Advent is the time of year for churches’ to expand people’s hearts, people’s understanding of Christmas, faith, and religion, and expand their programming. Advent is a great on-ramp for people, who are looking for a faith or a church, to enter into our congregations. It is a great time for churches’ to bridge the space between the church building and their homes (and their families.)
Advent starts off with a booklet which contains information, worship materials, discussion topics, and activities to do at home. I have two booklets for this purpose. One, Devotions for Children and Families with Children, contains a weekly Advent wreath worship service and six activities that can be done through the week. Families can choose to do one or more each week depending on their time restraints. Activities listed include a church activity, a craft activity, a charitable/outreach activity, an ornament activity, a creche activity, and a family-centered (history) activity. The second booklet is part of an Advent Take Home Kit and is called, Journey to Bethlehem: Share the Joy. It contains information on what Advent is, how to make an Advent wreath, how to use an Advent wreath, worship services to practice at home, weekly meditations with readings and discussion, Christmas Eve and Christmas meditations and information about our church services. Both are available for the cost of a donation. Please email me at [email protected]
Advent is a great time to get families and individuals involved in non-Sunday activities. During Advent, I, typically, schedule the following events:
- First Sunday in Advent: Home kits go home.
- Holy Pause in Advent: we offer different types of ways to “pause” including classes on how to do a labyrinth, Centering Prayer, Icon use, Communion Classes, and Prayer Stations.
- St. Nicholas Festival: fun for all ages and way to share a different perspective on Santa Claus.
- Las Posadas: Introduce a different culture and very group growing.
- Saint Thomas Service: for those who have lost a loved one.
- Angel Event: we learn about angels and do crafts.
- Lessons & Carols: beautiful music.
- Family Christmas Movie: we watch with popcorn and lemonade and them discuss.
- Christmas Pageant: we do as a part of our December 24 Service at 3:00 PM. Any child who shows up is in it. Generally, we have about 100.
I will discuss each event more in depth in future blogs, but planning is the key and getting the word out. Once the word spreads, you will see families that have been away, new faces, and lots of smiling regulars. The important thing for any event is getting a team of helpers, planning what each event will look like and then do it. Every year, we build on what we did the year before. This keeps us from having to start by spending lots of money and effort. Pick three or four stations at each event or activities and then every year add two.