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The Advent Conspiracy

  • Dr. James Emery White

    James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theologyand culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he…

  • 2019 Dec 02

So how did Black Friday go for you?

Did you get some good deals? Did you knock out all of your Christmas shopping?

Apparently a lot of us tried.

According to a survey by SlickDeals, more than half of us hit the stores on Black Friday. And on average, those of us who did planned to spend more than $500 that day alone.

And the three things we went looking for?

Number one was clothes. Second on our list were laptops or computers. And then third, TVs.

And we like our Black Friday sales.

The survey found that most of us would skip out on Thanksgiving with family entirely just to get a good deal. But here’s the real craziness: one in five Americans would eat only oatmeal for two weeks straight if it meant they could get a new, flat-screen TV for half price. And for the same deal, nearly one in 10 Americans would endure a year-long head cold. And for a free TV, one in 10 Americans said they’d happily cast themselves away on a deserted island, fending for themselves for a whole week, while another one in 10 would put themselves on house arrest for a year.   

Just for a free TV.

But that’s Christmas, right? Things, things and more things.

Or is it?

Let me ask you a question: If you consider yourself a Christ follower, does the way you spend time, money and energy during Christmas reflect honoring Jesus at Christmas? The centrality of Jesus at Christmas?

Perhaps it’s time to introduce the “Advent Conspiracy,” which is conspiring against the way our culture has taken over Christmas. And how we can and need to take it back.

Neither the title nor the idea behind this is original to me. More than a decade ago, a team of people got together and decided to take this on under this banner. They were convicted that there had to be a better, fuller, richer way to celebrate the joy of the Christmas story that not only protected our hearts – and in many cases our wallets – but also offered protection and care for those in our world who are most vulnerable.

This is not a new idea at the church I serve. We have been highlighting our Giving to Christ at Christmas effort for nearly 30 years. An effort to give our first and best gift to Jesus at Christmas, which He said we could do by giving to the least and the lost through the local church of which we are a part. So we take every bit of that money and give it to support orphanages, the homeless, those in need of basic necessities such as food or clean water, those being rescued from human trafficking and, of course, to reach those who are spiritually far from God with the one message that can alter the entire trajectory of their eternity.

But however it needs to be done, the goal is the same: make Christmas meaningful again and put Jesus at its center. 

And isn’t that what we all want and what we all really need? How many years have you missed the wonder of God’s miraculous birth with overstuffed Decembers leaving you wanting more? Hyper-consumption leaving you empty?

We worship less, spend more, give less, struggle more. 

This can’t be right. It’s just wrong and it has to end. So what if we did Christmas differently? Because it’s not about just saying “No” to the way Christmas is being celebrated culturally; it’s about saying “Yes” to an entirely different way of celebrating.

What would it look like if we took this Christmas and worshipped fully, spent less, gave more and loved all? And did it in the name of Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus, and in honor and celebration of the birthday of Jesus?

That’s the “Advent Conspiracy.”

The word advent means “coming,” and it’s become a blanket term for the weeks leading up to Christmas, looking forward to the celebration of when Jesus came. This is why those of us who are Christians have advent wreaths and advent candles and celebrate the season of Advent.

The “Advent Conspiracy” is to take the weeks leading up to Christmas to conspire to do it differently. To challenge ourselves, collectively, to do it differently. To be cultural subversives and revolutionaries. To do better than just Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays as if that’s all that Christmas is. 

We can get Christmas back.

And we should.

James Emery White


“Black Friday breakdown: Average shopper to spend $500-plus, likely on clothes and electronics,” Fox News, November 12, 2018, read online.

Rick McKinley, Chris Seay, Greg Holder, Advent Conspiracy: Making Christmas Meaningful Again (Zondervan).

For more information on Meck’s “Advent Conspiracy” weekend series, click HERE.

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. 

His latest book, After “I Believe,” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast. 

Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.

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