Blog: Village Church Leadership

Advent Cropped

Like many of you, I have spent a majority of my Christmas seasons rushing around, trying to complete all the "necessary preparations". As a result, I find myself unprepared in the most important ways when Christmas arrives - way ahead of schedule, of course. This chaotic approach is the complete opposite of how I believe Christians should prepare for Christmas. Our Christmas season should be defined by a joyful, spiritual-focused anticipation and preparation.

Just as the OT believers waited eagerly for the coming of the prophesied One, we should prepare and eagerly anticipate the celebration of Christ's birth. After all, this was God's first step in His plan to restore us back to Himself. What a day worth celebrating!

This year I have decided to intentionally plan ahead so that my family can wait in eager anticipation for Christmas. I am excited to start the "new-to-us" tradition of celebrating Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. If you have contemplating whether or not to celebrate Advent, this is the year to start! I have paired down some of the options and gathered some recommended resources in order to make it easy for you to begin the tradition this year. If you are a seasoned Advent observer, perhaps you may find a new resource or idea to use this year.

Ideas for Celebrating Advent

1. Advent Devotionals - There is a wealth of daily advent devotionals available for you to follow. These devotionals will walk you through Advent and provide a way to look forward to Christ's birth. (See resource list below for some recommended devotionals)

2. Advent Jesse Tree - This one is especially helpful for children as it teaches them the Christmas story. To do this, you select 24 Bible stories and create ornaments that correspond with them. Each day, beginning on December 1st, you read the Bible story and place the corresponding ornament on the tree. You continue this pattern, one ornament & story a day, until Christmas. (If you are not comfortable with choosing the Bible stories on your own, there are numerous resources with pre-picked Bible stories and ornaments. We will link a few examples of that below in the resource section)

3. Advent Wreath - The traditional Advent Wreath consists of a circular wreath with four candles (three purple and one pink). Usually, one candle is lit each week leading up to Christmas representing a beautiful symbol of Christ. Some variations add a fifth white candle in the center that is lit on Christmas eve or Christmas Day. There are also slight variations to what each candle represents and I recommend doing some research and deciding which variation you like best for you and your family. (I will link some examples of advent wreaths and candles to purchase below)

4. Other ideas -

  • Build or buy an Advent calendar - something special (toy or candy) is hidden behind 24 "doors" and discovered each day.
  • Create a prayer garland for daily prayers - mark each link/ring with someone's name and pray for one person a day leading up to Christmas.
  • Nativity set - place the nativity pieces away from the manger and each day have your children move the pieces closer to the manger.

Devotional Resources

Other Resources

Jesse Tree Ornaments:

Advent Wreaths:

Advent Candles:

Do you have any other Advent traditions you could share with us?

Tagged: Christmas, Advent

One of the fantastic ministry privileges that Village Church has is an opportunity that God pushed us into. God placed in front of us an opportunity to minister at Victory Centre Senior Living in Bartlett. Back in March we took over leading a weekly Sunday Morning worship service to serve the residents there. We’re learning as we go about what it looks like to be faithful with this opportunity. So we thought it would be helpful to share with you a few examples of what the Lord is teaching us about ministry with this particular group of people:

1. It is Distinctly Countercultural

Truth time – Our culture views those near the end of life as a burden. We have a high value for youthfulness, and the wisdom and experience of the previous generation is truncated for the sake of energy and innovation. Those with failing health and “old ways” of thinking are viewed as an impediment to progress. On the other hand, ministry with and for those near the end of life is an intentional act motivated by an understanding that all people no matter where they are in life are inherently valuable to God and to society.

2. It’s Hard, But Not Nearly as Hard as the Lives They Live

No one ever said that ministry would be easy, in fact the New Testament frames much of the Christian life and ministry as an experience of suffering and sacrifice. It’s no surprise then that this ministry has its own specific set of difficulties. However, those difficulties pale in comparison to the fact that many of these people have families who don’t visit them, are permanently infirm in some capacity, are caring for friends and spouses who are worse off than them, face deaths of others in the community regularly, are in and out of the hospital on a regular basis, and need to rely on the help of others to do very basic tasks that we easily take for granted. It kind of makes the things I complain about look ridiculous.

3. You Receive More Than You Give

This will seem super cliché until you understand what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about a self-righteous or cheesy pat-on-the-back attitude that says “I did something good today, I helped other people!” I’m referring to tangible ways my life has changed because these people that I think I’m ministering to are actually ministering to me. There are a few people in this ministry who have track records of 80+ years of faithfully following Jesus. They’ve given me wisdom insight into life that only their experience can produce. Some of them have spoken words to me in ways that have provided great sustenance for my soul. I watch some others live their life with an integrity and commitment to Jesus and others that convicts me and pushes me to see Christ formed more in my own life. The Holy Spirit gives great gifts through those that society calls a burden.

4. It’s Worth It, Always.

Attendance at the worship service dwindles sometimes. Occasionally people forget (some of them have dementia) who I am or that we even have a worship service. I’d be lying if I said that the thought hadn’t crossed my mind: “Is the energy I’m investing here worth it?” Every time I ask that question God convinces more and more that it is worth it.

Even if we’re just stepping into the life of one brother or sister in Christ and providing them with an opportunity for worship and Christian fellowship, that’s one less member of the body who is having to live as though their estranged.

Even if we’re sitting with and listening to one widow who suffers from a lonely heart, that’s one more opportunity to give a real-life display God’s mercy towards the broken hearted.

Even if one person at the end of life who has lived their own way and for their own pleasure comes to know the steadfast love and grace of God found in the person and work of Jesus Christ, that’s one more soul who can truly know what it is to have their name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

God has convinced me that it is worth it, always.

Alex Culpepper
Next Gen Pastor
Tagged: Ministry, Care, outreach