Whether your church is meeting in-person, online, or both, there are new resources to use in preparing for Advent this year. We can also look back to the wisdom that was offered last year and still find it useful this year. The NC Conference Media Center offers planning resources, studies, devotionals, and more to help create a meaningful Advent season for 2021.
Use these webinars and online curriculum in planning for Advent 2021. Some of these resources were prepared for 2020 but are still quite useful this year. We will continue to update this section as more resources become available.
Amplify, the United Methodist video streaming service, hosted a webinar titled Sharing the Christmas Story, Sharing Our Faith: Advent Studies for Every Church that is now available to watch any time. The webinar was hosted by Rachel Billups and features Adam Hamilton, Matt Rawle, and Laceye Warner.
- Adam Hamilton remembers the ten years since his Christmas classic, The Journey, was published and how this fascinating look at the world-changing birth of Jesus Christ strengthened church relationships and inspired readers.
- In his new study The Heart that Grew Three Sizes, Matt Rawle explores the faith themes in the family classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! to see how Christ speaks to us through our culture.
- In All the Good: A Wesleyan Way of Christmas, Laceye Warner and a group of diverse Wesleyan scholars take small groups and churches on an Advent journey guided by the practices in John Wesley’s means of grace.
Amplify’s Advent webinar series from last year was also archived and can be watched for free. The Promise of Advent was hosted by Rev. Adam Hamilton and a diverse group of church leaders. It includes the following sessions:
- Worship, Music, and Ritual: Reimagining Advent Church Services
- How Will Our Children Cope? Family Resources for Celebrating Christmas
- Preaching in Grief: Bring Hope to this Year of Loss and Insecurity
- Incarnation: Be Inspired by the Names of Christ
The final session of the webinar series introduces participants to Rev. Hamilton’s Advent study, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas. You can borrow this study from the Media Center, or you can order the Leader Kit with Amplify Access from Cokesbury.
Leading Your Church Through Advent on October 7th at 11:00am or November 4th at 2:00pm. Join Kay Kotan and Rachel Gilmore as they discuss ways to involve your congregation in an Advent study and offer Advent study ideas and materials. The authors will use suggestions from their latest book, Voices of Christmas, as well as providing suggestions to help get your congregation involved in an Advent study together.
Planning Ahead to Preach During Advent: Offering Hope on October 19th, 2021 at 2:00 pm. During this session, Olu Brown, pastor of Impact Church, one of the fastest-growing churches in the country, will share his advice on preparing to preach during Advent. Using his book Hope: An Advent Journey as a reference, Brown will take participants through the Advent season, offering suggestions on making plans as you prepare for Advent and Christmas 2021.
Planning Activities for Advent & Christmas on October 21st, 2021 at 11:00 am. During this session, Anne Bosarge will offer advice and ideas about plans your congregation can begin making to make Advent and Christmas more meaningful. Anne will discuss lots of ideas for Bible studies, adult & children’s activities, and more.
Fresh Expressions Webinar
Watch this recorded webinar from Fresh Expressions about Church in Winter: Preparing for Cold Weather and COVID. It includes best practices from a 30-year-old expression of church that always meets in the snow, how to inspire the creativity of your congregation to unlock new ideas, and unexpected opportunities to engage your surrounding community during winter.
Lewis Center Podcast
The Lewis Center for Church Leadership hosted a podcast on Virtual Advent featuring Professor of Worship Anna Petrin. She shares ideas for bringing Advent from the sanctuary to the home and allowing its themes of longing and hope to speak to our current reality.
Christmas Music in the Midst of COVID-19
How do you plan for Advent and Christmas music when you don’t know what to plan for? Who to plan for? Where to plan for? Be sure to read this article from Discipleship Ministries, Advent and Christmas Music in the Midst of COVID-19. It provides lots of guidance and resources for liturgy and music for online worship.
Cokesbury’s Advent Study Comparison Chart
Cokesbury has posted an Advent study comparison chart to help you decide what Advent study to use with your church or small group this year. We have even more Advent studies available at the Media Center, so keep reading to find out about additional options.
Discipleship Ministries Free Advent Series
Discipleship Ministries offers a free Advent series, Company’s Coming, that can be downloaded and used with your church.
