Nurturing the Spirit of Advent with Families at Your Church: Chris Pappalardo & Clayton Greene on the GoodKind Approach

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. I’m talking with Chris Pappalardo and Clayton Greene from The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina. Chris is Editor on the Creative Arts team and Clayton is the Summit Collaborative Director.

Have you started planning for Christmas yet at your church? Are you looking for a way to help your congregation embrace the true meaning of the holiday amidst the hustle and bustle of the season? As co-founders of GoodKind, Chris and Clayton share how Advent Blocks, their most popular tool, is a unique and tangible way to help kids and adults anticipate Jesus during the holiday season. Listen to the episode learn how you can use it at your church this Christmas.

  • Engage and connect. // The challenge during the holiday season isn’t that families have no context for what the Christmas story is, or that they haven’t spent time reading those Bible passages. Rather it’s that in December it can get lost with everything else going on. When Clayton’s daughter expressed that Christmas felt like it was more about presents than Jesus, Clayton reached out to Chris to create something tangible that would build the anticipation for Christ’s arrival. Advent Blocks provide a visual and interactive experience that keeps the focus on Jesus throughout the season. They capture kids’ attention and make them excited about turning the blocks each day.
  • Walking through the whole bible. // Rather than starting with Mary being visited by the angel as most Advent calendars do, Chris and Clayton decided to use the blocks to tell the story of God’s presence throughout the entire bible, with the finish line being Christmas. In the stories, the participants see how sin drives God away and are constantly asking the question, will God ever come back to stay? This refrain helps build the anticipation of Jesus ultimately coming to bring the help and hope we need for the problems we’ve encountered since Adam and Eve.
  • Simple and fun. // The impact of Advent Blocks on families and their Christmas celebrations has been incredible. Families have embraced Advent Blocks as a meaningful tradition, with children eagerly participating. Chris and Clayton have made it simple to start so adults can just pick up the guide and begin. The visual elements of Advent Blocks, such as turning the blocks each day and the star representing God and Jesus coming to earth, add to the excitement and anticipation. The repetition of refrains and playful language in the stories keeps everyone engaged, from young children to older family members.
  • Participate together as a church. // Churches can also benefit from using Advent Blocks as a resource for their congregation. The Local Church Program on the GoodKind website allows churches to purchase Advent Blocks in bulk and give them away or sell them at a discount to their people. It’s a way to do discipleship together as a church community. Additional resources, like a guide targeted to adults apart from the blocks and sermon series starter kit, are also available to enhance the community experience and create momentum in your church.
  • Sermon series starter kit. // Every year Chris writes a sermon series starter kit that coincides with the story and blocks featured on the Sundays of Advent. The original design files for the blocks are also included so that a church’s design team can incorporate them into the teaching and prep for the series. Pastors can then use this kit to bring the whole church into alignment during the Christmas season.

To find out more about the Advent Blocks Local Church Program and get 50% off a sample set, visit GoodKind’s website.

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Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Hey, everybody welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have decided to tune in. Super excited for today’s conversation you know most weeks we bring you one leader who will both inspire and equip you, and today we’ve got two! This is amazing! We’ve got Chris Pappalardo and Clayton Greene. They both serve at Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina. If you do not know this church, I do not know where you have been. Chris is the Editor on the Creative Arts team; Clayton is the Summit Collaborative Director. Together Chris and Clayton started GoodKind with the goal of helping people develop the good kind of habits and holiday celebrations.

Rich Birch — They’re best known for a tool that we’re going to get a chance to talk about today, Advent Blocks. It’s a tangible meaningful way to help kids and parents anticipate Jesus ah, not just presents but Christmas and this is important at this time of year because I know many of us are starting to have that Christmas thing bubbling in the back of our mind, and we’re thinking about gosh, What are we doing? What are we doing to get ready for that? And I want to talk about how, you know, they’ve seen this help in so many churches. So welcome to the show. So glad you’re here, guys.

Clayton Greene — Thank you for having us, Rich. We’re we’re really excited to be here. And that introduction, man, you you you nailed it – that that’s us to a T.

Rich Birch — Yeah, Clayton, is there anything there that I should fill into my picture, like what did we miss about, you know, the the introduction?

