Tips For Preaching In Advent

Tips for Preaching in Advent

In the last post I reflected on the opportunity for preaching that Advent provides.  In this post we’re going to look at some tips for preaching in Advent season.

Tip #1: Tell The Story

Yes, I know, that seems obvious, doesn’t it?  But here’s the reality of what can happen at Advent.  You have image of Christmas sermons visitors; that’s most likely.  You see, many people who otherwise don’t come to church at all will come during this season.  Here are some statistics from a study by Lifeway Research, as reported in Christianity Today: 

In a recent poll of 1,000 Americans, LifeWay Research found six out of 10 Americans typically attend church at Christmastime.

Americans living in the South (66 percent) and Midwest (64 percent) are more likely to attend church at Christmastime than those in the Northeast (57 percent) and West (53 percent). And throughout the U.S., more women than men are likely to attend Christmas church services (66 percent vs. 56 percent).

Those who attend church most frequently throughout the year (once a week or more) are the most likely (91 percent) to say they will attend church at Christmastime.

Even among those who don’t attend church, 57% said they would likely go if someone they knew invited them.  There is something about this time of year that makes people connect the season with churchgoing.

Put Deep Theology Away

The first of the tips for preaching in advent is this: don’t get caught up in differences in theology between your church and others.  And don’t decide to express all your grievances against those who aren’t attending regularly, with the hope that you might guilt them into being more regular in their church attendance.

Rather, tell the story of Jesus.  That’s what they want to, and need to hear.  Most of them probably come because they remember some Christmases from their childhood, and they are trying to recreate that feeling of awe and wonder.  Some are likely trying to deal with the depression that afflicts many during this season.

Tip For Preaching in Advent 2: Preach the Gospel

image of three crosses A second tip for preaching in Advent is this: Preach the Gospel.  This seems to go without saying, but I have to say it.  I know that I often assume that the people who hear me know a lot about the story of Jesus.  The reality is that many people know little to nothing about the gospel story.  And that is growing more true even in previously “Christian” countries like the United States.  So, instead of the gospel, people believe, typically, that you can be saved, and can “earn” heaven by “being good”.   Here are some alarming statistics from The Gospel Coalition:

The Background: A survey conducted by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University find that American adults today increasingly adopt a “salvation-can-be-earned” perspective. A plurality of adults (48 percent) believe that if a person is generally good, or does enough good things during their life, they will “earn” a place in heaven. Only one-third of adults (35 percent) disagree.

A majority of Americans who describe themselves as Christian (52 percent) also accept a “works-oriented” means to God’s acceptance—even those associated with churches whose official doctrine says eternal salvation comes only from embracing Jesus Christ as savior. Almost half of all adults associated with Pentecostal (46 percent), mainline Protestant (44 percent), and evangelical (41 percent) churches, as well as nearly two-thirds of Catholics (70 percent), hold that view.

Tell people  the Good News, that Jesus died in our place.  He paid for our sins.  He offers us the gift of eternal life.

Tip #3: Engage Others

Jesus makes a difference poster A third tip for preaching during advent is to engage others in telling the stories of Jesus’ work.  This is a great time of year for testimonies about how people have experienced Immanuel, God with us.  There are often wonderful stories about this that will connect with your hearers.  Here’s a link to an earlier post where I tell the story of my worst sermon.  The context there is that God is going to do with the Word what he wants, but the women in this story also had a wonderful testimony to share the next year.

These are three of many possible tips for preaching in Advent.  Unfortunately, I got started late on this advent series.  But I hope these are helpful to you as you preach the incredible gospel of Jesus Christ.