Permission to Go Short During Advent
I give you permission to go short this Advent.
Whether you are a preparing a sermon, a music program, or a small group lesson–I give you permission to go short.
You are allowed to take some of the time you would have spent preparing that sermon, performance, or lesson and spend it being still. Or praying. Or reading. Or drinking a hot beverage while listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. Or taking your family, friends, or staff out to lunch.
You are allowed to take some of the time in the service or small group meeting that would have been filled by you and allow it to be filled by something else. Traditional Christmas readings or liturgy. Inspirational stories or videos. Time to share what we’re thankful for. Time for fellowship.
At first, you won’t want to. This season is important (yes, I believe it is). There will be more visitors (yes, I think there will be–especially on Christmas Eve). If I do a poor job, I might blow the opportunity (yes, but I said go short, not do a poor job…).
All the excuses you might come up with for not going short might sound good coming out, but at the end of the day, they will likely crumble. Take that last one–being worried about doing a poor job. Of course, God wants our best, and we want to be good stewards of the opportunities to connect with anyone that may find their lives changed at our churches or in our small groups… But who said it was all on your shoulders? What is the focus of worship or a small group time anyway?
At the end of the day, it is really hard to lead people to take seriously a season of preparation and reflection if you are stressed out or exhausted all the time. If your focus is off. If you’re tired. If you’re bitter. If you’re imagining what would happen if you just didn’t show up on Christmas Eve (if you’re at this place, you might need more than to just go short… go talk to someone–seriously).
Now, of course, who am I? A blogger on worship, creativity, and communication.
Does my permission mean anything? In the grand scheme of things, no, but you are reading this post, so…
Will dropping my name help you if going short draws criticism? Nope, definitely not.
Despite all of that, I want you to know that I am on your side. I am a pastor who has served in local churches as well as college campus ministry. I have been a small group leader. I have written curriculum for small groups. I have been a worship band leader. I have been a worship planner. I have been and continue to be a preacher and public speaker. I have also been one of the people sitting in your congregation (maybe not literally, but you get the idea).
I have been stressed through Advent and Christmas. I have been overwhelmed by a schedule and/or to-do list that made it really hard to focus on even the most important moments. If, for you, the sermon or lesson prep process is part of your disciplines, and you find that it helps you slow down and release stress, then take all the time you need. But if you’re weighed down by the burden of finding the time to work up something profound because everything else is out of control–then focus on the key, core messages of Advent, communicate them effectively, and end when it’s over–no matter how short.
I care about you. I care about your ministry. And if that’s enough, you have my permission to go short this Advent.