Clayton Greene — We’ll get into this – Chris and I are actually friends too. We’re co-workers. We’re coworkers at you know at our day job. We were cofounders at our, GoodKind, I guess you know we call it side gig in the in the business but um, and also we’re friends – we we like each other too.

Rich Birch — Nice.

Clayton Greene — So that’s that’s always fun when you’re working with people that you like.

Rich Birch — So first question for you, Chris. Is Clayton just overstepping there? Is it really that you’re friends with…

Chris Pappalardo — Wow.

Rich Birch — …that he’s friends with you but you’re not really friends with him? Just kidding.

Chris Pappalardo — Yeah, I love that you you dove right into this. and you’re just just you’re trying to get a yeah trying to get a…

Rich Birch — Hard hitting. It’s hard hitting ah journalism here.

Chris Pappalardo — …DTR for us, right?

Rich Birch — Yeah yeah, um, like.

Chris Pappalardo — Yeah, Clayton, Clayton is a good friend. I, you know, I don’t rank them I, like in my mind I want to rank them and I recognize this is not a healthy thing. But if I were to rank them…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Chris Pappalardo — …he’d be near the top. So.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Clayton Greene — But, Rich, it’s a fair question. Because we actually on our podcast., we do something called holi-yay or holi-nay.

Rich Birch — Okay.

Clayton Greene — And it’s where we go through these random holidays and we decide if they’re good or not.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Clayton Greene — There is a holiday, I believe it’s in June?

Chris Pappalardo — It’s in June, yeah.

Clayton Greene — …every year where it’s best best friends day.

Rich Birch — Oh.

Clayton Greene — And last year it’s the second time we’ve talked about it on our podcast and it’s such an interesting day right? because do you only get one, can you have multiple. And so Chris is one of my best friends. I’m like ah I’m like an elementary school age girl in terms of I have lots of best friends, and Chris is one of them.

Rich Birch — Love it. Well, Clayton,I’d love to hear about so I had heard about this this tool, this Advent Blocks tool. And it captured my imagination, I think man, there’s something here. There’s what what a cool idea. Ah talk to me kind of a high level. What is Advent Blocks? What is this?

Clayton Greene — Yeah, Advent Blocks is a Christmas practice that helps families engage with their kids and everybody in the home all throughout the Advent season. Um, you know, we we made it because there’s this in building anticipation, kind of all throughout the fall, especially all throughout December. And in December inevitably it ends up being about all those presents under the tree, right?

Rich Birch — So true.

Clayton Greene — So there’s this building in anticipation. There’s music. There’s lights. There’s everything and we wanted to make something that would rival like that anticipation. And Advent Blocks, it ended up. ah, being just that for us.

Clayton Greene — In fact, it was actually born out of it was an accident so to speak. Um, many many years ago. I forget what year it was at this point so I won’t even try. But ah my daughter Kara who was 5 at the time said to me on December 23rd I think, 22nd maybe, she said, Daddy, Mommy and Daddy. You say that Christmas is all about Jesus, but it feels like Christmas is all about presents, right?

Rich Birch — Ooh ouch.

Clayton Greene — And what a knife in the back. So…

Rich Birch — Ouch!

Clayton Greene — And we have no time to recover.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Clayton Greene — We have zero time to recover that year. So fast forward a year. It’s in November and I’m kind of scouring the internet trying to find something that would be tangible in the middle of the home that would actually drive us towards Christmas Day to be thinking about Jesus and not just the presents. I’m not taking the presents away, but wanted a drive towards that. And I I just couldn’t find anything that quite tangibly and beautifully kind of like kind of built anticipation in the same way.

Clayton Greene — So I kind of started drawing some blocks and how they might move. I like working with wood. I showed my wife three options. She pointed at the 1 in the middle and said that one. And it’s 95% of what she pointed at that day. That same day I texted Chris and said, hey Chris…

Rich Birch — Let’s do it.

Clayton Greene — …like I want to I want to do a ah creative writing project. Let’s do an Advent thing that we do with our families, and immediately Chris said yes.

Rich Birch — Chris, I’d love to hear more. So the thing to be honest when I looked into this I the thing I immediately thought of was Elf on the Shelf. And you know Elf on the Shelf, what a ah like it’s amazing because that kind of came from out of nowhere. I remember when that first showed up I was like the way they presented that product was like it had been around forever. And it did. It became like this big kind of phenomenal thing, but it it focuses on the same thing, which is like, hey, presents, presents, presents.

