Childrens mininstries have the responsibility (and wonderful opportunity) to teach children about God and his love. This teaching is offered in many ways and at various times. A significant “teachable moment” arrives each December in the Christmas season. Though we may (understandably) object to the commercialism associated with this season, we can take advantage of this annual opportunity to help children learn about the stunning miracle of Jesus’ birth.
By focusing on Jesus’ birth, we are reminded that, through the Incarnation, the eternal Son of God, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, took on human flesh to become Immanuel (God with us)—God come to be one of us in order to save us. Glory to God in the highest!
The biblical message of Jesus’ birth, winsomely presented at Christmastime, captures the imagination and hearts of children everywhere. Think about it—God chose to enter our world in the flesh of a baby—Jesus, fully God, yet fully now a human baby! Amazing grace!
Why the triune God came to us in this way is part of the mystery of Christ. In coming as a baby, God fully identified with our lowly state—sharing fully our experience, including our suffering. What a powerful way to show children just how much God loves (and likes) them!—he was once a child, just like they are. The Christ child grew up, became a man and died and was resurrected so they can be with him and share his joy forever.
Christmas offers childrens ministry workers a wonderful opportunity to share Jesus with the children they are called to serve. This can be done by reenacting the stories of Jesus’ birth—his nativity in a stable, the visit of the shepherds, and eventual visit of the Wise Men. Many children delight to participate in these reenactments. They also make powerful outreach events.
Christmas-themed decorations in the church building also serve as teaching tools. An evergreen Christmas tree can be a captivating illustration that Jesus is eternal life. Lights on the tree illustrate that Jesus is the light of the world. A manger scene can be used to illustrate the entire nativity story.
To help you capitalize on the opportunity of Christmas, here are some ideas adapted from “Help Your Child Discover the Real Christmas,” published by Gospel Light:
- Help children learn the simple facts of Jesus’ birth. Read the story of the first Christmas to them from Bible storybooks or from easy-to-understand versions of the Bible. Work with your pastor to provide a family-friendly Christmas service (note that Christmas in 2016 falls on a Sunday). This is a great time to feature the classic Christmas hymns and carols that powerfully preach the gospel.
- Visit a Christian bookstore and choose “Baby Jesus” books or videos that will appeal to your students. By doing so, nurture feelings of joy, love and thankfulness.
- Sing with them the songs of Christmas. Emphasize those that are Christ-centered.
- How about having a birthday cake for Jesus during the Christmas season? How about singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. Then give Jesus a birthday present as a group by doing something extra special for others. Make cookies and deliver them to homebound members. Take canned foods or personal care items to a rescue mission.
- Keep Santa Claus in perspective. If the issue arises (and young children may raise it), explain that Santa legends are based on the real Christian leader Nicholas (Saint Nicholas), who loved God and gave generously to the poor. When a child wants to talk about Santa Claus, listen attentively. Then turn the discussion to Jesus and his birth.
- You might want to print out a related GCI.org article (online at https://www.gci.org/christmas/teach) and give it to the parents of the children you are serving in your childrens ministry.
PS: If you as a childrens minister have some ideas for conducting Christmas-themed childrens ministry programs and classes, feel free to share them in the comments box below. For some free resources you might find helpful, check out these websites: