Were you in the kids’ choir at church growing up? I was, and I LOVED it. I even stayed on as an assistant youth director after I aged out of the program in middle school, and it influenced my extracurricular activities in high school. The kids choir was one of my favorite things about church, and the yearly Christmas production was always something I looked forward to.
That’s why I surprised myself as a children’s pastor when I declined requests to put on a children’s Christmas production each year. Maybe it was because I knew the amount of time and energy that goes into the programs and didn’t feel like I could add that to my plate. Maybe it was because we were a mobile church at the time, and I couldn’t logistically see how it would work. Maybe I just knew I didn’t have the necessary skills to lead something like that and couldn’t find anyone who did (and was willing).
Since then, I’ve seen conversations take place in children’s ministry groups online about the value of a children’s Christmas production and the many logistics of putting one on. Should the responsibility fall to the children’s pastor or the worship director (or someone else)? Should practices take place during Sunday morning ministry time or outside of Sunday mornings? How much commitment can you ask (and expect) from families during an already-busy time of year?
Here are a few reasons to host (and not to host) a children’s Christmas program at your church:
Why you should:
- Provides opportunities for kids to use their God-given talents and abilities on stage and can prepare them for leading on stage in the future
- Gives an easy Christmas event for families (and the whole church) to attend
- Often allows you to share the Christmas story in a unique way
- Can be a great way to involve and invite the community
- Provides seasonal volunteer opportunities (that potentially lead to year-round volunteers)
Why you shouldn’t:
- Takes a lot of work (for both leaders and kids) and you may not have the bandwidth (that’s the situation I was in) – that’s totally OK!
- Busy schedules can hinder practice times and families don’t need one more commitment on their calendar
- Budget money spent on the production could be spent elsewhere
- Location space and availability
- Your families aren’t interested – if no one is asking about it, focus your energies on something else
You know your church culture better than anyone else, and you get to decide if a children’s Christmas production is a worthwhile venture for the vision and mission you have set out for your ministry.
And if you’re looking for a happy medium between a full-fledged production and nothing at all, here are 3 creative ways to include elements of a children’s Christmas production without adding something else to the calendar:
- Wrap it into your Sunday morning experience. From rehearsals to the production itself, consider utilizing time on Sunday mornings for the children’s Christmas production. While I wouldn’t recommend making the ENTIRE Sunday morning a rehearsal (you want to be mindful of visitors + kids who don’t want to participate in the program), you can take 20-30 minutes each week to review songs and practice any lines. You’ll still need a final dress rehearsal the day before the performance, but a short production could be a great addition to the adult or a family Advent service as well.
- Combine it with another event. Our church combined our children’s Christmas choir with a live nativity event last year, and it worked great! The kids got to perform their songs and it was a well-attended community event for the whole family. So whether it’s a Christmas dinner, a Christmas party, or some other Christmas event, consider ways you could incorporate a children’s Christmas play or children’s Christmas choir into the schedule for the event.
- Make it a video. When all else fails, convert a live performance into a video! You can record kids on Sunday mornings or even ask parents to send in videos of their kids reciting lines from the script or the Christmas story. You can film the kids singing at any time. You can piece together snippets of kids answering Christmas questions or sharing their favorite parts of the Easter story. And bonus points: get the kids involved in the filming and production of the video too! I bet you’d be surprised at their video-editing skills. Creating a video also allows you to share the final showing in a variety of ways and for years to come!
Looking for simple but impactful Christmas productions that work for a variety of church sizes? Check these out:
What about you? Do you host a children’s Christmas production each year?
[…] 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.) […]