Rich Birch — I loved how this your tool here really drives back to the story. It ultimately drives people back that drives families back to scripture. Chris, can you talk me through how do you do that? How was that function look like? How how is this going to help families actually wrestle with the story of Jesus coming?

Chris Pappalardo — Yeah, so the challenge here with with Advent, at least in our experience is not that families have no context for what the Christmas story is, and have spent no time like going to those passages and trying to read them. Like we know the story pretty well. Like Clayton was saying, the challenge is in December it’s just a blitz of everything else. And so we need something that the kids really wanted to do.

Chris Pappalardo — That the blocks the mechanism of the blocks makes it so that as a centerpiece in the home, it’s decorative, it’s playful. The kids are looking at it are like hey we got to turn the block, we got to do number 9. And there’s that accountability that’s that’s drawn in from the kids, which is just just beautiful. But I loved the challenge. When Clayton reached out to me and he said, hey want to do an Advent thing? I was like I’m in. I don’t I don’t even know the full idea. But Christmas is my favorite holiday. Let’s do it.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Chris Pappalardo — And so we took the the idea of saying like well if we’re going to do this over all of December let’s tell the story of God’s presence throughout all of the bible and have like that finish line be Christmas. Because that’ll help build the anticipation to say like, hey, this isn’t just a few stories about Mary and the Shepherds, which are wonderful. But it’s like you know there’s a problem in the very beginning with Adam and Eve is that they sinned and they had to leave, and God seemed far away. That was actually a problem with Noah and Moses and David and Hagar, and and so you see this problem crop up again and again, you’re like wow is God ever going to come back? Will God ever come back to stay? And that refrain which we have in the writing ends up driving a lot of the anticipation. So by the time they get to Christmas they’re like, this is it! This is! It’s exactly the excitement they should have like yeah what God came to earth? And like yes, this is this is what we’ve been wanting the whole time.

Rich Birch — Talk me through, Chris, like the like an individual day, like at the level of I’m a family doing that. So I I get the idea so like, hey, we’re talking about Noah today.

Chris Pappalardo — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Is ah does the tool provide, here’s like a scripture reading, here’s some thoughts on that. What how do we what’s that actually look like?

Chris Pappalardo — Yeah, with everything we do, we try to make it as simple as possible so that when you get our stuff it’s just like like I’ve got enough things that I may be thinking about, please put everything in my hands so that I just sit with my kids and it’s all ready. I just open up and start.

Chris Pappalardo — So we’ve got the blocks that are lined up 1 to 25 and there’s an accompanying book that goes with it with 25 stories. So I’ve taken 25 of these stories from the bible and just retold them, condensed them down, put it in kid language like elementary school age language. It’s got the reference at the top of each day. So if you would open up and, you know, one of the ones in the teens you would see is the story of ah ah, maybe Saul, right? And that one’s called a very tall, very strong, very brave king: the story of Saul. And underneath it’s got the passage. So if you want to you can go later and you can read the whole thing with your kids. When you read it, it takes about ah, 3 or 4 minutes to read through. And it’s playful and fun and the kids are loving it. And at the end the end of each day it has this line where, you know like I said, God couldn’t remain, he seemed far away. So Saul and God’s people began to hope and to pray God will you come to earth to stay. That same little couplet or the triplet, I guess, at the end of each day where you’re getting you’re getting a digest of the story. You’re seeing, Okay, this isn’t just a story this guy made up. I can go read the original. And then the kids kids kind of have a handy way of of grasping what that is.

Rich Birch — Yeah I love that. Clayton, I’m sure um, you know, this has been rolled out for, you know, a while it’s you’ve had a couple Christmases through here. Do you have any stories of maybe a family or 2 that you know how this has become a part of their Christmas celebration kind of what that’s looked like? Or maybe even in your own family, what’s that look like?

Clayton Greene — Yeah I mean there’s there are tons and tons of stories. It’s it’s one of the things that kind of keeps us us going in it all, I will say the most consistent story um is probably similar to one that I had with my my friend who’s also on staff with us at The Summit, who we were at an event ah, in December, you know, out standing on the sidewalk, waving to people um the way Danny Franks told us to. I think Danny’s been on your podcast here before…

Rich Birch — Yes, love Danny. Love it.

Clayton Greene — Um so they’re waving at people and doing what we’re supposed to do and he says, Man, when I left the house tonight, my kids mean they were just begging me, don’t leave. We have to do the blocks; we have to do the blocks.

Clayton Greene — Or or what time are you going to be home because we have to make sure that we do the block tonight? It’s crazy. You know, ah a lot of this again was accident. Um, it’s like we’ve made the kids into little accountability devices.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Clayton Greene — If you give them something fun and they know I can do the fun thing, and my my grownups will do it with me. Like they they will beg to do it over and over and over again. So I think the most consistent thing that we hear from people is that it was, you know, I’ve started an advent guide before but I’ve never finished one. And I finished this one, right?

Rich Birch — Oh yeah, totally.

Clayton Greene — It didn’t drop off in the middle, it built it was building all the way through. Chris does this really neat thing on day seventeen where that refrain that he referred to changes a little bit. And so it just continues to build more and more and more through the new testament stories. And so it’s it’s the fact that they started and they continued, they started and they finished. As we kind of reverse engineered that, I think one of the things that um helps with that is, like Chris said the numbers, you know, you’re turning it every day. You you take the block, you turn in the number it shows an image that actually matches an image that is in the book, and you continue to turn those blocks every day and there’s a star that sits on top of the block of that day.

Clayton Greene — And then there’s a globe on the other end on the top of the 25. So this star is literally marching across the blocks…

Rich Birch — So cool. Yeah.

Clayton Greene — …day after day after day. And there’s this approximation of the star representing God and Jesus coming to earth to stay. And so there’s that, we built a song into it. Ad so our family that first year it really kind of blew me away how much on Christmas day, the the, and Christmas eve, the girls were just they were talking about the presents; that doesn’t change, right? It is not gonna change. But they also very much wanted to sing the song. They very much wanted to read the story. They very much were aware of and anticipating that part of the celebration. And not only the present part of the the celebration. It’s and and that story just happens time and time and again.

Chris Pappalardo — I think my favorite part…

Rich Birch — Yeah I love it. You know, Chris, what are…

Chris Pappalardo — I stepped on your toes, Rich, now.

Rich Birch — Yeah, jump in, jump in. Yeah, no go go jump in. It’s good.

Chris Pappalardo — My my favorite part is I think we accomplished something we set out to do which is to say like, how do we let people know what Christmas is all about? I’ve had not I have had kids and grownups reach out to say, Ah I I never realized that the theme ofGod’s presence and God coming to earth was all throughout the bible, or that was the kind of a key problem. Or I’ve never had somebody summarize the message of Christmas, hey God’s coming to earth this day so so well, and now my kids repeated it. And I’m like oh that’s that’s beautiful that they’ve got like they own that now and see that in a fresh way.

Rich Birch — Yeah I’d love to stick with you, Chris, around the thing to be honest, if I can tell you kind of my impression is I’m like there seems like there’s a lot going on under the hood here. The product is it’s visually beautiful to look at like it’s a nice looking thing. It’s the kind of thing that you um, you know it would look great on your shelf kind of thing. But then it’s also I have a friend of mine, Tim Lucas, who always says man we got to put the cookies on the bottom shelf. We’ve got to make the main thing the main thing. And and this seems to do that. It’s like driving to the message. Help us unpack that maybe at like ah what are all what kind of behind it as a designer, as a thinker, you know as someone who’s trying to teach some you know spiritual truth in a way through this, what are some of those things that you’re actually doing to try to make it sticky for people?

Chris Pappalardo — Yeah, so I’ve mentioned the refrain a few times. And um the thing about kids curriculum I’m learning, anything with children, is this is the way like catechisms are or anything that seems very, very simple ah, is actually very difficult to get just right? You can make things memorable but to distill down a really complicated bible idea, a bunch of stories, in a way that’s simple enough that someone hears it and they say oh yeah, great, easy. It it comes off as easy, but it’s not easy to to create. Um and so to to like we did a lot of lot of workshopping on like, well what is the line? What is the one sentence we want? And I was addicted to school for a long time, and so I went to seminary for a very long time and so I’m trying to pour in all of the insights that I’ve got theologically, but then say like I’ve got to translate this down. Like you said, cookies on the bottom shelf.

