I know, I know… in the coming weeks you’re getting ready for your Fall Kick-Off, or Homecoming Sunday, or Launch Sunday, or whatever you call it. You aren’t thinking about advent yet.
But you should be! Christmas is around the corner. Now is the time to get in the healthy rhythm of planning ahead.
Here is what you need to be thinking about for advent.
Plan early and work with a team. To be doing vital, creative, engaging worship planning, we have to work ahead. This is especially true because the best worship planning happens with a team of people, not only the pastor. And for teams to meet, mobilize and create a great series or plan, they need enough time to be creative. We’ve all had that one great idea just a little too late to get it done. So start planning now!
Plan for your visitors. Along with Easter week , advent is when the most visitors come to our churches. Our visitors probably don’t know where the sanctuary is, when to sit or stand, where they should hang their coats or how to find the words in the hymnal. Be ready to help. While insiders know and understand why we have a pageant, when we usually do the cantata, and the ritual of our special services – our visitors will feel lost. Be intentional about informing and including them.
The advent calendar is a little different this year. The first Sunday of advent is November 27th, and Christmas is a Sunday. That means we have to be prepared to decorate our facilities a little bit earlier. It also means we have to schedule for Christmas Eve on Saturday, followed by Sunday morning services on Christmas.
Make an impact. Around Christmas it is easy to get caught up in the lights, music and pageantry. We all enjoy that, but we also want to remember our mission. December is a great time for a coat drive, food collection, writing letters to our troops, or other means of grace. Put your mission into action for advent this year.
Tell stories in new ways. The Christmas story is one of our favorites. This is the perfect time of year to tell the story of Jesus’ birth through video, pictures taken from our surrounding communities, testimonies or more. While you’re telling that story, tell other stories that are happening in your midst. What other young families are having babies? Who else is experiencing a move? Where are people finding themselves in the stable instead of the inn? Find and tell stories as we share in one of our favorite stories.
Offer opportunities to give. As our churches fill up more throughout December, remember that regular attenders and guests want to give to something meaningful during this season. Advent is the best time to reinforce the ministry and community transformation which is only possible with the tithes and offerings of those in our churches.
These are just a start. What else are you thinking about as you plan advent?