Does your youth group have traditions? Maybe a Yankee swap, live nativity or Operation Christmas Child packing party? Community is key in our current culture, and creating an atmosphere of traditions can enhance your group. But beyond creating community though tradition, you are ensuring your group knows the story of Christ’s birth.
Search the story. Celebrate heaven coming to dwell among us! It sounds cliche, but share the story of Christ’s birth. Examine how each of the Gospels presents the birth of Jesus. Many of us have heard this story our entire life, but that’s not true for everyone — even those sitting in your youth group or congregation. Only a handful of years ago, I was discipling a young woman who was new in her faith. When I asked what she knew about the Christmas story, she said, “Well, I know it has something to do with a baby.”
Sing the carols. Explore the story of Jesus’ birth though the carols of Christmas. Match the words of the songs with Scripture. Just like the biblical story, many students are not familiar with the carols of the season. Sing the carols with your community.
Look at Christmas around the world. One week of the season consider having groups of different ethnicities share how they celebrate the season. Consider blending with another group who may be different than you for the same opportunity. Food, music and traditions can enhance the nativity story.
Share a gift in honor of missions. Support the Lottie Moon mission offering. A mentor once shared a practice he followed each Christmas. He made a point to give a monetary gift to missions that exceeded the most expensive gift he purchased for others. Giving a greater amount than a gift purchased for family helped him keep his focus on the true meaning of the season.
Speaking of Lottie Moon, have a student share about the life and mission of this early missionary. She has an extraordinary story for her day that is still challenging for our time. https://www.imb.org/who-was-lottie-moon
Send a note. Around the world you will find students whose parents are missionaries, living in another country. Teenagers, along with their parents, have left a familiar life to become light in a place of spiritual darkness. Most will tell you how much they love where they live and the adventure, but they have also made sacrifices. Send a note as a group to begin a conversation.
This is not an exhaustive list by far. But the season is unique to specific opportunities. Celebrate a key aspect of our faith that God sent his only Son to dwell among us!
Allyson Clark serves at the BCNE as the co-director of Next Generation ministries, in charge of youth ministry.