Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas for Families

Family ministry, children's ministry, Christmas!! How do they work together? As a Children and Family leader I have been trying to figure out the right mix for years. I have come to the conclusion that there is no ONE right mix. It takes knowing the culture of your families and the design of your church, blend that with what the economy is doing and sprinkle with a little hectic scheduling and you may find the formula.

I have personally come to learn that families (at least ours) want 3 things for Christmas.

1. To make memories with their kids

  • They don't want everyone separated out, if they all have to be there, they want to be together
  • Memories that can allow parents a moment to disciple their kids and teach them Christmas
2. They don't want another thing to go to
  • In the busiest time of year, there are already to few days to make it all happen. So while I love the idea of a potluck and ornament making day, my families just don't have room.
3. They want relevant ways to make Christmas about Jesus for their kids 
  • Parents are our best teachers. Let's equip them to do the job right!
So after processing the above ideas I decided to step back a little. We kept our Parents Night Out, a night that parents can shop without the kids and the kids have a great time with us. This happens by tradition on the first Friday each December. 

After that, parents are encouraged to use the advent guide to celebrate at home with their families. This alone is an awesome way to celebrate Christmas all month. But in addition to that, in the midst of shopping and decorating, life application opportunities arise. Parents are awesome at leading their kids in this way, sometimes they just need an idea. 

For the month of December we simply focus each week on a different thing that shares the true Christmas spirit. There are no sign ups, no meetings, and no time commitments. The entire family can participate and parents lead.

Week 1 we focused on compassion. While the stable and manger weren't optimal (or at least we see it that way) they were a gift, a man giving what he had out of compassion. Families were simply encouraged to pack up extra blankets and coats as the winter weather set in and hand them out as they were in town and see the need. (We are in California, so cold weather sets in early December) My kids still love to do this at the age of 11 and 17. 

Week 2 I am calling "random", showing love to complete strangers is something we are called to do. But we are also called to love our neighbors. Our children see us come and go every day, and in most neighborhoods we don't even know who we live around. We are encouraging families to do a random act of kindness in their neighborhood. Bake a treat, take candy canes, or even hand out Christmas cards.  Personally, we sock our neighbors. It's a stocking that gets filled with treats and we try to get it passed to as many homes as possible before Christmas. 

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