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Whether you’re non-denominational, evangelical, contemporary, or just plain Christian … this post is for you!
Some think celebrating Advent is just for liturgical churches, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! In fact, more and more evangelical and non-denominational churches are adding elements of Advent into their worship services to bring some pause and intentionality into this season leading up to the birth of Christ.
Advent is a simple acknowledgment of the season of waiting.
In our current culture of overwhelming holiday stress and consumerism, I’m not surprised that more people are exploring the concept of Advent. It’s an intentional way to slow down the train and put Jesus back into the season.
Whether you are new to celebrating Advent or you grew up with traditional Advent candles and calendars, I invite you to experience the Advent season as a way to take a step back to reset your eyes on Jesus during a season that alternatively is full of distraction, busyness, and stress.
If Advent isn’t in your current church tradition, consider introducing your small church to Advent. It’s a beautiful way to create a pause and add some meaning, along with incredible biblical teaching about the waiting, preparation, and hope.
FAQs About Advent
What Is Advent?
Advent is the season of waiting. During biblical times, there were 400 years when God “went silent” before the coming of the Messiah. This is Advent!
Advent is a time to slow down, pause, and prepare our hearts to celebrate His coming. During Advent, the Christian church today mirrors or symbolizes the ancient times when Israel waited in anticipation for the Messiah to come.
Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus”, meaning “coming.” It is a season to prepare your heart spiritually to celebrate the coming of Jesus. We are mindful of two things during the Advent season. First, we honor and celebrate the birth of Jesus over 2000 years ago. Then, we wait in anticipation and look forward to the Second Coming of Jesus.
When Do We Celebrate Advent?
Advent season begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends with Christmas Eve. Because of this, it varies in length and can begin with the last Sunday in November or the first Sunday in December. There are typically five worship services in Advent, including four Sundays plus Christmas Eve.
Why Should We Observe Advent?
- Celebrating Advent is a fantastic opportunity for intentional spiritual growth in adults and children. We specifically choose to set aside some of the hustle and bustle of the holidays to remember the generations before us that had to patiently wait for Jesus. There was no opportunity for them to accept Jesus as their Savior because He hadn’t yet been born to Mary.
- We celebrate Advent as a means to have opportunities to slow down and truly focus on Jesus as the reason for everything we celebrate at Christmas.
- We celebrate Advent as a way to practice patience, one of the fruits of the Spirit. We wait patiently to celebrate the birth of Christ. We wait patiently for each week to light another candle on the Advent wreath. We wait patiently each day to open a new window on the Advent calendar. We wait patiently for the moment we can add another piece to our nativity scene.
- Advent allows us to reflect on God’s faithfulness. He was faithful, is faithful today, and always will be faithful.
Isn’t Advent Just For Catholics?
Nope. Many denominations and churches all over the world celebrate Advent, including more and more evangelical churches. Any Christ-follower looking to be more intentional about focusing on Jesus during the holidays could find beauty and depth in this season.
How Do We Celebrate Advent? What Do We Do?
There are several ways to focus on the coming of Jesus, practice patience, and prepare our hearts.
- Focused Bible readings in church and at home
- Advent calendar
- Advent wreath
- Gradual setup for nativity
- Advent songs
- Special church services
The Advent Calendar counts down the days of Advent until Christmas. Although Advent sometimes begins in November, most traditional Advent calendars have just 25 days starting on December 1st. On most calendars, one window or tab is opened each day. Inside is a picture, poem, reflection, piece of candy, or possibly a tiny item as a gift. An Advent calendar can be almost anything from a paper or cardboard calendar whose little doors open to biblical pictures, to a wreath with 25 small boxes on it, to a felted calendar with representations of Christmas season items tucked into miniature stockings. Crafty people may create their own Advent calendars at home, while others purchase them in stores or online where there are tons of options and varieties.
Using an Advent calendar is a great way to practice waiting. We wait until the next day to open a new window, just as we patiently wait for Christmas or the return of Christ.
