Bringing the Nativity to Life at Your Children’s Ministry
Getting little ones involved in the Christmas cheer is easy. There is endless excitement, from decorating the tree to seeing the beautiful streetlights, and kids are more than enthralled with the idea of Santa and his elves. But teaching the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of Christ isn’t always so simple.
Bring your nativity for kids to life and help the youngsters of your church build a deep and lasting connection with our Lord. Here are nine creative ways to teach the Christmas story at your kids’ ministry, helping the children of your church envision the nativity as if they were there themselves.
1. Read the Story Together
Lay the groundwork for the Christmas story in the weeks leading up to Christmas so the kids in your community have a deep understanding of the nativity events before Christmas Day. Reading the Christmas story together will help the gravity of the birth of Jesus feel obvious – like second nature – so it stays with them for life. Remember that you will need to read the Christmas nativity story again and again, as some kids will only come to church for Christmas.
2. Interview a ‘Mary’
If there is a heavily pregnant person in your church willing to participate — perfect. Ask them to attend one of your kids’ ministry sessions and answer questions as if she were Mary. This activity will help the children imagine what Mary might have been like while shining a light on circumstantial issues faced by Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. Ask them: can you imagine crossing the country for four days on a camel while carrying a child?
3. Visit a Petting Zoo
As the Nativity story is full of animals, any chance to get up close and personal with them will add a touch of reality when teaching the Jesus birth story for preschoolers. Let them stroke baby lambs, feed humble donkeys, and witness powerful oxen, and the next time you read the story those creatures will come to life. If anyone at your church has farmyard animals, they will likely be more than happy to help out with teaching nativity for kids.
4. Recreate the Nativity
One of the most creative ways to teach the Christmas story is by getting the students at your church to act it out themselves. Make this show more complex if you have older kids in your ministry by giving them a script to learn and detailed roles. Or keep it simple when recreating the birth of Jesus for preschoolers and let them dress up as animals to make the Christmas story fun.
5. Go Stargazing
A significant part of the Nativity story for kids is the role of the Star of Bethlehem. If parents allow it, take your little learners out once the sun has set to view the night sky for themselves. Ask them to place themselves in the shoes of the Three Wise Men — can they imagine the faith the Magi must have had to trust one of these stars and follow it for days?
6. Show Him in Light
Host a Christingle service at your church to represent Christ using an orange, candles, ribbon, and sweets. The orange represents the world, the red ribbon is the blood of Christ, the four sweets (stuck into the orange with cocktail sticks) are God’s gifts, and the candle pushed into the center is Christ. Light the candles to represent the hope and light that Jesus brings us all.
7. Advent Nativity at Home
Creating a nativity-themed advent calendar is easier at home, as kids aren’t in church daily. Choose a nativity set comprising 25 pieces, and let your children add a new piece to the scene each day, with Jesus arriving on December 25th. This will add a touch of excitement as they can participate and watch the crowds grow for our Savior.
8. Host a Sleep Out
Plan a sleep out in a church hall so they can experience the feeling of sleeping in an uncomfortable bed in a stable for themselves. It may be possible to camp outside, but if the weather is too cold, the experience can be just as fun from inside your church. Let the youngsters watch a movie on a projector, drink hot chocolates, and enjoy a big sleepover while giving parents a night off amid the Christmas chaos. Play Christmas games and read Christmas stories together.
9. Meet a Newborn Baby
Help them imagine how sweet and innocent baby Jesus was by letting them meet a newborn baby from your congregation. This isn’t always possible (for obvious reasons), but it is a wonderful idea if someone in your community has recently had a baby. Many people would be honored to play a part in teaching youngsters the power of the nativity story, and bringing it to life with the help of their child.
Making a nativity scene for kids is simple — just teach them about everyone who was present in a way that makes them relatable and brings them to life. Do this through your children’s nativity recreation by getting your Wise Men to deliver gold, frankincense, and myrrh to baby Jesus, and make several inn-keepers turn them away as they search for a place to stay. Details like these transform the Nativity scene into a lively and engaging children’s Christmas story they will be excited to participate in for years to come.