Found on the Witness, Mercy, Life Together blog:
The National Mission Conference (September 20-22, 2011) began today with worship and a sermon by President Harrison based on Acts 2:14-28. In his sermon, the task of Christians is to bring forgiveness to people. The audio to the sermon may be listened to below or downloaded here.
After the sermon, Rev. Bart Day, Executive Director of the Office of National Mission (ONM), provided an overview of the ONM. Rev. Day explained that the Office of National Mission includes RSOs, Youth, Schools, Stewardship, Worship, and Church and Community Engagement. Each of these areas include various sub-areas, the largest being the area of Church and Community Engagement, which includes items such as Hispanic and Ethnic ministry, Black ministry, church planting, Gospel seeds, revitalization, the 72, rural ministry, et. al.
The goal of this conference is this conference is to listen to each other and to discuss with the District Presidents and various national mission leaders the best way to carry out the task of national mission. Priorities may also be identified and suggested.
In his address to the group, Rev. Day indicated the importance of listening to one another and how he was there to listen to this group. To emphasize the importance of listening, Rev. Day quoted the following passage from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, which he has used in staff devotions:
The first service one owes to others in the community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives us God’s Word, but also lends us God’s ear. We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them. So often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is always to have to ‘offer’ something when they are together with other people. They forgot that listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening. But Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either; they will always be talking even in the presence of God. The death of the spiritual life starts here, and in the end there is nothing left but empty spiritual chatter and clerical condescension which chokes on pious words. Those who cannot listen long and patiently will always be talking past others, and finally no longer will even notice it. Those who think their time is too precious to spend listening will never really have time for God and others, but only for themselves and for their own words and plans.
(Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. “Life Together.” In Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, 5:1-139, 1987, 98).
The National Mission Conference is off to a good start. More information on the conference will appear later in the Reporter.