25 Christmas Stories: How Does Your Sunday School Do Christmas?
Kevin D. Hendricks
In celebration we held a Christmas Contest asking what your church does at Christmas. What makes Christmas special at your Sunday School?
We got some great answers. We couldn’t share all of them, but there’s a taste of what different churches do at Christmas. Check it out for ideas for your own church. Certainly not every idea will fit well—some churches are more into candles while for others it’s glow sticks. But there are still a lot of creative and inspiring ideas.
1. Cookies & Carols: We have a 17-year tradition beginning with a Cookies, Cider & Coffee Reception (during the Sunday School hour) followed by Candlelight and Christmas Carols in the sanctuary. -Linda Rowan
2. Christ Candle: A child acolyte brings the light of Christ in from the back of the room and lights the Christ candle right at midnight, then lights all the congregation’s candles from that one. -Elizabeth Schindler
3. Drive Thru Nativity: A cast and crew of about 150 people tell the story of Jesus’ birth in 10 scenes. At the end of the drive thru, our guests are invited to stop by our pavilion for homemade cookies and coffee. -Paul Griffin
4. Soup Supper: One thing my church does that I love is serve a soup supper following the family-oriented Christmas Eve service. Five to eight church members each bring a pot of soup, so there is always a great variety of options. Frazzled families, whether first-time guests or long-time members with children in the pageant, sincerely appreciate not having to figure out what to do for dinner on Christmas Eve. Parents sit and savor their soup while kids run around burning off energy, even in their Christmas finery. In addition, the pastors and musicians who would have very little time before the next service to run out and grab food have an easy dinner option to sustain them between services. -Emily Allen
5. Arr, Matey: We are currently planning “A Pirate Christmas: What is Stealing Your Joy This Season?” We are working on stage design for a church plant (meeting at a school) that may or may not include a ship (but without being kitschy). -Mandy Flateland
6. Rapping Camels: We have a Christmas pageant every year that is written by a few of our members. The pageant is held during our contemporary Sunday service and includes all the elements of a worship service. It is always very creative: Last year we had rapping camels that performed with a professional Christian rapper. ¬Carol Castro
7. Midnight Communion: It begins at 11:30 on Christmas Eve. The lights are down low and soft music is playing in the background. The story of Jesus is told (his entire life), using verses of prophesy and the fulfillment of them in the Gospels. The service ends at midnight with prayer and communion, people coming up to take it as they’re ready. -Julie Snyder
8. Traditional Atmosphere: The stage is set with beautiful colored lights that dance on white cut-outs of pine trees. Hundreds of candles omit a homey glow reminding one of a Kincaid painting. A quartet is playing soft Christmas hymns as people come to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus. A light scent of cinnamon fills the worship center as they are greeted by our guest services staff. Outside in the foyer a small baby coos as “Mary and Joseph” comfort him. Families with children gather and pet the barn animals and stand in awe of the three wise men bringing gifts to their king. The air has erupted with song as people filter into the worship center. ¬- Crystal Knight
9. Christmas Is Not Your Birthday: Our pastor calls on Christians to reject self-centered, consumerist approaches to the holiday season and remember the true meaning of Christmas. Every year the church holds a “Christmas is Not Your Birthday” miracle offering during the Christmas season to raise funds for a project targeted by the United Methodist Committee on Relief. -Derma York
10. Multiple Events: Our parish Christmas time is extra special because because we offer different events to attend in additional to the traditional Christmas Mass. We offer an evening of Lessons & Carols in which various choir members gather together to give a musical story of the birth of Christ with scripture. Our Hispanic ministry offers an evening of Las Posadas with story, song and great Hispanic food and our religious education department offers a Christmas pageant Mass. -Pilar Dougall
11. Live Nativity: We have a live nativity at our small church the Saturday before Christmas complete with a petting zoo full of miniature animals from a member’s farm. -Cardelia Howell-Diamond
12. Christmas From the Beginning: Last year we created a full production entitled, “Christmas From the Beginning” It included three live narrators reading passages from Genesis to the NT, live musicians and a triple-wide video accompanying it… Creation, the fall of man, the covenant, the promise of a redeemer, and the arrival of the Savior. Powerful and humbling (and exhausting). Needless to say, this year is a candlelight service and strings. -Cate Eaton
13. Soloists & Candelight: My favorite is the tranquil 11 p.m. Christmas Eve service with simple soloists and candlelight. -Jane Andersen
