Prepared for Christmas?
That question may fill you with a sense of dread. It reminds me of Christmas cards yet to be addressed, favorite Christmas treats yet to be made, gifts to be wrapped.
However, what about the children to whom you minister? Will they be prepared for Christmas this year? I’m not talking about being prepared for the cultural events of the season, but rather prepared for the coming of the Christ child. Here are some things you can do to prepare their hearts for this Christmas season.
1) Start early. Preparing children to celebrate Christ’s birth should begin long before Christmas day. That’s an important reason we as Christians observe the Advent season. Observing Advent allows us to start early preparing our hearts for the Christ child’s coming. This year the advent season begins each year four Sundays before Christmas.
2) Stay focused. As a children’s minister, what is your top priority during this Christmas season? Is it to fill the calendar full of exciting activities or to help children fully experience Christ, the Son of God, coming to earth as a baby? Each lesson, each worship time, each program or activity should lead the children to the manger where the Christ child lays.
3) Let the children come. Allow the children to experience all that Christmas truly is–a time of discovery, a time of worship, a time of giving, a time of service. Everything that is done during this Christmas season should invite the children to-
Come and behold Him
Born the king of angels
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ, the Lord.
Ideas You Can Use!
Christmas: A Time of Discovery…Find the Miracle
Preparation: Study the passages of Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 1:18-15; Matthew 2:1-12 so that you can tell the story accurately and vividly in your own words.
Collect six Christmas gift bags, stockings, or other Christmas containers. Number the containers 1 through 6. Place a symbol of one of the miracles in each of the six containers and hide them throughout the room.
- The Miracle of the Angel’s Visit – – Angel figurine
- The Miracle of Mary Expecting A Baby – – Baby bootie or rattle
- The Miracle of Joseph’s Dream – – Small pillow
- The Miracle of the Angel Choir – – Musical note
- The Miracle of the Star – – Star
- The Miracle of God’s Love for Me – – Heart shape
Print the word MIRACLE on the chalkboard or a poster.
Presentation: Introduce the Christmas story by showing the word “miracle.” What is a miracle? Let the children share their thoughts and guide them to a conclusion that “a miracle is something only God can do.”
Today I am going to tell you a story that is filled with awesome miracles that only God could do. As you listen to the story I want you to find the MIRACLES that God did when His Son, Jesus was born. As you tell the story emphasize these miraculous events surrounding Christ’s birth.
After concluding the story with the visit of the wise men, tell the children that the miracles of the Christmas story are hidden around the room. Ask the children to search for the miracle. Or, if the group is large, send six children to find the hidden miracles.
When they return, let them discuss each container starting with #1. Briefly discuss the miracle of each one. After the container numbered 5 is opened, remind the children that there is still one more miracle-the greatest miracle of all. Ask the children if they can discover the greatest miracle as you read John 3:16 with them. Then have a child open container #6.
The greatest miracle of the Christmas story is that God loves you so much that He sent His Son Jesus to be born as a baby. God’s only Son became human just like you and me so that He could show us how much God loves us.
You might then present the Gospel and invite the children to receive Jesus as Savior.
Christmas: A Time to Worship…No Room
Preparation: Make a sign that says, “No Room.” Provide markers and blank signs for each child.
Presentation: Have you ever passed a hotel or inn and seen a sign that says, “No Vacancy”? Why would the owner put out a “No Vacancy” sign? What does it mean?
Tell the story of Mary and Joseph’s search in Bethlehem for a place to stay. At every place Joseph asked, he was turned away. There was no room for them. (Show sign, “No Room.”) Finally an innkeeper allowed them to stay in the barn with the animals. There baby Jesus was born.
If you had been there that night would you have made room for Mary and Joseph and the baby that was soon to be born? I’m sure you would say “yes.” But are you making room for Jesus today? Are you including Him in your life or is your life too crowded with other things? Today Jesus wants you to make room in your life for Him.
Ask the children to think about the place Jesus has in their lives. Play worshipful music as they meditate. When the children are finished praying, give each one a sign and markers. Ask them to make signs that will let Jesus know that He is welcome in their lives.
Let them place their signs along the wall, then invite them to take a prayer walk around the room, reading each sign and praying that the person who created it will make room in his life for Jesus.
Christmas: A Time to Serve
Christmas provides a great opportunity for the children to serve others. Here are a few suggestions:
Read the Christmas Story. Make a recording of individual children reading the verses of the Christmas story found in Luke. The children might also sing familiar Christmas carols. Make a copy of the recording for each family of the congregation. As an additional opportunity to serve, ask several of the computer literate children to create and print the label for the cassette tape.
Sign It. This year add new excitement to caroling by teaching the children simple sign language for several of the carols. Allow them to carol at the homes of elderly or ill members of the congregation.
Take Your Children’s Nativity Play on the Road. A simple nativity play can be found online or you can simply narrate the Christmas story while the children act it out. There are many different groups that would enjoy the children’s presentation–preschools, convalescent homes, hospitals, abused women shelters, and more. As the children leave, provide small Christmas favors and/or Christmas gospel tracts for them to share with their audience.
Christmas: A Time to Give…Christmas Lights
These candle holders could be made by the children prior to the Christmas season and then used to decorate the adult sanctuary, the church foyer, or children’s worship area. Or, they could be made and given as a gift to a special family member, friend, or children’s ministry volunteer.
You will need: Old baby food jars (cleaned), scissors, Red & Green tissue paper, Liquid Starch, Small Tea Candles, Glitter, Ribbon, Lace (optional), Glue.
Step #1: Cut the tissue paper into small squares.
Step #2: Dip the squares in a small bowl of liquid starch and apply to the outside of the jar, slightly overlapping the squares.
For extra decoration:
Sprinkle glitter on the jar when the tissue paper is still wet.
Glue ribbon or lace around the base of the jar.
When completely dry, attach some small gold stars (you might need a dab of glue).
Step #3: Leave to dry completely, then put a tea candle in the jar. (You can secure it to the bottom with a little dab of melted wax if you need to.) When the candle is lit, light will show through the colored tissue paper.
Why We Celebrate Christmas featuring Jesus Tree Decorations. Distributed by Jesus Tree Decoration Company, 1295 Shaw Avenue, P.M.B. #329, Clovis, CA 93612. Website address: jesustreedecorations.com Cost: $12.95 plus shipping and handling.
This product contains text explaining Jesus’ birth and also includes 14 decorations to be colored, cut out and hung on the Christmas tree. While the text is much too difficult for children, the book will serve as a guide for developing the children’s understanding of who Jesus is based upon the Old Testament as well as the New. Because this product can be downloaded and printed out for personal or local church use, it could be given to each church family at the beginning of the Christmas season as a starting point for family devotions.
Visit the Web! There are a wealth of websites related to Christmas. At these sites you will find Christmas traditions from around the world, Advent calendars, nativity plays, stories and poems, music, and gifts and crafts the children can make.
Originally printed as the Volume 5, Issue 12 of the CM Newsletter, December 2001, Contributing Editor: Kathy Creasy