vocational contexts: school, work, friendships and so on. They want to know how to behave in a Christian manner toward people, especially people that are different from them, and so many of our spiritual conversations focus on love and compassion. They’re also thirsty for answers about the pain and suffering in the world. In all of these things, simple one-word answers—like saying it’s because of sin or the Fall—are unacceptable. You have to be willing to dig deeply into these conversation.

The conversations I have with older adults lean toward apologetics. Youth care about apologetics, but in my experience not nearly as much as their parents do. These conversations take many forms, but usually they move in a direction of examining the problem, then applying an answer, whether the answer requires further research or they already have the solution at hand. Conversations with older adults are also tinged with concerns about legacy. They want the next generation to be passionate about the things they think are most important, so that faith will be passed on from generation to generation.

Q: You work in a culturally and ethnically diverse area. Do you notice unique characteristics in how different communities approach spiritual conversations and topics?

In my experience, white Christians tend to be far more worried than black Christians about offending someone, especially a person they don’t know, in a faith conversation. Of course outliers exist in both ethnic groups, but more often than not when I’m having a conversation with a black person, there just aren’t any taboo topics.

Other great differences are between socioeconomic groups. It can be difficult and somewhat insensitive to talk to someone about the eternal prosperity to come when Jesus returns when the person you’re talking to is worried about where they will sleep or what they are going to eat. For those of us who are well fed and fairly paid with benefits, the future glory of God’s kingdom is something we can easily look forward to. It is more than possible, of course, to experience joy and peace even when one’s basic needs aren’t met, but those of us who don’t struggle to make ends meet should be humble and sensitive about how we challenge those who do.

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