By Jeff Ahlberg
A world changed. You could even say it was disrupted. The course of humanity would never be the same because of one tiny baby born to humble beginnings.
We all know this story, but do we really live our Christmas season as though it will change the world? This year Amor Ministries is challenging you to do just that. Join us for 24 Days of Disrupt this Advent season to help Christmas have an even greater impact on your family, community, and the world around you.
We created 24 Days of Disrupt to help families and individuals better prepare their hearts for Christ’s arrival, which is the true purpose of Advent. With a calendar and a devotional guide that provide daily challenges, we hope to stretch people in new ways and help them see others through the eyes of Jesus. At the end of the 24 days, we believe hearts will be transformed and families and individuals will go into the new year with renewed missional mind-sets.
As you work toward this new mind-set, your personal finance choices may be disrupted. The Advent calendar helps by raising funds to support families in Mexico and South Africa. Through a number of challenges in the devotional, we ask people to give a portion of their Christmas budget to specific areas of ministry; it’s a reminder that Christmas is not meant for simply buying and giving extravagant gifts. God gave his Son to the world, and we, in turn, are called to sacrifice so others may know his love.
This calendar and devotional serve as a daily reminder to think and pray for the work of Amor each day. Amor works to keep families together in Mexico and South Africa daily, and our work is funded through the generous gifts of our supporters. We give out these tools to transform people’s hearts and communities, and we ask that they make Amor a part of their Christmas giving.
Last year, my family and I committed to go through the 24 Days of Disrupt. Having two young kids and one on the way made some parts more challenging than others, but all in all, it was a great experience that really disrupted and enriched our Christmas.
Here are five things to consider when going through 24 Days of Disrupt, as well as some of the stories my family and I went through in the process.
1. It’s OK to miss a day!
When people set out on the 24 Days of Disrupt challenge last year, they committed to do whatever was on the devotional or calendar for that day. Some days it was as simple as praying for someone or donating to Amor. Other days were a bit harder and involved inviting your neighbor to dinner or calling someone you had a falling out with and reconciling with them. We found people would be gung ho their first week, but then, if they missed a day, they stopped altogether, assuming they were too far behind.
The 24 Days of Disrupt gives you 24 unique challenges that do not compound on each other. So if you miss one or two days, you needn’t worry. Just pick up at the next day or go back to the ones you missed. The most important thing is don’t give up.
2. Create a mission statement.
The first day of 24 Days of Disrupt involves creating an individual or family mission statement. It sets the tone for the next 24 days and creates a baseline for your family during the holiday season. This exercise was very beneficial for my family and me, as it forced us to talk about things we all assumed. We had to think about what we were all about and what we wanted others to receive from us. What does “serving the Lord” look like in this house, to this family?
The great thing is that this document changes as your family changes. What was relevant in a family of five might look different to empty nesters. Have fun and be creative.
Participating in the 24 Days of Disrupt is even better in community. Whether it’s with friends, neighbors, small groups, or your entire church, going through these challenges together creates great memories and meaningful discussions of what living a missional life really looks like. It is also a great way to have some accountability and friendly competition.
On one of the 24 Days of Disrupt challenges, we were asked to turn off all electricity in the house and spend the night “unplugged.” So my wife lit candles, I started a bonfire in the backyard, and we sat with our kids in the darkness. It was amazing how peaceful and fun it was. It provided an opportunity to share with our kids how many people around the world live.
4. Keep it in perspective.
As you go through each day, it is important to remember why you are doing it and how it is disrupting your life. Think about what Mary and Joseph were experiencing. Ponder what life would be like if Christmas involved a true spirit of generosity. Let the daily devotions inspire you to participate in the challenges and give joyfully of yourself and your many resources.
One challenge asks us to give away one of our possessions—something we really like that may even be brand-new. My wife and I extended this challenge to our kids. The kids gave away some of their favorite toys, but for some reason I couldn’t do it. That experience really made me think about what value I place on “stuff” . . . it really convicted me. The rest of the Christmas season I found myself giving more freely.
5. Be open to the challenge.
The disruption in your life occurs only when you are willing to be open and take a risk. Some of the challenges are tough, requiring you to go outside of your comfort zone. But after you do them, you will be blessed.
The toughest challenge for our family was to invite our neighbors over for dinner. We are fairly new to the neighborhood, and our neighbors on both sides tend to keep to themselves. In the end, we could never find a time that would work, but we did take over some cookies and a card wishing them a Merry Christmas.
It is amazing how that gesture opened up a huge door. We all know each other’s names now. When our son was born, they brought over a gift and card for us! We have great conversations in front of our houses, and seeing waves and smiling faces makes it feel more like a great neighborhood.
We are still working on having them over for dinner, but I am confident it will happen, and asking them has become a lot easier.
How It Works
The Advent calendar and devotional provide a daily focus for meditation and a challenge to put into action. Each one helps you prepare for the celebration of Christ’s arrival.
Daily devotions (see box for more information) are paired with the book Disrupted: Cultivating a Mission Focused Life, available at www.amor.org/amorstore.
This devotional has the most impact when done in community, so consider joining our virtual community through Facebook and our blog (search for Amor Ministries on Facebook or @AmorMinistries at Twitter). Update us with stories and pictures of how your Advent season is going. Don’t forget to use #24DaysofDisrupt so your pictures can be easily found.
Jeff Ahlberg serves as marketing team leader with Amor Ministries in San Diego, California.
Go to . . .
• www.amor.org/advent to download the Devotional and Calendar.
• www.amorblog.org to access the archived daily blog from the 24 Days of Disrupt.
• www.amor.org for info about Amor Ministries.