A few weeks ago, close to 2,000 people gathered in person for The Alpha Conference, with over 2,000 more joining us online. Father John Riccardo set the tone and illuminated the theme of the conference in his opening address when he asked the question:
“What does it mean to say ‘love listens’?”
This question reverberated through eight inspiring mainstage messages, 16 workshops, and numerous conversations with diverse leaders. It was a question whose answer was woven through the stories of transformation that were shared during our time together; and one we were able practice as we shared meals, our personal experiences, learned from one another, and worshipped and prayed together.
“The idea of ‘love listens’ and how we can use that concept as a means to make connections with folks who may be far from God is so pertinent to what we are doing. I was also grateful that the speakers at The Alpha Conference were sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit in urging us [the Church] toward unity and reconciliation.” —Conference Attendee
The Alpha Conference was a time of encouragement and hope, and a time of challenge—to look at what it means to actively engage with the world, at this time, that makes a difference.
When our love listens, we seek the path of unity across dividing lines. We build bridges by looking not to convince, but to understand. This is the work of compassion, of empathy, of being fully present with one another.
When our love listens, we see brothers and sisters, not enemies. We see people imbued with the image of God and welcome one another by creating spaces for different voices, backgrounds, and perspectives to be heard.
Listening in love acknowledges the dignity of the speaker and provides an opportunity for learning and growth for the listener.
Those gathered represented multiple Christian expressions, diverse ethnic groups, and cultures. Perfect agreement in a group that size and that diverse would have been nearly impossible. But we are not called to perfect agreement; we are called to love and to unity.
Throughout the conference, we had an opportunity to put incarnational listening – to listen like Jesus listened into practice. Pastor Glenn Packiam helped us to answer the question posed in the beginning, when he reminded us that:
“If you set this kind of table (listening table) Jesus will take over.”
We were blessed to be with you at The Alpha Conference 2022 and invite you to watch the highlight reel from our time together. Then, save the date! Plan to join us at The Alpha Conference 2023, January 26-27. Sign up to receive updates directly to your inbox.