How to have an unhurried approach to Advent for families

Advent is about anticipation, excitement and readying yourself for the coming of Jesus. In modern days, however, it’s become a crazed, commercial frenzy—often beginning before the pumpkins are gone.

The reality is—we live, breathe and raise our families in a day and age that screams: hurry up! And yet: Imagine a December spent savoring the true joy and awe of Christmas.

Dreamy, right?

So, how do we counter the call to rush through the season and make time, space and room for Jesus, the King, to come?

That’s what we’ve laid out, step-by-step in this Little Do Gooders Guide to Advent for Families. Our hope is that your family will take an unhurried approach to the season by:

  • Diving deeper into understanding the true meaning of words like hope, peace, joy and love.
  • Connecting the meaning of the word with what Scripture says about it.
  • Setting aside time to have meaningful conversations with your family.
  • Praying with one another and being still, listening for God’s voice. 

A few things to consider as you get started:

1. Be intentional. Take the time to plan out these five weeks so that, like everything else you manage to prioritize, observing Advent as a family becomes a must do. Use the printable Little Do Gooders Advent Calendar to pair God’s goodness in this season with ways to do good and truly observe Advent together as a family. This study is designed to pair a Scripture passage with a discussion question, five days a week, for use while you spend family time together. Feel free to adjust the format or the way that you use it, to fit what will work for your family.

2. Let it go. Being organized and prepared to lead your family in your weekly Advent observance is one thing, but working to control the experience may mean you and your little one(s) miss out on the beauty of these unhurried moments together. If your time together includes glitter and glue (good grief, Charlie Brown), stuttered Scripture reading from your 7-year-old or all the sass from your preteen… let it go. Don’t lose your joy. Press through.

3. Don’t assume. Our kids don’t need religion, they need Jesus. Don’t assume your toddler doesn’t get it. Don’t assume your teenager doesn’t, either. I was amazed when, during dinner, my four-year-old shared about a dream where God met her on wooden clouds in the sky and they sat and had a “nice chat.” She carried on with such detail as I sat dumbfounded that my unassuming little girl had a personal and vivid encounter with our living God. Don’t dumb down the Gospel—it’s called Good News for a reason. Given the cultural climate of Jesus’ day, the Great Story of his coming to earth as Messiah is one of political and religious offenses, super natural wonder and tremendous risk. This is a powerful story that packs a punch…you can handle it and your kids can, too.

Here’s a preview of the journey:

Week 1 – Jesus is Hope  

Day 1: What is hope?

Spend a few minutes checking in with everyone. Ask simple questions like: How are you feeling today? What are you looking forward to this week? Encourage everyone to share.  

Talk about the meaning of the word hope. Ask: What does hope mean? What is something you’re hoping for this season? What does it feel like to want something and finally get it?

Share the definition of the word and discuss its meaning again. According to Merriam-Webster, hope is “to cherish a desire with anticipation; to want something to happen or be true.” In the Bible, hope is about waiting, not for circumstances to change but for God himself. We have hope in God’s promises.

Watch this short video together for more on what it means to have hope:  

Each day, end your time in prayer as a family. Give each person the chance to pray. Ask God to help you better understand the hope we have in him and how to share it with others. Then spend a minute quietly listening* for Jesus’ response to your prayer. What did he say? Who or what did he bring to mind? Who can you encourage this week by letting them know they’ve been prayed for?

*This is the perfect way to practice listening prayer with your little ones. If they want to draw a picture that comes to mind as they listen, let them. God can speak through visions and pictures, too!

Week 2 – Jesus is Peace  

Day 2: What is the peace we find in Jesus? 

Spend a few minutes reading and talking about this Scripture verse: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

Ask: What is something you feel anxious or worried about? Pray together and ask Jesus for the peace we find in him.

Week 3 – Jesus is Joy  

Day 3: What is the joy we find in Jesus? 

Spend a few minutes reading and talking about this Scripture verse: Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8-9).

Ask: What is a promise of God that brings you joy?  

Week 4 – Jesus is Love  

Day 4: What is the love we find in Jesus? 

Spend a few minutes reading and talking about this Scripture verse: The Christmas Story in Luke 2:1-21. 

Ask: Who can you pray for that needs to know Jesus as love? Pray for anyone who comes to mind. No fancy words required.

Week 5 – Jesus is Forever   

Day 5: What is the forever we find in Jesus? 

Spend a few minutes reading and talking about this Scripture verse:  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39).

Ask: How can you share Jesus with someone in need this week? Spend a few minutes creating a list of ways to love God and love others this week. Then make a plan to do it! 

Get the Little Do Gooders Guide to Advent for Families and follow along for a guided walk through Advent with a Scripture passage and discussion question to use during family time, five days a week. Use the countdown calendar for a fun, daily idea to pair God’s goodness in this season with ways to do good and truly observe Advent together as a family.

Do Good:

Sharing is caring!

Erin L. Wikle, Captain

Lt. Erin L. Wikle is a follower of Jesus whose passion is helping others live missionally. She is gifted in leading worship, engaging others in listening and prophetic prayer, and holds ministry experience in various capacities. Erin holds a bachelor’s degree in Christian Theology with a minor in Spanish from Seattle Pacific University. She and her husband, Chris, have four children and co-lead The Salvation Army in San Francisco where they work with individuals experiencing homelessness, men who are in recovery, and women who are forcibly employed in the sex-trade industry.