To open our homes during the Advent season to the people God has placed in our physically nearest to us, as one way of both conforming to both the unity of the body and to fulfill Jesus’s commission to His people. ( 1 Corinthians 1:10, Matthew 28-19-20)
To set aside differences and stand on scriptural unity as we reflect on the first advent of Christ and stand together to look forward to His second Advent. (Isaiah 9:6, 1 Thessalonians 4:16)
To create a small, intimate setting in our homes that fulfills the model that the early church set for us, as well as reaching out to fill the needs of a society hungry for community with His Living Water. (Acts 2:46, Matthew 25: 35-40)
To reach every city, neighborhood, and street with small gatherings in which we break bread, pray, sing, laugh, worship, and celebrate Immanuel, God with us, to truly become The Light of The World during this holiday season. (Matthew 5:16, Matthew 1:22-23)
We urge you before you decide, before you act on anything to earnestly seek God’s heart on this in prayer, not as a delay to action, but as a precursor to acting on your beliefs. I truly believe that this gathering can and should look different for each on of us and that if we ardently seek God’s will he will show us how we can best serve Him in this vision.
What if I can’t afford it?
Pray. Because our God provides. Russ and I will be providing a simple main dish each week that will be something inexpensive and we have asked our attendees to bring a side dish if they would like. I made invitations on PicMonkey and printed them for free. Please do remember though, that serving often means sacrifice and there is much we could cut back on in this season.
What if my home is too small?
It’s not. Seriously. If you have to move all the furniture back and borrow folding chairs, I can almost promise you that no one cares but you. People are so hungry for community that if your heart is to serve God he can use you and your home no matter how humble. On second thought, perhaps on both of those, the more humble, the better.
Why can’t we do it at church?
Pray. Because you can do it at church if you really feel like you need to, however our heart is that we would use open our homes both as a brave vulnerability and a serious commitment to intimacy. As our homes are what God has used to place us where we are at, we feel like it is the perfect venue to use to reach out to those very people.
Why can’t we do it as a small group?
Again, you can if you really feel that is what God is leading you to do. However, I would encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone. In fact, this could be a great project for a small group. Share the idea and see if people perhaps want to pair up in groups of two (couples or singles) to host a Home for the Holidays gathering. Who knows, maybe when the new year rolls around you might have a few more people in your small group! (Seriously, how cool would that be?)
What about childcare?
We believe that this is a great season and opportunity to include our children and live our faith out loud with them. This might me we have to be a touch more laid back than we are used to in dinner and worship setting, but remember that when the kids got rowdy and excited for Jesus in the Bible, he welcomed them with open arms. Let’s have that attitude for our children in this season. We could also plan on having some books and games lying around and encourage older kids to read and play with younger kids!
What if we don’t have a preacher/teacher to lead?
You do! You. The advent actually follows a simple outline 1. The prophecy candle or hope candle. (Romans 15: 12-13, Isaiah 9:6) 2. Bethlehem candle or preparation candle. (Luke 3: 4-6, Micah 5:2) 3. Shepard candle or Joy candle. (Luke 2: 7-15) 4. Angel Candle or Love candle (John 3: 16-17) 5. Christ candle. (John 1:29, Thessalonians 4:16). You can expand as little or as much as you would like on that. Although the closer we stick to scripture the better off we are since it is the anointed word of God.
What if I know too many people who want to gather and do this to fit in a home setting?
Encourage you to challenge more believers to participate, perhaps encourage someone that you think might want to be a part of your group to lead a group of their own. No one understands better than me how much some of us love having all of our people together, but in this situation the more we spread out, the more we spread His Light!
What if I just don’t have enough time or I am going out to town for Christmas?
Again pray ardently about this. We know the Christmas season can be a flurry of activity. Since you get to decide when you hold your gathering pick a time that works for you and go ahead and start praying for the people that you invite. Russ and I are doing ours on a Wednesday, but since the last Wednesday is so close to Christmas we are doing it on Sunday before everyone heads out of town. Remember again that service often requires sacrifice so pray over your calendars and see if God is trying to make some room for this somewhere.
What if my church is already doing something to celebrate advent?
That’s amazing! We encourage you to participate fully in your local church body. We don’t want to replace church and outreaches in this season, but add something special for Advent in the name of unity and outreach. Again pray, do you need to invite your church to participate in Home for the Holidays?
How do we handle vast theological and practical differences that might come up during the gathering?
Pray for discernment. Many things can be gently addressed by scripture or redirection. Many things might need to be discussed outside of the celebration setting. I also encourage you to keep an eternal mindset, ask yourself, “Does this matter in the light of eternity?” If the answer is “No,” you might need to let it go.