I always like to know a little something about an author before I sit down and open up his or her book. Today, I interview Clayton Greene about his project, Advent Blocks, which is a great resource for families and churches during the Advent season. You may wonder, “Why are we talking about Advent in July?” Well, they’re having a “Christmas in July” special (use the code JULYCHRISTMAS for 10% off). They sold out last year, but you can pre-order now!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Clayton Greene. I live in Durham with my wife, Kristen, and two girls, Cara and Susan. I’m a physical therapist turned executive pastor and church planter, and I currently serve as the director of Summit Collaborative, a family of churches. Oh yeah, on the side I run Advent Blocks with my friends Chris, Brian, and Lindsey.
Can you tell us the story of why you created Advent Blocks?
The idea began in 2018, when our daughter Cara said, “Mom and Dad, you say that Christmas is all about Jesus, but it feels like Christmas is all about presents.” In 2019, after trying to find a tangible, Bible-based guide that made our family excited about Jesus throughout December, we created Advent Blocks.
My friend Chris is a published author, so I called him. He started writing, and I started cutting blocks in my garage. Then, five families in 2019 somehow exploded to 5,000 in 2020.
How do you use Advent Blocks? Is there a guide or devotional to help?
Advent Blocks comes with 27 wooden blocks and a 25-day Bible-based guide that is meaningful for kids ages 3 through 13 (but teenagers and parents love it, too). Before December, you line up the 25 blocks in order and place the star block on the first block and the earth block on the last one.
Each day, you read the story and rotate that day’s block so the image is revealed. Then you move the star block one space to the right, resting on top of that day’s image—and one step closer to the earth block. Turning the block brings excitement, and the moving star gives a visible demonstration of Jesus coming to the world.
Christmas Eve is the big reveal. When you turn all the blocks for a final quarter-turn, you see the theme of the whole guide in simple words on the blocks—Emmanuel, God with us!
What’s the central message you hope people will take away from Advent Blocks?
Emmanuel, God with us! The remarkable element of Christmas is that God has come to earth. But what is uniquely celebrated at Christmas isn’t actually a new thread in the biblical story.
For people in Scripture, an experience of God’s presence changes everything. At the same time, there’s also a strong sense of longing, a desire for God’s presence to be tangible and permanent. With Advent Blocks, we tried to capture both elements—the beauty of and the longing for God’s presence—by walking through various stories in Scripture.
The pulse of the guide is to invite people into the sense of longing for God during the Advent season, just like God’s people felt leading up to the birth of Jesus.
How have Advent Blocks helped your family celebrate Christmas?
It’s a joy to see our girls get as excited about Advent Blocks as they do about their presents (at least it’s close now). Every day they ask to turn the block and look forward to the reading.
And one of our favorite parts is the nightly refrain, the rhyming end to each story the kids start saying—and praying—throughout December. It becomes so natural, they almost yell it on Christmas Day!
For a sneak peek, here’s a video that explains more:
Here are some endorsements:
“Advent Blocks were a brilliant resource that helped our church family engage with The King is Coming . . . and also engage with our local community in sharing that story.”
— Dave Currie, associate minister, Knock Presbyterian Church
“Advent Blocks provided our families a beautiful way to celebrate the season of Advent. The book is rich and right-sized for children, and the blocks are sturdy and visually appealing. Thanks for making a great resource that is sure to become a treasured tradition!”
— Julie Wilding, Next Gen ministry director, The Village Church
“We wanted a resource for our families that tangibly pointed to Jesus, not just on Christmas Day but for the whole Advent season. Advent Blocks helped us accomplish that goal.”
— Josh Navey, kids pastor, Summit Church
How do I get this for my whole church?
Sign up for our local church program.
We believe discipleship rhythms begin in the home but should be done together with the whole church. Save your families some money, and save yourself a ton of time. You can plan your whole church’s Christmas in just 10 minutes!
How can I order a set?
If you want to purchase a set, visit AdventBlocks.com to pre-order. (They’ll ship in October.)
If you had an afternoon to do whatever you’d like, where would we find you?
I’m currently trying to train for a triathlon (but it’s too hot for that in the afternoon). Aside from that, I’m probably reading a book or playing DOS (a game similar to UNO) with my girls.
The Greene family lived in Wilmington, North Carolina for four years, where Clayton was the executive pastor of The Bridge Church. They now live in Durham, North Carolina, where Clayton is the Summit Collaborative director and an elder at The Summit Church’s Downtown Durham campus. Kristen is an in-house lawyer at a clinical research company in the Triangle and claims all creative elements of Advent Blocks as her own.