Blog #55: Come Conspire With Us!

John Cline

Every year since 2010, our congregation has participated in the Advent Conspiracy Movement. From their website, www.adventconspiracy.org, comes this explanation of the origin of the movement.
‘The Origin of Advent Conspiracy: A conspiracy born out of Christmas dread’.
Several years ago a few pastors were lamenting how they’d come to the end of an Advent season exhausted and sensing they’d missed it again: the awe-inducing, soul-satisfying mystery of the incarnation.
No wonder there was a dread at the beginning of each new season as they prepared to proclaim, celebrate, and worship around the story of God entering our world as one of us. A creeping kind of idolatry was consuming them and their communities. It seemed as if all were drowning in a sea of financial debt and endless lists of gifts to buy.  An overwhelming stress had overtaken any sense of worship.  People now believed the marketing lie that spending money is the best way to express love.  This, combined with the American mindset that “more must be better” was now consuming pastors and congregations alike.
Somehow, this had become the new normal. This had become everyone’s Christmas routine. Every year people were being devoured by the Christmas frenzy, and every year the Advent season ended with a sinking feeling that once again, they’d missed the point. 600 billion dollars is the amount of money Americans spend every year on Christmas shopping, while 30 billion dollars is the amount of money it would take to provide safe water access to the entire world.
So, three pastors—Rick McKinley from Imago Dei Community in Portland, Chris Seay from Ecclesia in Houston, and Greg Holder from The Crossing in the St. Louis area—decided to try something different. They called it the “Advent Conspiracy”, and came up with four tenets—Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All—to guide themselves, their families, and congregations through their season of preparation for Christmas.  It started small—just the three churches and a handful of others who would try this experiment.  They didn’t know what to expect, but deep down they sensed a longing to reclaim the story of Christmas. And along the way a revolution was born. A video posted on YouTube went viral with more than a million views. In those first few years hundreds of churches in 17 countries on four continents were participating, and millions of dollars had been directed to Living Water International to provide safe drinking water for people around the world.
Since then, every year more churches and groups—numbering in the thousands—have conspired to celebrate a more Christ-centered Christmas. Using the tools of the Advent Conspiracy, they have celebrated with more relational traditions, partnered with more organizations, and have channeled resources to the poor, marginalized, and forgotten in their own communities, and around the world.
Where you choose to channel your resources to love all is up to you. Advent Conspiracy is yours. The beauty of the Advent Conspiracy, however, is not in its re-direction of resources, but in its power to transform us personally, as a community, and as the Body of Christ. Churches that participate consistently share that what they love most about AC is how it transforms their season into one that is happier, more connected, and freer to focus on Jesus. That’s what it’s all about.

 

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