The Makings of a Conspiracy
Over a decade ago, a few pastors were lamenting how they’d come to the end of an Advent season exhausted and sensing they’d missed it – the awe-inducing, soul-satisfying mystery of the incarnation.
For many of us, we were drowning in a sea of financial debt and endless lists of gifts to buy. We struggled to find the connection between our Christmas to-do lists and the story of Jesus’ birth.
An overwhelming stress had overtaken worship and celebration.
The time of year when focusing on Christ should be the easiest was often the hardest. Somehow, this had become the new normal.
So, in 2006, three pastors, Chris Seay, Greg Holder, and Rick McKinley, decided to try something different. They called it the Advent Conspiracy movement, and came up with four tenets—Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All—to guide themselves, their families, and congregations through the Christmas season.
Nearly every character in the Christmas story that encountered our King responded in the same way: worship. Let’s make the conscious effort to reorient our hearts toward Christ. Christmas began with worship, may it end with worship.
In our hearts we know mindless consumption is not the way to celebrate Jesus. But spending less does not mean spending nothing. Rather we will thoughtfully evaluate what companies and causes we support through our purchases.
The best gifts celebrate a relationship and most often they require our time and energy. Relational giving means that we think about the other person–who they are and what they care about. We focus more on giving our undivided presence and less on a pile of presents under the tree.
Christmas is a chance to move closer to those in crisis. We will love others as Jesus has loved us. The poor and hurting of our world can be reached by God through the way we choose to celebrate Christmas.
The movement started small—just a handful of churches who would try this experiment and make the Advent story personal again. That first Christmas they got creative, changed their traditions, and ended up raising enough money for a water-well in West Africa.
The news spread quickly, a book was written, videos were created, and along the way a revolution was born.
Over the last decade, thousands of churches have celebrated with more relational traditions, partnered with more organizations, and have channeled more resources to the poor, marginalized, and forgotten.
Advent Conspiracy is about the entire body of Christ at work in the world. As we worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all, something begins to happen that is greater than any single person, church, or denomination. As the Church, we are telling the story of Jesus to the watching world.
Our prayer is that more churches join together to live out the story of Jesus’ sacrificial love. God is not finished with our world and He is inviting us deeper into the Christmas story.