GCORR Advent Series
The General Commission on Religion and Race offers a five-part theologically-grounded antiracist Advent worship and preaching guide. Reimagine Advent. Discover the Liberating Christ. is a digital resource that can be purchased and downloaded from their website.
Advent Studies for Adults
New for 2021
All the Good: A Wesleyan Way of Christmas
by Laceye C. Warner, Amy Valdez Barker, Jung Choi, Sangwoo Kim
Go on an Advent journey guided by the practices in John Wesley’s means of grace. Readers will look at preparing the way for God, the impact and significance of prayer, the substance of good works and caring for others, and sharing God’s mission to the world. This study includes a DVD, Leader Guide, Book, Devotional Book, and Youth Book. You can also purchase the Leader Kit with Amplify Access from Cokesbury. Watch a promo video.
This study will be published on September 21, 2021, but you can request to borrow it now.
The Heart That Grew Three Sizes: Finding Faith in the Story of the Grinch
by Matt Rawle
This new Advent study explores the faith themes in the Christmas classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! including, how did the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes come Christmas morning? How did Christmas save the Grinch? Could it be that the very thing we think we hate is the one thing that changes our lives? This churchwide study includes a DVD, Leader Guide, Book, Worship Resources, Youth Book, and Children’s Leader Guide. You can also purchase the Leader Kit with Amplify Access from Cokesbury. Watch a promo video.
This study will be published on September 21, 2021, but you can request to borrow it now.
God Broke Through at Christmas: A Daily Advent Study for Individuals and Groups
By Debra Wallace-Padgett
United Methodist Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett has created a resource to assist both individuals and small groups in spiritual preparation through the Advent season. Each chapter begins with a meditation and study session guide, followed by daily devotionals for the week. The book focuses on four different aspects of life transformed by Jesus Christ’s birth, ministry, death, and resurrection: Silence, Nights of the soul, Seemingly impossible situations, Chaos. This study only uses a book.
More Advent Studies for Adults
Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas by Adam Hamilton. Rev. Hamilton examines the names of Christ used by the gospel writers, exploring the historical and personal significance of his birth. In the face of uncertainty and conflict, Christians reclaim the Christ child who brings us together, heals our hearts, and calls us to bring light into the darkness.
Almost Christmas: A Wesleyan Advent Experience by Magrey R. DeVega, Ingrid McIntyre, April Casperson, Matt Rawle. In John Wesley’s famous sermon, “The Almost Christian,” he encouraged people to follow Christ wholeheartedly. Pastor deVega leads a group of authors in exploring how we can make the same commitment to Christ during Advent, and connect our Wesleyan heritage with the traditional Advent themes of Love, Hope, Joy, and Peace.
From Heaven to Earth: Christmas For New Believers, Old Believers, and Nonbelievers by Wil Cantrell & Paul Seay. Pastors Cantrell and Seay provide an engaging guide in which readers will experience an in-depth look into what we know about the world of Mary and Joseph from the Biblical record and other historical documents as well as a challenge to consider the difference Jesus’ birth makes for our lives today.
Light of the World: A Beginner’s Guide to Advent by Amy-Jill Levine. Author, professor, and biblical scholar Levine shows how the Gospel narratives connect to the Old Testament; highlights the role of women in first-century Jewish culture; and emphasizes the importance of Mary’s visitation, the census, the stable, the star of Bethlehem, and the flight to Egypt.
Home for Christmas: Tales of Hope and Second Chances by Justin Coleman. NC Conference Pastor Coleman shares the real-life stories of formerly incarcerated men and women as they find work and opportunity through Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, California. As we hear about their struggles, we recognize the Advent themes of hope, love, and peace in their lives.
Faithful: Christmas Through the Eyes of Joseph by Adam Hamilton. Join Pastor Hamilton as he examines Christmas through the eyes of Joseph and learn to accept and glorify God’s will even when our situation makes it difficult to do so.
Complete List of Advent Studies
We have 34 DVD-based studies and 15 additional Christmas movies listed in our Advent and Christmas DVDs for Adults pathfinder. We also have 29 book-based studies plus 30 devotionals, program ideas, and additional books listed in our Advent and Christmas Books for Adults pathfinders.
Books for Advent 2021
Making Room: Sharing the Love of Christmas by Ed Robb. This four-week study explores the warmth of welcome at Christmas following interactions with the Holy Family, the shepherds, and the magi. The story of Christ’s birth encourages us to widen our borders and increase our sense of community—and make room for others. This study also has a Leader Guide.
