**This is a guest post from Nick Diliberto from PreteenMinistry.net
The story of Christmas is a familiar one to preteens.This is especially true of kids who have grown up attending church. Knowing the story of Jesus’ birth is life changing, how do we make the Christmas message “stick” in their hearts and minds?
Here are some of my ideas, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
1. Make It Real
When sharing the Christmas message, talk about how Jesus’ birth and life impacts students’ lives in the here and now. The core message of Christmas & Jesus’ birth is summed up in the word “Immanuel” – God is with us. How many preteens have sung songs and heard that word repeated, but miss the meaning? God is with us means that we have access to a relationship with Jesus now. God is present here on earth. Because of Jesus, we can have a real relationship with the creator of the universe! Use Christmas as an opportunity to talk about what that looks like in the life of a preteen.
Preteens disengage when we “preach “ to them. They don’t want to sit for 20 minutes and here you communicate information. They learn best when you use a hands-on, experiential approach to learning. Here are some experiential, fun activities that work with a Christmas related lesson.
- Balloon Race: Give everyone a balloon and write their name on it. Have them stand in a straight line, shoulder to shoulder, on one side of a room. Invite everyone to blow up their balloon and then release them at the same time. The player’s balloon that lands closest to the opposite wall wins. The point — God is with us and within us. He is as close to us as our very breath. Like we breathed air into our balloons, God breathes His spirit into us.
- Shepherds, Angels, and You: Open your Bible to Luke 2:8. Read through the story of the shepherds and the angels. Divide your group into shepherds and angels and act it out!
Always think of ways to add fun, hands-on activities to help drive home the point. Preteens will be more engaged, making the message “stick”.
3. Reach Out
Preteens can get caught up in the consumerism of Christmas, which creates an “all about me” attitude. 4th-6th graders learn best by doing and jump at the chance to make a difference.. So, give them the opportunity to reach out to those in your community.
- Samuels’ Kids – An independent orphanage in Uganda that takes care of 25 abandoned children – http://samuelskids.org
- Give up a gift they get this Christmas and give it to a child in need.
- Volunteer at a local food shelter.
- Wrap gifts for free at Wal-Mart or the mall during the busy shopping season.
Allow preteens to be a part of the planning process and ask them for ideas of how to serve the community. The more they are involved in the planning, the more of an impact the experience will have on them.
Nick Diliberto is the creator of PreteenMinistry.net, which provides creative curriculum and resources for preteen ministry. He is also the preteen columnist for Children’s Ministry Magazine.