Leading Children and Families to the Manger This Christmas

By Hannah Morris

It is the most wonderful time of year to spend time celebrating our Savior’s birth, but how do you help children and families not to get lost in the over-commercialization of Christmas? It is important to be sure that you and your ministry are helping children and families reflect on the birth of Jesus. Doing this is a no-brainer that should be at the foundation of your December teaching and curriculum, and it should also be in the form of resources to help parents reiterate Christ’s birth at home. At Prestonwood we believe that what is taught at church should also be taught at home, and together, you can help your children develop an authentic faith.

Here are a few ways to be sure that the children who attend your church are learning about the birth of Jesus and retaining it:

  1. Make It Creative

There is a school of thought that says if you get creative, you sacrifice the depth and authority of Scripture. I am here to tell you that is not the case, and you can be creative while being scripturally sound. Every year at Prestonwood, we think and pray through what our theme for Christmas will be and what we want children to experience when they are here. We want the theme to be a hook to get students into our building on the weekends. We want students to use all of their senses and learning styles. For example, our theme this year is Unexpected. Each week something unexpected will happen while we teach students about an expected Savior. The décor and theme are tropical, or unexpected—opposite of what you would expect for Christmas. On the Sunday before Christmas, we will change it all to be very traditional as we tell about the birth of Jesus. Being creative requires you to think outside the box while engaging students.

  1. Make It Memorable

When kids leave your church on the weekend, you want to make sure they remember what happened. Making it memorable doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can be a game or activity that helped them understand the bottom line from that day. It can be a simple craft they take home to help tell their parents what they learned. Make learning God’s Word fun and exciting so they desire to dive deeper into Scripture. I can remember a Sunday School lesson from when I was a child about Ruth because the teacher baked a fresh loaf of bread and let us eat some. Simple things that activate different senses in a child will help them remember what was taught.

  1. Make It Applicable

Have an application each week so students can apply what was taught. In one of our lessons, we will look at how John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus, and students will make an invitation to later invite a friend to our Christmas Eve services. Giving kids an action item helps them understand Scripture better and retain what they learn.

We often tell parents that they are the primary disciplers of their children, but we fail to set them up for success by giving them practical tools they need for discipling their children.

Here are a few ways to ensure that families are discussing the birth of Jesus at home:

  1. Advent Calendar

Provide a simple advent calendar with activities for families to do together each day leading up to Christmas to bring the focus to the birth of the Savior. Many different Christian publishers provide these for churches, and they can be downloaded and reproduced. It is a great idea to send the digital copy via text, e-mail, or social media so families can access it from anywhere. These provide excitement for the kids leading up to Christmas while keeping the birth of Christ as the focus.

You can follow along with Prestonwood Baptist Church’s Advent Calendar by Pastor Jack Graham here – www.prestonwood.org/advent.

  1. Resources 

Provide a list of resources such as advent studies to do together as a family, storybooks that tell the Christmas story, or interactive nativity sets. Parents are always looking for tools with which to celebrate Christmas. Having a list of recommended resources is a major tool for families.

  1. Ideas

Utilize your avenues of communication such as social media, texting, or e-mail to provide ideas that are meaningful ways to celebrate Christmas. For example, gather your family on Christmas morning to read the Christmas story together and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus before opening presents. Simple things like this are helpful to new families or families looking to start new Christmas traditions.

I pray that the things presented in this article are helpful to you as you seek to teach children and families the true meaning of Christmas this season. Please make these strategies and ideas fit your ministry context. I pray that you always seek the Lord and His leading in how to minister to your children and families.

Hannah Morris serves as Associate Minister to Children at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.