Christmas planned

Let’s get planning for our children’s Christmas in church!

Christmas Planned

Did the arrival of the John Lewis Christmas advert make you “Bah-Humbug” or fill you with anticipation? Did the sight of a Christmas tree in mid-November make you sigh or cheer?

However you answered these questions, the time has certainly come for the Children’s Ministry team to plan for Christmas in the local church. Many families around the world are more willing to come to church at Christmas than at any other time of year. This is the time for every Children’s Ministry team to step up and proclaim Christ. And if you don’t have a Children’s Ministry team? Then now is the time to create one! Perhaps that team will be so encouraged by the experience of ministering to families at Christmas that they will want to continue into the New Year.

Here are five areas to consider as your plan your Christmas activities. Few churches will want to tackle all five, but maybe your church, with your help, could choose to prioritise one or more of them.

1. School assemblies. At Christmas, schools are at their most receptive to having someone from a local church come and speak about Jesus. We find that it works best if a parent or a teacher approaches the school on the church’s behalf. Schools welcome a well-prepared assembly, enthusiastically delivered, which engages the children with the simple Christmas message of joy for all people. Let our assembly plans take away a large part of the preparation for you. Click here

2. Toddlers’ carol service (sometimes called a “pram service”). Christmas is a time when parents will bring even their youngest children to church. Keep it short – half an hour is long enough. Invite parents to bring children in costumes. (Imagine what Superman or an Ice Princess might have thought of the Nativity!) This might be an event to have during the week- some parents will take a day off work for it. Fill it with the usual songs: Away in a manger, Silent Night, Twinkle Twinkle Christmas star. Have short prayers led by some older children. Include a 5 minute engaging talk, packed full of visuals, props and action. Take a look at ours if you need some help.

3. All-age carol service. Often visiting parents prefer a church service when their children stay with them for the whole time: It takes a lot of trust to leave your child with a stranger in another room. Plan a 45 minute service that is fast-paced and carefully-prepared. Start and finish with a well-known Christmas carol to reassure nervous parents that this won’t be a weird experience. Include a few children’s songs: our favourite is, “Happy, happy Day” from Colin Buchanan’s “King of Christmas“cd. Have a family lead the prayers; it’s great to model Mum, Dad and little ones praying (however nervous they may feel). Have a Bible reading with some illustrations on a screen, or use an animation like this one. A well-practised all-age talk can genuinely speak to all ages, including adults. Look at ours for some ideas.

4. Christingle service. Many churches find this to be their most popular service of the year. There is nothing so seasonal, life-affirming and slightly terrifying than a procession of children with lit Christingles! With the right leaders, a good risk assessment, a thorough briefing and careful planning, there is no reason why this can’t happen safely. We give our younger children glo-sticks instead of candles and we ask our older children to look after our younger ones. Use a talk like this to give the complete saving message of Christmas using the simple Christingle.

5. Christmas Day all-age service. This might be standing room only in future years, if word gets out that your church’s Christmas Day service is full of happy children, engaging content and relaxed parents. As for an all-age carol service, you’ll need a mixture of children’s songs and carols, prayers and readings done by families and an all-age talk. You might invite some children onto the stage near the start of the service with their presents, as an introduction to the greatest Christmas Present ever – the birth of Jesus.

Was Paul thinking of Christmas when he wrote, “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity”? (Colossians 4: 5) Make the most of the opportunity this Christmas, as most families will accept an invitation to a Christmas service appropriate for the age of their children.