As parents, Christmas makes us think a little more about our responsibility to raise our kids to know and follow our great God. We want to be intentional in making sure our kiddos know that Jesus is the central character of Christmas. We want to establish family traditions that point to the Christ entering the world. Traditions that our kids will look fondly back on as they get older and begin their own families.
But, as much as families in our congregations desire to be intentional about this, many just don’t know exactly where to start. And they’re looking to us for some ideas.
So, what can you do to partner with and equip the families of your congregation?
One of the things I love to help parents with is developing the habit of reading and discussing Scripture with their kiddos. While this is a great habit at any time of the year, families have a special openness to this during the Christmas season. Memories of advent calendar readings, and the desire to breath Christ into a season full of commercialism, creates an urgency for many parents to be intentional about sharing the story of Christ’s birth with their kids.
How can we partner with and equip parents in this endeavor? Consider writing and distributing an Advent Devotional for families. Something short, that will take families about 10 minutes to go through. Nothing that will push a busy family over the edge – maybe start by writing 2-3 family devotional experiences each week. And, nothing so complicated that it will make you break out in a cold sweat at the thought of writing a devotional!
I like to start by prayerfully planning out the Scripture passages for the 4 weeks of Advent devotionals. What’s the story you want to tell by the end of the 4 weeks? Are there passages that your church or denomination is highlighting that you could partner with? Are there passages you’re covering with the kids that they could dig deeper into?
Then, for each passage, ask about 3 open-ended, discussion-starting questions. Rather than focusing on trivia, names, or dates, get kids thinking and wondering about God. If you were one of the shepherds, how would you react to the appearance of angels? Why do you think God chose to announce the birth of Jesus to a bunch of shepherds? Who do you think God would announce the birth to today?
A little bit of creative design work, and you’ve got it! Promote the opportunity to keep Christ central to Christmas and create family traditions in advance. Distribute a paper copy to families on Sunday and/or make it available electronically through email or your church website. Encourage kids & parents on Sundays and through social media throughout the season.
You’ve done it! Now, pray. Let the Holy Spirit take over the process of growing families closer together, and closer to Him, through the reading and meditation of the Word during this Christmas season.