Chris Pappalardo — So the refrain is one. There’s another recurring phrase that we use throughout the book. Um, the idea I wanted to capture was the idea of God’s justice and truth. In the end God God reigns. That’s language that’s ah, that’s a little bit too inaccessible for like a 5 year old, right? So I say the the promise is that one day God will come to take all the darkness and make it light, to take all the wrong and make it right. And it’s simple, it rhymes, it’s catchy, but underneath that is…

Rich Birch — There’s a lot there. Yeah.

Chris Pappalardo — …Hey there’s a promise that God’s justice and righteousness will one day make the world whole, which is a beautifully rich thing. So that’s that’s one piece of it. I see Clayton wanting to jump in here. So.

Clayton Greene — Yeah, Chris, well I just wanted to to kind of brag on you a little bit. I mean there there are things our family experiences Chris’s writing secondhand, right? Even though I’m part of the creation. My girls will pray those refrains. It’s not just the one at the end of every day but that one about the the dark things being made light. Our daughters, that’s a part of our family’s language now and it comes from the repetition from these stories. It also does… some my daughter Kara’s favorite thing, and this is not kind of this is cookies on the bottom shelf but it’s like you know, just because it tastes good. There’s this part in the Jonah story where it says he went as far left as he could. And then he went lefter. and and our girls just think that’s hilarious like his little play on words there.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Clayton Greene — Ah in the new in the new testament, one of the things he does in order to build the excitement is anytime an angel appears he uses this this phrasing, um it was too bright to be a person. It was way too loud to be a person. Um, and then I they realized THIS. IS. AN. ANGEL – all caps with periods. And it’s just things like that that just make it so that keep everybody engaged. We’ll tell people all the time, the sweet spot is like two to twelve, three to thirteen, something like that. But if you got somebody in that range and then somebody that’s 16 or 17 in the house or even the parents or you know a college student that’s back home. Those people pay attention to this story as well, and often will tear up at some point through it…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Clayton Greene — …because they see how meaningful it is. It’s it’s simple, but it’s not simplistic. And so there’s there’s a there lot of beautiful things that Chris does with the writing.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that strikes me as well that this is one of those times a year um that we can as church leaders encourage our families to have spiritual conversations that does feel like it’s in sync with the culture, like it doesn’t feel like hey this is so out of you know left field. It feels like, you know, you still walk into Walmart and there’s still Christmas music playing. And a lot of that Christmas music is stuff we hear in the church…

Clayton Greene — It is.

Rich Birch — …and it encourages actually families because of the because kids are at the center you know of the consumer side of Christmas. It does kind of there there’s this underlying like, hey it’s good for families to do stuff together at this time of year. Man, if we could leverage that for these good things, that’s that’s incredible. You know, Chris, was that a bit of what was going on as you were thinking, how do we kind of leverage this for you know for what Jesus wants to do in people’s lives?

Chris Pappalardo — Yeah, a hundred percent. Um you know, I was deeply influenced with this project by a couple of the story bibles that I’ve…

Rich Birch — Oh yeah, so true.

Chris Pappalardo — …you know ah am still reading to my kids. And there’s a number that are fantastic, but I think we all know and love Sally Lloyd Jones Jesus Storybook Bible. And part of the beauty of that resource is in addition to the phenomenal illustrations that the Jago did, but in the writing the beauty of it is kids really love the stories and how they’re written. But when a grownup reads those, they come to see the beauty of the gospel in a way that they haven’t before, and they’re like they’re blown away by it. And so that was it’s it’s ambitious to say that’s what I was aiming for. But that’s the target I feel like we should always be aiming for.

Rich Birch — Yeah, no, absolutely.

Chris Pappalardo — C.S. Lewis once said about kids stuff that if ah if a kid’s book isn’t worth reading by a grownup, then it’s not worth reading for a kid. And so that was part of what we’re trying to bring to this is like look, this can’t just be something…

Rich Birch — That’s good.

Chris Pappalardo — …that a 4 year old likes. This has to be something that a 40 year old will say, wow thank you for for showing me that.

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love that.

