What should a kids' Christmas Eve worship service include? I'm planning our 7pm Christmas Eve service, and I'd appreciate your ideas.
it should just be geared solely at children.
my favorite one involved the children sitting up at the front, and doing all the readings, the responses, and lighting the candles. everyone who did any talking talked directly to them.
Hi AHyde. I am a Sunday School teacher at our church and our children perform the Christmas Eve service each year. We usually start with the two smaller classes doing poems or recitations. The older class usually does a light hearted play which will lead into the Christmas story. We do have a small sunday school as we are a rural church and this year the Christmas story will be narrated out of the bible by our oldest class and the younger classes will act it out as it is being read. We intertwine the traditional christmas carols throughout the program which are sung by the whole congregation. The program usually runs for about 1 hour. Our Christmas Eve service is designated for the children to hold their program and our usual formal service is held on Christmas day. Our sister church also holds a candlelight service later in the evening for those who wish to attend the traditional service on Christmas Eve. Hope this is of some help.
I wish that when I was a struggling teen, who had quit coming to church, other than special occassions, someone had actually shared, with the youth, that there was other than a literal interpetation.
I know some feel that Christmas, or other such high holy days may not be the time, but, if not then, when? So, I guess I would add, remember the teens who are there with their parents, little sisters/brothrs, and speak to them , too
Hi AHyde! I co-wrote & co-ordinated our children's Christmas pageant on Christmas Eve for 4 years before I finally burned out. We actually wrote a musical pageant, and I wrote more songs every year, as more and more kids wanted to participate - I tried to find a part for every child that wanted to do something in the pageant; I felt this was really important because this was our children's chance to offer their own ministry to the congregation.
It always went really well on the evening, & it was really beautiful to watch the children shine - I knew I was helping to create lifelong memories - but I was SO exhausted. And I'm just a mom - not staff or anything.
Christmas is such a busy time for everyone.....I had trouble getting all the kids at rehearsals, and then some of the parents would just dump their kids with me & take off for coffee during rehearsal, then people would take off right after the service without offering to help clean up, or even giving a word of thanks sometimes, and my family and I (& a few others) were stuck putting away all the costumes, and tidying up, etc.
Except for the kids, and a few lovely people, the whole thing was too much work for little thanks (you don't do it for the thanks, of course, but it really helps), and now I won't touch it with a ten foot pole. Our minister did it last year & refused to repeat the ordeal, and this year our music minister is taking it on, & I wish her luck.
Anyway.....a LONG story - but my advice would be to keep it SIMPLE, and try to get a group of people committed to helping out, so you don't end up exhausting yourself, and getting grumpy, the way I did!! All the best!!
Magic! It should sparkle, have surprises,
And I think that shared worship should not be aimed directly at children - it may be the only time adults get to hear the magic too. There are wonderful ways to blend both.
A simple walk-on pageant, where someone has paraphrased the story into flowing language, and the children are simply costumed and led on for their parts (non-speaking) can be sweet but not necessary - people need to arrive early and then figure out how to get kids back to their seats and so on.
A sermon broken into several parts and said plainly, or even to the children (many children's stories are sermons in disguise) split with carols & candles
Puppets or stuffed animals telling the story are wonderful, or a few well-chosen adults dressed up to tell the story connects people. Sing Away in a Manger, cause the kids know that one
Keep it to 45 min (it will take the hour) and end with Silent Night, cause everyone knows it too.
People won't hang around long usually, but maybe have some cider & cookies available and prepare to stay and chat for a half hour, but keep it quiet and magical.
Last time I was home for xmas Dad had a child and his or her parents share the readings- I thought that was nice! Dad used to have birthday cake for the baby jesus on xmas day-kind of fun! I would suggest decorating the church with things the children made themselves. choosing the readings from a good children's bible and make the service a mixture of familiar carols, children's readings and a really good interactive chidren's time instead of a sermon!
we have moved our family service to 4pm instead of our ususal 7 pm in hopes of making it more accessible to families. our theme is Baby Jesus' Birthday party and we are advertising it as such ... balloons, 'the story'(probably a dramtic presentation while the Scripture is being read) , a cake, loot bags, a clown (we have a woman in the cong'n who does Christian clowning and she is going to do a Bible magic trick), we serve communion and have table set up for the kids with breadsticks and juice for each of them. we sing all the favourite Christmas hymns/carols, it is chaotic and friendly and welcoming and we are excited about it!
My two bits of advice would be keep it short and keep it moving. There is a lot of energy that day and trying to sit still for extended periods of time is almost impossible. In my experience worship that is visual, interactive, and energetic works best with on Christmas Eve for children and youth (and many adults too!).
Ahyde maybe you could tell them the story how some of these stern disciples forbade the children to come to Jesus, and Jesus said "Suffer the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not." Kids love that story.
I've come to a more comfortable level of acceptance and am now even looking forward to Christmas Eve services. No matter how simple and pretty I tried to keep the service in the past, it felt like a zoo because people were so unaccustomed to worship and didn't get into it at all. So a new plan:
There'll be a family service at 7:30, and folks are invited to bring a piece or pieces from their home manger set. I don't even see myself in the pulpit at all, just telling the story bit by bit, inviting them to bring up their angels or sheep or shepherds as we go, and singing the carols in between parts of the story. Finish with Silent Night with all the candles lit--somehow, I'll get them to settle and be quieter for that part.
Then at 9:30, we'll have a Christmas Eve communion service, likely all adults, and it will be quieter, and more reflective. Pray for me...
I think the idea of having a family service in the late afternoon or early evening is good - then the children can unwind (hopefully) before going to bed
I used to do Jesus Birthday Party on Advent 4 for the children
Hope whatever you have planned is enjoyed by all - Blessings
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