14. Build Relationships: Last year was the first year we put on a huge Christmas production—I mean we did sets and music, jazzed up our foyer with a piano player and had waiters walking around with treats and drinks. This year we are doing the same, but the idea isn’t to just show people we are cool by adding our own modem twist on another Christmas classic, it’s about leaning into or vision of living differently. We want people to build relationships and invite people to come so that they can meet people and find a safe community. And make it fun! -Rachel Collins
15. Prophecy: We link the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament to their fulfillment in Jesus Christ’s birth and life. -Hilda Bishuti
16. Multi-Generational: What I love about our Christmas tradition is it is the one time of year we are truly a multi-generational church. So it makes me both happy and sad at the same time. I live in that promise and with that reminder to build up the church on earth. -Miranda Gray
17. Serving Diverse Groups: Our church has so many specials celebrations for the Christmas season. Starting with an Advent festival then moving on to the Norman, Oklahoma Philharmonic performing the Christmas Oratorio, then our bell concert, our candlelight carol concert, a Christmas party for our ChildShare foster children, secret Santas, Salvation Army angel trees and so much more! It sure does keep us busy but it serves so many diverse groups in our area! So very proud of what we do and that it is mostly done through our Sunday School classes, Bible Study groups and members volunteering their time and talents to join together in celebration of the season! -Sandy Huse
18. More Welcoming: Christmas is special because in the last several years there has been a concentrated effort on being welcoming/hospitable in real-life worship and gatherings, in print and website materials. -Janet Schaeffer
19. A Service for Everyone: Our church has five services on Christmas Eve, and that doesn’t include our “Fakesmas Eve” service we have earlier in the week for anyone who is leaving town! I love that each service is geared for a different demographic: 3 p.m. for older ‘can’t drive at night’ crowd and the young families with babies who go to bed early, all the way to candlelight at midnight with soft music and readings for those of us who are working that night and need a place to regroup and remember what we are there for. -Patty Burger
20. Outdoor Family Service: The weather at the end of December in Tucson averages in the mid 70s, perfect for an outdoor worship service. Our children’s courtyard is set up with white rented chairs, tiki torches as Advent candles, and hand-painted starry backdrops. Members of our praise band lead worship with sunglasses on, our children’s choir provides the offertory and our senior pastor shares an interactive child-friendly message including a live nativity walk of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus leading a live donkey. A petting zoo is set up within view of the worship area. The service concludes with children ages 3 and up receiving gift bags and the petting zoo opening where families and kids are able to interact with the animals. -Sheila Yamanaka
21. Glow Sticks: The last five years we’ve put on big hour-long productions that include glow sticks, aerialists, singing, dancing and acting. The last two years got really unique… we had iLuminate (the glow suit dancers) join us for a special number in our Christmas production. Since our performance is open to children, during the production our main actors tell the story of Jesus’ birth through a storybook—a Lego storybook that is. We scanned photos from the Lego book and show them on a huge screen the size of our stage. -Elle Ell
22. Portable Christmas: We are a portable church so every year at Christmas we have to find a venue that will work for more than 700 people and then figure out how we will make that our own. Last year we did Christmas Eve in a movie theater. The year before we rented a venue and had horse-drawn carriage rides and a family photo booth. It can be stressful in some ways to be continually figuring out what Christmas will be like. But it also makes it exciting. It’s surprising—like Christmas itself. -Carrie Evans
23. Christmas Camels: While we tend to have some kind of varying theme for the service, we always have live camels out front. It’s a great draw for people driving by and a fun place for kids/families to get to do something different at Christmas. Last year we added pony rides. It seems kinda silly and superfluous, but we’re known around town as the church with the camels. If it gets people here, we’re willing to try it. – Chandos Schorstein
24. Giving Back: We always hold an amazing Santa breakfast for our children where the get to “shop” for their parents. We also have a great tradition of the giving tree where we fulfill the wishes and needs of local children who may not have the means for a good Christmas. -Bryan Waldron
25. Keep It Simple: No grandiose, over-the-top production/pageant. Let the Word carry it. -Jeffrey Greunke
The above article, “25 Christmas Stories: How Does Your Sunday School Do Christmas?” was written by Kevin D. Hendricks. The article was excerpted from www.churchmarketing.com web site. August 2017.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”