Chris Pappalardo — Um and I think I think we did it.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s amazing. You know we have I love that that story. But it was funny you were saying saying that because I was thinking about that as we were talking about this. We we lead, my wife and I lead ah a young married, or a parents with young kids small group. And we’re definitely not that our kids are college age but you know we’re quite a ways out of that. I wish it we were there but we’re not. And we have this one couple in our group who, you know, those people that um, they’ve just come to Jesus in the last couple of years and it’s it’s amazing to watch. And I love like there I you know often say like they’re our target, like as a church that’s who we’re trying to reach. And I love I’m going to get choked up when um, when we’re like opening the bible together as a group, I love the the dad, the man, the husband in this this couple, because like we’ll say oh you want to look at something in John. And I love it because he like goes to the index and finds, Okay John…

Clayton Greene — Yeah.

Rich Birch — That’s page, you know, 1223 and then he flips to that and and like I just love that. But we gave them for last year at Christmas we gave all the families we gave them that ah Storybook Bible. And it was interesting because all ah a couple months later we were it just came up in discussion somehow. And 100% of the families and they’re really across the kind of spiritual spectrum so people have been walking with Jesus for a long time and then you have a couple like this. They all said man I’m seeing the story of God in a new way because I’m reading this to my kids, right?

Chris Pappalardo — Yes, yes.

Rich Birch — And, man what if we could replicate that for our people in our churches that would be amazing. That’d be incredible. Clayton, you know, I’d love to ask you this – so to me as a church leader… First of all I was hoping today’s conversation would kind of open this resource up for people. It could be a great thing for people that are listening to to take a look at it. But, really I was struck that this could be the kind of thing we could do as a church together. Like can’t can’t we, like you to 3 to 13 that’s a huge span, like are there churches that have ever got out and said, hey maybe we should try to offer this to our people or point them towards it? Have you ever done anything like that, Clayton.

Clayton Greene — Yeah, and I was so, absolutely. Um, you know and I feel the same thing. You know, before I was in my current role that you talked about before, I was an executive pastor of a church in Wilmington. And getting everybody to to do something together often creates a lot more momentum and and a positive experience among the whole group. And like we think about that organizationally but it also is something that is like insanely biblical as well, that the group is kind of moving and and is and is doing this together that it can’t be something that is done alone. So we make a resource that certainly is delivered to individuals, but positively what we’ve seen in our experience is a lot of individuals invite other neighbors and family members and friends in order to to do Advent Blocks alongside them. And then it started with our church maybe one or two others the the first year that they’re just like hey we’re just gonna get a whole bunch and kind of deliver them to everyone.

Clayton Greene — And so it’s kind of built on itself every year to the point that now we ah officially and intentionally have something we call the local church program.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Clayton Greene — You know we work in the local church and we believe in the local church, and so um this [inaudible] happens begins in the home, but it’s best than when done with the whole church. And that’s like something we believe in so much that we we do this program. We sell the blocks two churches in bulk for them to either give away or resell at a discount to their people. And we we do it at a price that our business advisors tell us is too low for what we should be doing…

Rich Birch — Sure, oh that’s amazing.

Clayton Greene — But we do that because we do that because we actually believe that this is this is gonna be the best place for these people to be doing it. So you can register for the local church program on the website. There’s a place specifically for local churches. You automatically get that that discount in bulk as long as you buy 12. That’s it. The reason it’s 12, just so everybody knows, is because that’s how many come in a big…

Rich Birch — Because the disciples, right?

Clayton Greene — Yes, because of the disciples is why is why.

Chris Pappalardo — Yes, that’s a hundred percent.

Rich Birch — Or the tribes.

Clayton Greene — Ah, that’s that’s how many come in like a a big box. Um, and so, yeah, we we even made a set that is specifically for them to make it as accessible to families as possible. Um, we there is a song I mentioned before, but we actually made the song into a lyric video…

Rich Birch — Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yep.

Clayton Greene — …because you know sometimes in kids church to like put it up. And so it’s a lyric video that you can that you can use. You can watch it on Youtube for free with ads or if you’re a size church that you want to have without ads, there’s the opportunity for you to for one of those third parties in order to get it in that way. And we even we we added in something maybe two years ago called He is Here.

