Three Ways to Simplify Advent

These proactive measures can keep you, and your team, from burning out.
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Put your energy into that which gives you and your leadership joy.

What exhausts me may not exhaust you. For example, for years we had a woman in our church who loved the theater. She would begin working on the Christmas drama in September and would go to a great deal of trouble to recruit people to do costumes and stage sets to make it remarkable.

When she moved, however, there was no one to take her place, and we also found that many people had been participating out of duty rather than joy and were frankly exhausted with the whole process. What had brought her and a handful of others joy was not what brought the vast majority of those working on it joy. Therefore, we replaced that lavish event with a few simple songs by the Sunday school classes during a worship service. There was a collective sigh of relief from many who had been working so hard every Christmas.

We also discovered that simple things can be more powerful than big productions. Many of us renewed our joy in being able to hear the truth of Advent in simple Scriptures and meditations rather than in flashy displays. An a cappella hymn can sometimes tug the heartstrings more than all the instruments blaring, and a whisper can arrest our attention more powerfully when it follows a lot of shouting.

Model for those under you what the holidays are truly about.

As church leaders, we can set the precedent for what is genuinely important. As you simplify your own life around the holidays and moderate church activities, you will find yourself enjoying the simple blessings of the season. Your overflowing joy will be evident to all those around you, giving them freedom to do the same.

Consider replacing big, church-wide events with smaller, more personal gatherings. Or instead of events, provide your congregation with an Advent devotional they can do together as families or in community with a small group of good friends. Let people share what they are learning through that devotional during the services of Advent.

Rediscover the pleasure of the little things and it will be contagious to all those around you, and you will help them truly believe the angel that said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people” (Luke 2:10).

JoHannah Reardon is still involved in church leadership, but is enjoying it a lot more. Find her family devotional Proverbs for Kids and her many novels at

November30, 2015 at 8:00 AM

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