Years ago I had my five year old in the church service with me. It was about this time of year. Thanksgiving was done. People’s thoughts and conversations had turned towards Christmas. My five year old was acting very much like a five year old. A sweet older man in the church stopped and reminded her that she had to be good because Santa was watching her. Later in the morning, she was asked by other church members what she was going to ask Santa to bring her. Other mamas were talking about how to find the toys that were in demand.
None of these were necessarily bad things. I’m not anti-Santa. I’m not anti-Christmas presents. But I did notice that every conversation my child was engaged in about Christmas at church was focused on everything we say should not be the most important parts of Christmas. These people were awesome, God-loving people, but even in the church our natural bent is not to truly and intentionally focus the Christmas season around Christ.
It’s hard, right? December gets so busy with holiday activities, school concerts, teacher presents, parties, church events, etc… that we get caught up in all the stuff. Next thing we know Christmas is here and we are scrambling to remember to read the Luke 2 narrative once with our kids.
I decided then that we needed to help equip families to have better Christmas conversations. Up to that point I had a philosophy that the Christmas season is crazy busy and the church did not need to pile onto families’ busy-ness. But, good gravy, we should be all about a holiday season that focuses on our Savior.
The key is our purpose and our strategy. Our purpose can’t be to just do a Christmas event to have a Christmas event on the calendar. Our purpose must be to create opportunities for families to focus on the gospel message of Christmas. These opportunities do not have to be events. We just need some kind of strategy for emphasizing the gospel during the busy season.
What are some things you can do?
- Advent – One of the ideas born from my conviction was Familyadvent.com. This site has become a tradition most years since. This year we are revisiting the theme from that very first year, “Who is Christmas All About?” Each day families can access a new devotion that includes scripture, discussion, and usually an online activity such as a game or video. The whole point is to give families an opportunity to spend five to ten minutes a day re-focusing on WHO Christmas is all about. There are many other great advent resources out there, including Truth in the Tinsel and Lifeway’s Family Advent Guide
- Family Experiences – Most churches have special Christmas events. Is there a way to take one of those and gear it specifically toward families and specifically challenging them to focus on the gospel? I have used scripts from Dale Hudson’s family experience resource.
- Family Service Opportunities – One of the most powerful ways to help families focus on more than the materialism is to give them unique and authentic ways to serve others. How can you mobilize your families to give and serve in meaningful ways. If you collect food, is there a way for families to help distribute?
- Playlists – Consider making playlists on Spotify, Amazon, or YouTube to share worshipful Christmas music.
- Regularly Scheduled Programming – What can you incorporate into the times that your families are already at church? Whether Wednesday nights or Sunday mornings, how can you adapt your normal plans to make a big deal about Jesus during the Christmas season?
I would love for you to share with our community how you help families focus on Christ during the holiday season. Please comment below or on our Facebook page.