Clayton Greene — I mean like Chris just said, adults get a really good benefit from reading The King is Coming which is the name of the book inside the Advent Block set. But we wrote an adult guide, He is Here, that walks alongside the same stories and same theme, but it it can be done with or without the blocks, which is important. Because there are people in the church if this is going to be a big emphasis for the church that don’t have kids in the home, right? Single people, people that have their kids are out of school or the kids are kind of aged out of what this this is. You have grandparents. So there’s just tons and tons of people that if you want to kind of get the whole church into alignment, we also now have this resource for them as well. It’s called He is Here. Chris Chris wrote that. It’s it’s similar reflections with some some moments and some encouragement to prayer and practice. And so it’s it’s something that we put a big emphasis on. Chris every year takes the Sundays that line up with the the stories in The King is Coming and we write a sermon series starter kit…

Rich Birch — Oh wow!

Clayton Greene — …which says, hey here are the sermons that you could do that would align with that very specific day. And and by the way this is Chris this is Chris’s day job. If there’s anything we provide that you want, you want this sermon series starter kit.

Rich Birch — Sure.

Clayton Greene — Because this is what Chris does for J.D.…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Clayton Greene — …he and all the teachers at The Summit is help build the engine with which the research and the ideas and all those things are prepared for then the person who is teaching locally to contextually deliver that in the Spirit to those people. But yeah, so we just we try to just hook churches up like crazy.

Rich Birch — That’s amazing. So so if I catch this right, well first of all, that’s incredible. I think that’s amazing. Um I love the idea of like, hey this is going to be our December series, and we’re going to launch this Thanksgiving weekend maybe or something like that. Or somewhere we’re talking about it in November.

Chris Pappalardo — Yep.

Rich Birch — And the blocks are available for so for sale or for free. That’s even better. That’s amazing. Um, you know, pick up this resource and then we’re going to talk about it through ah through Christmas. Um, that’s that’s incredible. Listen, friends, I know I’ve worked with a lot of teaching pastors and I’m just going to say the thing that’s going on in your head. You know, that preaching at Christmas time is tough, friends, because people know the punchline. They know it’s going to be all about Jesus is returning. What if… or Jesus is coming. What if this year you did something totally different and and plugged this into your into your system into your approach? I think, man, that could be a real win ah you know for your people.

Rich Birch — Ah you know, Chris, talked to me about churches that have leverage this as a kind of a total teaching thing. Do you have any kind of sense of you know the the experience as at a church level kind of what difference that’s made for for them if they’ve done the kind of whole series thing in you know at their church?

Chris Pappalardo — Yeah, I mean the executive pastors, teaching pastors, if you’re in leadership you you know how valuable alignment is. Like you can preach the paint off the walls for like 4, 8, 12 doesn’t matter how many weeks, and if it’s just the sermon going in one direction and everything else in the church is going in other directions, you just wait six months and if you want to take the wind out of your sails ask people what what’s been going on in the church, and then none of them will remember what you preached on.

Rich Birch — It’s true.

Chris Pappalardo — Um, but just add a little bit of intentionality get that alignment. So what’s going on in kids, what’s going on in small groups, what’s going on on the stage is all the same, and then years later people will say like, you know what series is fantastic? You know it really changed my life? And they’ll point back to the thing. The preaching may not have been any better, but you were aligned and so it got you moving.

Chris Pappalardo — Um, we’re we’re still kind of early in this and still building, but a friend of mine who left to be kids pastor at a church in Florida was sending me—they used our our the whole kit the whole local church program last year—and so he was sending me updates every Sunday and he was like yeah preach this and his wife is really crafty, incredibly artistic. So in addition to doing like the sermon on that passage and the advent block for day, say four, they took a huge like cardboard box and painted, I mean like six feet tall

Rich Birch — Wow.

Chris Pappalardo — …and painted it so that each day, each Sunday it looked like the little, you know, two inch block you have on the mantle, but it was the image from the advent blocks just up on the stage.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s so cool.

Chris Pappalardo — So everybody was looking at it and you know the kids loved it. They’re like that’s it that they got an Advent Block, they got a huge Advent Block. And so it it was really catalytic for the right…

Rich Birch — Why don’t we have the big Advent Block, dad? That’s so cool.

Chris Pappalardo — Yeah, so that was just a lot of fun to see that.

Rich Birch — Yeah I love that. That is so cool. Well, can you give me a sense, so don’t talk about the amazing discount because I want people to to go and check out your website, drop by there and and reach out for you that. But what is the kind of retail cost of these things, like if I just want to buy one of these and get it shipped to my house, what what does that what does that cost?

