Although Christmas is never mentioned or celebrated in the Bible, it is understandable why many children’s ministries choose to incorporate it in their lessons and activities. Unfortunately though, some of the things that are taught or done do more to confuse kids than help them learn what God wants them to know. In fact, some of our mistakes can be used later to drive a wedge between our young people and God.
So what are some things to bear in mind as you think about Christmas and children’s ministry?
- Christmas is not a holiday created by God. In fact, God didn’t create any new holidays in the New Testament. The Bible doesn’t say you can’t celebrate holidays, but it does say you can’t really force them on others. (Colossians 2:16, Romans 14:5-6) Be respectful if some of your students’ families have chosen to celebrate Christmas as something other than the birth of Jesus.
- Jesus was probably not born on Christmas Day. Or in December. These types of errors can trip up students as they get older. When you teach popular misinformation about the birth of Jesus, you give Satan a foothold in the future to slip doubts into the minds of your students. Eventually they will learn Jesus wasn’t born on Christmas or that there were probably more than three wise men. They will then begin to wonder what other “lies” they have been taught at church. When in doubt, be very faithful to the scriptures. Don’t add facts that aren’t there. (Another example? The shepherds and magi were not there at the same time.)
- Be careful about mixing the secular and the spiritual. Historically, we have all been a bit lazy about this. Which means children can get Santa and the birth of Jesus mixed up in all sorts of not great or accurate ways. Be very clear that the birth of Jesus was a real event. You don’t have to expose Santa, but do try to make it clear Santa is not in the Bible and has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus.
- Teach the birth of Jesus at other times of the year. Some experts believe Jesus was born in the Fall, while others believe it was in the Spring. There is even some recent evidence that December may be more correct than originally thought. Regardless, God didn’t think when Jesus was born was important enough for us to know. Your students need to hear the story of the birth of Jesus at other times of the year, too.
- Remember, the real Good News is the death and resurrection of Jesus. Granted, he couldn’t have done those things without being born, but don’t get so focused on the birth of Jesus you forget to teach about his death. And what the death and resurrection of Jesus calls us to do.
Ultimately, how you handle Christmas will probably be decided in part by your congregation. Just make sure in whatever role you play, you are helping your students get the accurate information they need to grow spiritually in the process.