Advent Wreath Or Advent Crown
Many churches use an Advent wreath with candles as part of their worship services. Often families also have an Advent wreath at home.
Celebrating with an Advent Wreath at home is a great way to help families focus weekly on the reason for the season. It really gives a moment to pause and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
The Advent wreath can be purchased or homemade. It is made of a greenery wreath with 5 candles, 3 purple or blue, 1 rose or pink, and 1 white. The purple and rose candles are around the outside, while the white one is in the center. One is lit each week, ending with the Christ candle (the white one) on Christmas Eve.
The family tradition of an Advent wreath helps center ourselves from the busyness and the bustle of the holidays and focus on the true reason for the season that we celebrate.
Gradual Nativity Setup
Gradually setting up a nativity is a super way to reinforce the concept of waiting. The Israelites waited for Jesus to come and be born. We wait for Jesus to come back for His bride.
On the first night, set up the creche or stable. On the second night, add just one animal. And on the third night, put Mary and Joseph together on the other side of the room (and then each night you will move them closer to the stable.) Each night, add another piece to your nativity scene. You can also slowly set up the Magi wise men and shepherds with sheep in other areas of the room and move them closer each night to the stable. Some families keep it going and have the Magi wise men arrive twelve days after Jesus’ birth. (For extra fun, you may want to put a star high above the stable to guide the Magi wise men.)
Are Advent Songs Different From Christmas Songs?
Because Advent is the season of waiting, many churches that observe Advent will wait to sing the Christmas songs about Christ’s birth until closer to Christmas Eve. If you’d like to emphasize the season of waiting, here are a few Christmas songs we sing that are considered Advent carols. They are a great encouragement in understanding the waiting the Israelites did for their Messiah.
- “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is a classic Advent carol about waiting for the birth of Christ.
- “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” was written as an Advent song. This song tells of the Israelites waiting for the Messiah, the birth of Christ, and the Second Coming of Christ.
- “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is all about giving a blessing in hard times of waiting.
- “Breath of Heaven”, by Amy Grant, is a beautiful Advent song written to be from the perspective of Mary.
- “Light of the World”, by Lauren Daigle, is another great Advent song about waiting for Jesus and beholding Him once he is born.
A Ready-To-Use Advent Worship Pack
If you’re curious about how to introduce Advent to your church, or you’re looking for an easy made-for-you resource, take a look at our Advent Worship Pack.
We designed this resource pack created with small churches in mind to make it simple to add Advent to your Christmas season, even if you’ve never celebrated Advent. Everything you need in one place to celebrate Advent this year with simplicity and excellence.
This Advent Worship Pack contains what you need to focus 5 worship services on the coming of Christ, including 5 worship service order templates with complete readings, promotion resources, top video & song ideas, and even our favorite Christmas cookie recipe (just for fun!).
The themes of this pack follow the traditional weekly themes of hope, peace, joy, love, and Christ. The suggested worship songs are mostly traditional carols with a few contemporary worship song suggestions that also follow the weekly themes.
Feel free to use it “as is” or breathe in your own creativity. I’m praying this season is a blessing to you and yours.
Where Did The Resources In This Pack Come From?
The resources in this pack were created by the team at Small Church Ministry and copyrighted. These resources may be used by your local church but not distributed beyond that scope.
What Does The Advent Worship Pack Include?
This made-for-you Advent Worship Pack includes:
- Introduction to Advent Worship Pack with FAQs
- 5 Advent Worship Service Orders
- Advent Candle Readings for all 5 Worship Services
- Advent Worship Orders Song & Video List
- Social Media Promotion: Graphics
- Social Media Promotion: Captions (Swipe Copy)
- Top Mini-Movie Worship Videos to Purchase for Advent & Christmas
- Other Great Advent Worship Songs
- Optional Creative Advent Readings
- Our Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipe (just for fun!)