First Third Conversations

Lost in the Holidays

A blog post by Terri Elton

Image Credit: Christmas 2007 by Christina Rutz on Flickr

Some say, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” while others dread the season. Christmas, the heart of this season, is centered on Christ, and yet amidst the holidays Christ often gets pushed aside. Truth be told, it’s a hard time of the year to be a church leader…and it’s a hard time to keep the focus in our personal lives as well. So how is it we don’t get “lost in the holidays”?

Honestly, there is no simple answer. Situations are different for each person, family, and congregation. But the complexity of the issue does not mean the question should be avoided. So during December we have invited a group of church leaders to wrestle with how not to get lost in the holidays. I hope you will join us.

To start us off, I get to chime in. The holiday season has always been bittersweet for me. As a church leader, it’s been a mixed bag of meaningful moments and busyness. Personally, it’s hard to navigate meaning in the midst of the paradox of joy and brokenness. Today I’ll address this question by reflecting on the church side of the holidays, and tomorrow I’ll address the personal side.

As church leaders, one of the roles we play during the holiday season is to help others remember the meaning of the season and not get lost in the holidays themselves. Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, helps us do just that.

Recently there have been several creative undertakings around helping Christians understand the meaning of the season of Advent and, in turn, helping them rethink Christmas. I want to challenge you to challenge people in your ministries to participate in Advent in some way. And to get you started, here are a few resources.

What is Advent? See this great 2-minute video:

Advent calendars are a great way to stop each day on our journey to Christmas. Here are several creative ones:

Busted Halo has one -

Here’s one from a congregation, Prince of Peace in Burnsville, MN – and the video to tell a bit about it -

Rethink church, a resource of the Methodist Church has a photo-a-day challenge -

Rethinking Christmas is another way to help Christians navigate the consumer-culture. Two great resources are:

Christmas Remix is a resource from

Advent Conspiracy is a well known movement to help people redirect their giving and help people in other countries as they do.

We, at First Third, are also going to be helping church leaders remember the blessings which are in our midst. Each day between now and Christmas we will be posting an inspirational video and a question on the FirstThird Facebook page. So, like us on Facebook, if you don’t already, and let us help you live in Advent, or anticipate, of Christ coming.

Happy Holidays, and a blessed Advent.

Terri EltonAuthor Bio:
Terri is passionate about young people and their families, and loves the church. No really! She's our Associate Professor and teaches with an eye toward developing leaders and leading change. She also serves as Director of the Center for First Third Ministry and hopes to help ministry leaders create environments that cultivate a faith that matters. Growing up in southern California, Terri discovered her love for the city, cultural diversity and the beach. You can usually find Terri running or biking the streets of Minneapolis/St. Paul, or wherever she happens to be. When not moving, she's watching a movie with her husband or traveling with her two young adult daughters.

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