By Allen Palmeri
CHESTERFIELD – Albert Pujols is lending his name to Advent Conspiracy (AC), a concept that aims to revolutionize the way Americans do Christmas.
On Nov. 11, the St. Louis Cardinals first baseman, less than two weeks away from winning his third National League Most Valuable Player Award, got right to the point. He told 300 business, civic, and ministerial leaders in The Loft, a multi-purpose room inside The Crossing at Chesterfield, a non-denominational church, to steer clear of his vocation.
“We don’t need to talk about baseball because this is not about baseball,” Pujols said. “This is about Jesus Christ and what we can do to bring Christ back in celebrating Christmas.”
Host Pastor Greg Holder helped write the AC book based on four pillars –worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all. He invited Pujols to help unpack those concepts so the leaders could go out and teach them.
Full worship means starting and ending with Jesus. Christmas should be the party of the year.
The second step means thinking about the $450 billion Americans annually spend every Christmas. Can it be decreased? Are people giving or receiving gifts out of obligation? The goal here is to buy one less gift this Christmas. By faith, those collective actions may create more availability to celebrate Christ.
To give more, in AC lingo, means to give of one’s time. Time is described as a gift to love family and friends. Time spent shopping at the mall may or may not fit into this definition.
The fourth pillar, loving all, is what Jesus does. By spending less at Christmas, believers can join Him in giving resources to those who need help the most.
Consumerism, commercialization, and materialism are all in the crosshairs of AC. Or, for those who prefer to be more positive, the idea behind AC is to recover the true story of Jesus.
“We need to bring that back,” Pujols said. “Instead of getting that big Christmas toy or gift, can you just spend less and give more to those who need it? It would be amazing, the lives that you can change when you do that. I can speak, because I say that to our foundation. People have trusted us with their money. They have faith in God that the things that we are doing are changing lives, and I see that through our foundation every day through email, messages, the things that we are able to do. I’m blessed to be a part of this event.”
A recent estimate of the number of hits at www.adventconspiracy.org was 1.6 million.
“When you participate, the benefit is you are changing lives,” Pujols said. “It’s not about you. It’s about God and about celebrating Christmas.”
One of the more powerful ideas behind AC is to give relationally with a heart to reduce the vast number (800 million) of people around the world who do not have safe drinking water.
Instead of giving exclusively to friends and family, the object of one’s giving may be a pastor in Africa or Asia whose community does not have clean drinking water. Digging deep water wells through Living Water International is the first step. Providing the physical water through the oversight of a pastor or someone else who can then turn around and talk about the living water, Christ, is a proven method of evangelism.
Another creative application of AC would be for Missouri Baptists to give a little less to Aunt Mildred and Grandpa Fred this Christmas and a little more to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
“I know a number of Baptist churches that are saying, ‘We’re doing this, and can we give this to something specific, to our foreign missionary efforts, or to our home missions?’” Holder said. “We celebrate that. It’s us doing Christmas a little bit differently, and then giving to the least of these.”
Increasing our kingdom capacity to evangelize is most assuredly a key tenet of AC.
“How about if together at Christmas we serve the world, and then people start to consider the story of Jesus?” Holder said.