Children, even the most well-behaved ones, can be notoriously selfish sometimes. It seems like “mine” is one of the first words children learn, and that me-first mentality remains front and center throughout much of childhood. Sharing, generosity, and love aren’t hard-wired into these little ones – we have to teach them these Christian values.
The upcoming Christmas season is a perfect opportunity for adults to teach and model what it means to be a loving Christian. Children’s minister, Jeannie Troutman, and the hundreds of families at First Baptist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, use the spirit of the Christmas season to teach their children about the power of Christian outreach.
For the past four years, First Baptist Church has used CTA products to host a family event called Celebrate Christmas. This gathering takes place during the morning hours of the first Saturday in December.
“This event is a beautiful way to start the season,” says Jeannie. “It really sets a Christian tone before all of the Christmas activities get to crazy.”
All families in the church with a child between two-years-old and the sixth grade are invited to the free Celebrate Christmas event. Last year, nearly 300 people attended.
After the families start the day with a pancake breakfast, everyone moves into the sanctuary for an impromptu Christmas play. Jeannie pre-selects some of the older kids to play key parts, like Mary, Joseph, and the Wise Men. The other children then have the chance to choose which character they’d like to play—a star, Wise Man, shepherd, or angel. The children slip into costume and learn one or two basic lines as a group. Then, it’s show time!
When the play wraps up, the families are split into age groups for craft time. Jeannie always makes sure to pick good quality, keepsake crafts for each age range. Each child makes one item to take home and another to give away to one of the church’s home-bound members. The leaders make a special point to explain that these members are unable to come to church and need special encouragement.
“We do our best to teach the kids two of God’s most important commands: to love him and to love one another,” says Jeannie. “The home-bound members really enjoy getting Christmas crafts from these kids. They all say that it’s wonderful to be remembered like that.”
The Celebrate Christmas event finishes with a “Happy Birthday, Jesus” celebration, complete with birthday cake and singing. But, before everyone leaves for the day, each family is given two CTA gift bags. Jeannie packs each bag with CTA’s new Christmas book that year, an Ornament of Faith®, and candy. Although each family is given two bags, they are encouraged to use just one for their family and share the other bag with a family who doesn’t know about Jesus.
In less three hours, Jeannie and the other leaders at First Baptist Church are able to teach the children a multitude of lessons that extend far beyond the Christmas season. The love that God shows to us through Jesus is so precious! And that message is meant to be shared with everybody!
Editor’s Note: Do you have a special Christmas event planned for the children at your church? Visit us at www.ctainc.com for ideas and resources that can fit any type of Christmas celebration. On our free resources page you’ll even find TWO complete Christmas programs, one for early childhood and one for elementary school children—both free and downloadable! If you’d like to request a catalog or speak with a customer service representative, we encourage you to give us a call at 1-800-999-1874.
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