I’m excited to share some thoughts from Christie Thomas, author and one of our DKM Vendors, today! Here’s what she has to say about keeping Christ in Christmas at Home (without overwhelming families)…
It was the same every November.
The same woman in our church would strike up a conversation, which would inevitably lead to the question, “are you going to run a Christmas pageant this year?” I love a great Christmas pageant and was involved in many large-scale pageants and musicals as a child, but it never felt like the right fit for this church. The desire for a pageant seemed to come from a feeling of nostalgia, which, to me, isn’t a good enough reason to burn myself and our families out at Christmas. (Psst – check out a few reasons you should – and shouldn’t – host a Christmas pageant here.)
I did usually do something special for families at Christmas, just… not the traditional pageant. Some years I created take-home resources, other years I ran a big outreach, and some years I focused on making the Christmas Eve/Day services as welcoming as possible for kids.
Like me, you may find that the needs in your church vary from year to year, and families’ calendars are often pretty full come December anyway. So how to decide what to offer to help them keep Christ in Christmas at home without adding to their holiday overwhelm?
- Pray. It seems rather obvious, but make sure to invite God into the planning process! It can be easy to forget once we get the “ministry machine” moving and get excited about our planning. We can work ourselves to the bone to minister to kids and families at Christmas, but if our work is not soaked in prayer, it will be a shadow of what it could be with God.
- Consider what has the most impact in YOUR situation. Instead of letting the loudest voices dictate your priorities this Christmas, ask yourself one crucial question: What will have the most impact and make the most difference for the kids in my unique ministry? If most of your kids come without family to church, maybe your best option is a Christmas pageant or an outreach that allows them to invite their families to church for a gospel-soaked message. However, if most of the kids in your ministry come with their families, you might want to forego the big pageant in favor of equipping parents and grandparents to focus on Christ at home instead. Which reminds me…
- Keep any resources you offer to parents simple. When I first began to create parent resources, I made them way too complicated! Parents in my church complained that they took too long and required them to find resources. So, I simplified, and everyone’s been better off since then! Remember that each family in your ministry has a ton of things to do at Christmas, so when you offer resources, make sure they’re simple. A few ideas include:
- DAILY SIMPLICITY: Offer this beautiful set of Advent Bible readings that take only 5-7 minutes per day.
- WEEKLY SIMPLICITY: Send home a once-per-week Advent candle reading plan with 5 tea lights. (Free download from Christie Thomas here.)
- ONE-TIME SIMPLICITY: Create a family event centered around the idea of a birthday party for Jesus, or equip your families to run one at home.
- Make sure anything you send home is FUN! As you have likely already figured out, kids are way more likely to be engaged when something is fun! The bonus is that parents are more likely to actually use resources when their kids are interested and having fun too. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to send home cookies, candy, and a gift certificate for a bouncy house rental because obviously we still want our families to understand who Jesus is and why He came (and we don’t have unlimited budgets). But you can send home resources that have meat and are still engaging for kids. Find some of our favorite, fun, and simple Christmas resources for families here.
Above all, my prayer is that rather than listening to the loudest voices clamoring for attention this Christmas season, you’ll be able to hear God’s still, small voice giving you the perfect ideas for your unique situation.
Author Bio: Christie Thomas is a homeschool mom of 3 and former Children’s Ministries Director. She is the author of the new, Christ-centered devotional, Fruit Full: 100 Family Experiences for Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit, written over many late nights beside a cold cup of blueberry tea. She can be found online at Little Shoots, Deep Roots and snuggled up near the Christmas tree at home in Western Canada. Find all of Christie’s resources on Deeper KidMin here.