Clayton Greene — Yeah, it’s $59.99 for our Traditions set.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Clayton Greene — So it’s a hardback book and a wooden box. It’s going to last for generations.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Clayton Greene — Then we have a Standard set which is I think $44.99. It comes in a cardboard box with a paperback book. It’s the same blocks. So still going to last really, really long time and and be stored really, really well.

Clayton Greene — And then the the church set before the really good discount that everyone’s going to go check out it it retails for about $34.99 um which is where it starts. But you’ll just have to go look and your eyes will go wide whenever you see what we actually will give it to churches for.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s amazing. And so if we want to we where do we want to send people just at goodkind.shop – is that the place we want to send them there, Clayton?

Clayton Greene — Yeah, goodkind.shop and you’ll see a tab there for the local church program. That’s going to be the the easiest way for you to find this.

Rich Birch — Yeah I think this is is what a wonderful tool. What a great way to ah you know to to wrap up or to really you know point your people to at this time of year. What time of year Clayton do people need to really get the ball rolling if they’re thinking hey I want to do this. Let’s say I’m a church of a thousand people where like you obviously have some sense of how many of these things you would normally sell, all that. Is that like ah it feels like we got to get going now like feels like we got to make this decision now. But but when do people need to connect with you guys, Clayton…

Clayton Greene — Yeah.

Rich Birch — …if they want to make that happen?

Clayton Greene — Yeah, it does but based on church and their planning cycles. There are some people beginning now. It’ll continue to increase through about August and then from August it’ll kind of go downhill from there. There are some people that find us later in the year, but they’re usually rushing a little bit.

Clayton Greene — The people who find us in the summer plan an event that will actually bring all the families together and make that gift or that that opportunity in order to purchase at a discount a lot more meaningful. And so I would say you know, hey think Christmas in July you know I mean you you need to be thinking about this now so that you’re primary teachers can have the content to be planning the teaching, so that your graphic designers if you have those you know can can be putting things together, which you can we will send you the original files of all of our designs…

Rich Birch — Wow.

Clayton Greene — …and blocks and everything so that they can kind of piece those things in as well and they walk in and it feels like your church created the entire thing. So yeah, but you’re right think Christmas in July. It’s about time.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, love it. That’s so good. Chris, we’re going to give you the final word just as we as we wrap up. Bring us back home to kind of the heart of you know, kind of behind all this. What are you your your local church people that are trying to make a difference trying to help people. Ah. Ah, bring us back to the vision. Why why you’re doing this kind of end us on that thought today.

Chris Pappalardo — Yeah, I think that’s beautiful. Um, you know we often say we call ourselves GoodKind because we want to cultivate the good kind of of habits and holiday practices. And one of the one of the ways we do that is making products that that take beautiful, profound really deep truths, and we make it simple enough that everybody can engage with it. We really think that there’s going to be more movement, there’s going to be more influence, you’re going to see more catalysts for change if everybody in the church does some really small thing, just all together one one tiny step, then if you have a few folks in the church who are really superheroes.

Chris Pappalardo — And um I really believe our stuff helps folks to take a step so that they can look at it a month later, or six months later and say, hey you know what we prayed a little bit more because of that. We actually made this Christmas about Jesus and um, that. I find that tremendously encouraging because the big stuff, the you know the impressive stuff can fade. But if everybody in our church is doing is knowing Jesus a little better, following him a little more closely than I think that’s that’s phenomenal in what we’re after.

Rich Birch — That’s so good. Well thank you guys so much. I really appreciate you being on today’s episode. And I and I hope church leaders that you’re listening in you’ll take action on this. I do think this could be a really cool. You know thing for you to inject into the life of your church into your people real helpful tool that like you say could for generations make a huge impact. Clayton, remind us one more time where do we want to send people online if they want to connect with you guys?

Clayton Greene — Yeah, look us up at goodkind.shop, goodkind.shop – you can find everything there. You can find our podcast, instagram, of course the local church program.

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it. And there’s so much there. you know we talked about one thing: advent blocks. But you guys do other stuff too. We’ll have to have another conversation down the road about those things. So thanks so much, friends. Thanks for tuning in. I appreciate you guys being here today.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.