What could happen if we invited our churches to celebrate Christmas differently?
Read about the "Advent Conspiracy" — a movement to make Christmas a revolutionary event by worshiping fully, spending less, giving more, and loving all.
And … see how next week you can make twice the gift and send twice the love to families in need!
In the face of upsetting world events and unsettling debates about how to respond to those events, I’d like to tell you about my favorite conspiracy. In fact, I’m asking you to be a part of it.
A few years ago, a handful of pastors—including my good friends Chris Seay and Rick McKinley—began talking about the Advent Season. And the truth is, we began to lament that—like many of you—we were sensing that our friends, families, churches, and in some ways, we ourselves were getting sucked into the craziness. Folks would get to the end of the season worn out, in debt, overweight (I know, now I’m getting personal), and with this weird and depressing sense that they’d missed it. They’d missed the point of Christmas.
Now that’s not a new observation. Many of you are familiar with how difficult it is to find a sense of balance when it comes to everything that happens during this season. But here’s what we came up with: what if we invited our churches to celebrate Christmas differently?
What if we gave them just four simple thoughts to consider, to rally around—not in a grumpy, “bah-humbug we hate Christmas, we hate the world, but we still love Jesus” way that we’d seen others try—but what if there was a winsome, straight-forward way to invite people back into the story of Christmas? Could we conspire against all the other messages and pressures that push on us during this season?
So we talked about these four points:
Worship Fully. Let’s make no apologies about the point of the story. We celebrate the birth of Jesus—God incarnate—the one sent to redeem us, to rescue us, to restore us.
Spend Less. Let’s not push ourselves deeper into debt so the pile of presents around the tree can be three feet high. There’s just no connection between the story of Jesus and stopping by the mall to mindlessly buy a gift that someone doesn’t need with money you don’t have.
Give more. Wait. That sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? Maybe not. What if we gave what we called “relational gifts?” These gifts to each other may require more thought and probably more of us. Like when a young man gave a bag of coffee beans to his dad. Huh? The note on the gift says it all: “Dad you are only allowed to drink the coffee from these beans with me. And in the days that it takes us to enjoy this coffee, I just want to hear your voice. I miss you and this is just for us.” That gift just became relational.
And finally, there was this: Love All. What if we took just some of the money that we saved from not buying Uncle Murray that sweater he was never going to wear anyway … what if we took some of that money and we gave it to those in need … those who are overlooked … those whom Jesus referred to as “the least of these?”
That was the start of a little counter-cultural movement now known as the Advent Conspiracy. It’s grown to include thousands of churches, youth groups, and Christ followers in over 20 countries on every continent!
And now I’d like to invite you to join us. Just to be clear: you can’t send money to us. We don’t want it. Yes, we are inviting you to celebrate Christmas differently. But there’s also this: in the midst of frustrated and even fearful tones this season, one of the things that could distinguish a Christ-follower at Christmas is a love that reaches out to the hungry and thirsty, the sick and imprisoned, the unclothed and completely forgotten.
Even if they are refugees of the Syrian crisis.
So did this just get political? Not really. Not at all. I’m asking you to consider on this Giving Tuesday what it would mean to love “the least of these” who are living on the border between Lebanon and Syria. They are barely out of harm’s way, but they are not out of trouble. With limited resources and a hope that has all but evaporated, these families are not going anywhere. They won’t be showing up on Europe’s doorstep. They cannot even imagine life halfway around the world in the United States. They are staying close to home—because they have to, and frankly because they want to someday go home.
So would you conspire with me this Advent Season? Let’s worship our great and glorious King. Let’s not get sucked into the lie that spending money carelessly is how we celebrate Christmas. Let’s do give more of ourselves to friends and family with thoughtful, creative expressions of love.
And then there’s this: we who know the relief and joy of God’s grace firsthand, let’s show the world in an outrageously unselfish way. Let’s love people we don’t know and whose names we may never know.
Yes, the news this season is unsettling at times. But we who follow Jesus are being called deeper into the story. God is still at work, getting things done in our chaotic and fractured world. That’s why I’m asking you to join our little conspiracy. You pray about what that looks like for you and your family. God will lead you. I’ll just say this much: it’s worth it. The kind of life with God that gets involved—that notices the less fortunate, the feels the pain of a friend, that knows sarcasm is a cheap substitute for joy, that forgives freely and laughs deeply and cries openly, that truly gives to others this Christmas—this kind of life with God is fuller and freer and, well, it’s worth it.
Let’s conspire together.
On Giving Tuesday—one week from today!—join us in giving more and loving all. Next Tuesday, our continued partnership with direct sales company Thirty-One Gifts takes a new, exciting step forward.
Any donation made to World Vision USA on Giving Tuesday, December 1, Thirty-One Gifts will match with a donation of product … up to $1,000,000!
These donated products, including blankets and clothing, will be used to support families in need all around the world through our programs—and will include Syrian refugees in Armenia. Every Giving Tuesday gift you make to World Vision will become twice the gift and twice the love to families in need around the world.
Greg Holder is the Lead Pastor at The Crossing Church in Chesterfield, MO and a co-founder of Advent Conspiracy a movement of people who want to make Christmas a revolutionary event by worshiping fully, spending less, giving more, and loving all.