Imago Dei Community, Portland, OR
Adapted from an article, “Restoring the Scandal of Christmas” by Rick McKinley, in the Fall 2007 issue of Creation Care magazine.
Imago Dei Community began meeting weekly in 2000 for worship, teaching and gathering in community to develop their core group. As of 2008, an average of 1400 people attend Imago Dei every Sunday. Many of those people are active in serving the city of Portland, OR in one of their Missional Communities (externally focused ministries), while others participate in their Home Communities, School of Theology and in various other internally focused ministries.
In 2006, Pastor Rick McKinley and other pastor-friends pulled the plug on Christmas. What started out as an experiment ended up transforming their church, people, and a whole bunch of other people who shared the love of Christ: the Advent Conspiracy.
Central to The Advent Conspiracy is worship, in that Jesus is worshipped in such a way that his followers experience the power of Christ coming into the world. Because God gave the world a relational gift, his Son, they decided to give meaningful and relational gifts too. Christ resisted the empire of Herod by coming in weakness as a baby; the Imago Dei Community decided to resist the empire of consumerism and spend a lot less.
The Imago Dei Community asked their congregation to live the advent story—not just talk and sing about it or dress up like shepherds. They were asked to live counter-culture lives in three ways: 1) resist a culture that tells us what to buy, wear, and spend with no regard to bringing glory to Jesus; 2) say “no” to over-spending and saying “yes” to giving in relational ways; and 3) redistribute the money saved by giving relationally and resisting the “must-have” culture to the poor and vulnerable in their communities. In addition, The Advent Conspiracy encouraged each church and organization that participated to designate at least 25% of its re-distribution offering for clean water projects around the world.
By following Christ’s example of becoming poor to make us rich, close to half a million dollars was collected between five churches and redistributed to local and international service organizations, blessing hundreds of people, locally and globally.
Word spread of the success of this campaign, and other churches started asking Imago Dei about what they did, causing the dream to grow: What if the church created a conspiracy of kindness at Christmas? What if every church in the West celebrated Christmas this way? What impact could that have on the proclamation of Christ in our communities and our world?
The Advent Conspiracy is a catalyst to help churches and organizations equip their people to engage in the Christmas story in a way that will transform their people and as a result bring transformation to the world through their people, as they worship Christ at Christmas.Imago Dei Community
2830 NE Flanders
Portland, OR 97232
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Office Phone: 503.231.5096
Office Fax: 503.231.5730