Hope: An Advent Journey by Olu Brown. Rev. Brown encourages readers to reclaim Advent as something already here, not a season waiting to arrive. This Advent season can be the best ever if you dare to embrace the hope of Jesus right now, knowing that God’s grace and love are present to carry you through the most challenging times in your life.
Blue Christmas: Devotions of Light in a Season of Darkness by Todd Outcalt. Blue Christmas reminds us that all of our Christmases, even the darkest ones, can be filled with honesty and hope if we are first willing to sit in silence and bring our deepest fears to God. The book includes daily devotions, additional prayers, a “Blue Christmas” worship service, and reflection questions. An eCourse based on this book and taught by the author will begin 11/29.
Imagining a New World: An Advent Devotional by Terri Hord Owens. Pause from the whirlwind of the holidays to imagine God’s vision for a new world in Christ’s coming. Inspired by the “peaceable kingdom” scripture from Isaiah 11, these daily, five-minute devotions include scripture, reflections, and a prayer.
Mary Had a Baby: An Advent Bible Study Based on African American Spirituals by Cheryl Kirk-Duggan & Marilyn E. Thornton. Each of the four sessions of Mary Had a Baby corresponds with the four weeks of Advent and features a Christmas Spiritual. You’ll listen to the music, examine related Scripture, and discuss biblical, historical, and contextual themes in a fun and interactive setting.
The Living Nativity: Preparing for Christmas with Saint Francis by Larry J. Peacock. This book introduces readers to Saint Francis and explores how nativity sets, Advent wreaths, candles, carols, Christmas cards, and other traditions help prepare our hearts for the God “who bends low to enter our world and our lives.” Prayer poems for each day of the season lead readers to deepen their spiritual journey, and the book provides a guided pattern for individuals and small groups to share reflections and experience activities that open their hearts to the Christ child.
Complete List of Advent Books
View our complete list of book-based Advent studies, devotionals, activity books, liturgies, prayers, and more in our Advent and Christmas Books for Adults pathfinder.
Advent for Youth and Children
Many of our Advent studies for adults also offer separate guides to use these studies with youth and children. Here are some additional resources to help families celebrate the Advent season this year.
Fathom: The Coming of Jesus, The Birth of a Savior by Charlie Baber. This bible study for youth, written by NC Conference Pastor Baber, is a journey through some of the key Old Testament scriptures that shape our beliefs about the specific events leading to the birth of Jesus. A leader’s guide is also available.
Faithful Families for Advent and Christmas: 100 Ways to Make the Season Sacred by Traci Smith. In this new book of faith practices for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, parents, grandparents, Sunday School teachers, pastors, and anyone who cares about kids will find 100 easy, fun, and meaningful ideas for bringing the sacred back into the season.
Advent A to Z: Prayerful and Playful Preparations for Families by Sharon Harding and John Indermark. Beginning December 1 and running through December 26, each day will explore an Advent-related word that begins with a successive letter in the alphabet. This is followed by suggestions for simple, easy-to-prepare, and complete activities (discussion starters, games, crafts, meditations, journaling, outreach project, devotions).
God Rest Ye Grumpy Scroogeymen: New Traditions for Comfort and Joy at Christmas by Laura Jensen Walker and Michael K. Walker. Full of fun and practical how-to-tips, this book will help your family remember, create and experience memory-making traditions at Christmas time.
Christmas Extras: Faith-Filled Ideas for Celebrating Christmas. Share an Advent/Christmas season that’s bursting with lots of praise, devotions, Bible stories, snacks, crafts, and experiences that jingle with joy for Jesus’ birth. Each brief activity is rooted in faith and wrapped in fun, revealing more and more about God’s powerful love and grace for all of us.
Complete List of Youth & Children’s Resources
View the Advent and Christmas Resources for Youth pathfinder to see a complete list of our Advent studies and program resources for youth.
View the Advent and Christmas Resources for Children pathfinder to view a complete list of our Advent studies, family-friendly movies, picture books, and program resources for children.
Request These Resources
These resources can be borrowed for free by anyone involved with a United Methodist Church in the North Carolina Conference. We will mail them to your home! All you need to do is fill out the Resource Request Form.