I crossed the finish line. The Christmas finish line that is. I’ve been sprinting full speed ahead for the past 30 days. And yes, it’s a sprint and not a marathon that I’ve been running this Christmas season. That’s what life as a church staff member feels like during Christmas. You are going and going and going from one activity to the next. It’s not bad, though. I really enjoy it, especially since I’m the Children’s Director and get to plan fun activities for kids and their families.
I got ready to run this sprint in November. I laced up my Nikes, got in the starting blocks, got focused, then listened till I heard that sound all sprinters wait to hear…the starting gun. It fired off for me on November 23. That’s when Advent/Christmas festivities began for me at my church. In the Methodist Church we kick off the season of Advent with a Hanging of the Greens service. This is a service which helps prepare us for Christ’s coming into the world. It’s also a service where we decorate the church for Christmas. We don’t decorate the whole church during that service. A lot of decorating is already done before the service begins. During this service we hang greenery, cedar, ivy, holly, wreaths, Chrismon ornaments, and we place the Nativity on the altar. Everyone is involved, including the children. This year the kids sang Away in a Manger. And let me tell you it was hard practicing in the weeks beforehand because they don’t like to sing. But, they did an awesome job!
My next activity was at our KidVenture program on Sunday nights. This year I am writing the curriculum for this program. I am loving writing it! However, this does take a little more time, especially when you have to write 4 different lessons each week (3’s/Pre-K, K/1st, 2nd/3rd, 4th/5th). We only meet one Sunday night in December due to other things going on, so our focus this night was on the whole story of the birth of Jesus. The classes did different activities centered around this story such as Find the Nativity, Our Gifts to Jesus, and activities that go with our memory verse like Pass the Gift and Memory Verse Trees. Oh, and it was also Wrapping Paper Night and we all came decked out in wrapping paper. We had a fun night at KidVenture!
Next up was our annual family event. This year we decided to do a Birthday Party for Jesus. The hard part about this year’s event was that I was not going to be there. My cousin was getting married that weekend in New Orleans so I went to spend the weekend celebrating her marriage. All of you who are Children’s Ministers know that it’s harder to plan events when you aren’t going to be there! Lots of details to plan and then to pass along all the info to volunteers who will be running the event. My 3 friends who helped me out this year did an excellent job! I so appreciate their help so that I could be away with family.
Our Birthday Party for Jesus this year was fun for the whole family! We began with families gathering in our Sanctuary singing Christmas songs and then brought in the cake to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. After that, families could venture throughout the activities as they pleased. We had food, games, and crafts for the kids. We incorporated several Christmas Minute-To-Win-It games, Pin Baby Jesus in the Manger, a Jesus Birthday ornament, and Christmas card making to Nursing Home residents. My favorite had to be the Family Nativity Photo Booth. I decorated a wall in one of our rooms with a stable backdrop. Families then were able to come to our photo booth, pick out a Nativity costume, and get their picture made. Our photographer collected email addresses and emailed them to the families after the event was over. I hate to have missed it, but I know it was a fun event for families that came.
For Christmas Eve services, our church always does a family-friendly service. For the past 2 years the children have dressed as different parts of the Nativity story and helped share the story during the service. This year we decided to do something different. The kids came dressed in their pajamas. At the end of the service, I invited the kids to the front and we all sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. I then brought out a big box wrapped in Christmas paper. I had one of the kids unwrap the present. Inside were glow sticks which they gave out to each person in the congregation and we ended by breaking the glow sticks and singing Silent Night. However, that activity didn’t go quite like I thought it would. As soon as the boy unwrapped the gift, I had kids swarming all around me grabbing into the box and pulling out handfuls of glow sticks!! It was chaotic to say the least! I was thankful when a friend came up to help me pull away the box so we could hand the glow sticks to each child instead of them running over the other kids to get to the box. It was crazy! Who knew a box of glow sticks would excite the kids so much! The kids got all the glow sticks passed out and everything turned out beautiful as we dimmed the lights and sang Silent Night. Such a peaceful moment as we remembered the birth of our Lord and Savior.
I must also mention that all throughout November and December my sprint included leading Kidz Church every Sunday morning. I lead the large group worship time and then our volunteers do small group activities with each age group. Love telling the different parts of the birth of Jesus each week!
Even though I have finished all my activities with the kids and crossed the Christmas finish line, the church still celebrates! We begin the season with Advent as we prepare for Christ’s birth. After Christmas Day, we celebrate Christmas for 12 days ending with Epiphany, which is about the coming of the wise men. The church always celebrates Epiphany the Sunday before it (which this year is January 4th).
This is just my sprint I do in the church. I do have a family and it’s filled with many activities, too. So many things to do during the Christmas season with church and family and I cherish every moment. I love the sprint I do every year in Advent/Christmas in the church. I love telling children about the birth of Jesus. I love seeing their faces light up as we celebrate Him. I love watching as my own 2 children really understand the true meaning of Christmas. It warms my heart to watch them grow in their faith. Nothing better as a parent than to see your own children give their lives to Jesus. And there’s nothing better as a Children’s Minister than to watch the kids in your church give their lives to Jesus and be excited about celebrating his birth.
The Christmas sprint is over, I’m a little tired, but this is not the end. My job as a Children’s Minster or a parent is never over. I must keep on teaching, keep on leading, keep on sharing, keep on telling that Jesus Christ is Lord!
What was your favorite activity you did this Advent/Christmas season with the kids in your church?