Christmas season is one of the most busy and exciting times of the year in church. My experience of Christmas season at church is probably pretty similar to your experience. The church has Christmas parties, “Living Nativities” (you know where everyone dresses up as shepherds and the weird guy in your church somehow has a camel he brings), we all have community Christmas dinners and Christmas Eve Service with candles. And in youth group we all do our best to make the services and events we do for our youth fun and enjoyable for the Christmas season.
Last Christmas season I had decided to strip away the fluff of your typical Christmas time series (such as Christmas at the movies etc.) and do a Christmas series that focused solely on the “Christmas Story.” I’m not talking about the one with Daisy Red Ryder BB Guns and Sexy Leg Lamps, but rather the one with Baby Jesus, shepherds and angels. The series was simple Week 1: Promise of Jesus Birth to Mary, Week 2: Fear of Joseph and Week 3: Birth of Jesus and Announcement to the Shepherds.
However, during small group time on week 3 one middle school boy spoke up “Wait what? You’re telling me that the same Jesus that died on the cross is the same Jesus from the nativity scene? I didn’t know that. I thought it was just another Christmas legend or story like the Grinch or Santa Claus.” My first thought was “Seriously dude, how are you so dumb?”, but luckily, I didn’t say that. What I did say was “Yup. Same Jesus.” He continued to act surprised and floored that Jesus the baby was also Jesus the man who died on the cross.
This experience messed with me. How did this middle school kid not realize this? But I thought about it and the kid really wasn’t that far off… we have a disconnect. I can’t even remember one time in my life that I have heard someone teach about Jesus’ birth once outside of the Christmas season. Because we the church also consider it a “Christmas story.” Which for someone that might not be too involved in the church could look at the story of Jesus birth, as just another myth, just another legend, just another Christmas story that ends at the same place all Christmas stories do: “The End.” But we as followers of Jesus know that there’s so much more that comes after Jesus’ birth, because the birth was just the start of God’s mission to bring us back to Him. The Bible is one story, the story of God’s redemptive plan to save us. Everything is connected to this one story and if we don’t teach our students the story of the Bible, how do we expect them to understand the bigger picture of the Bible.
So, here’s my challenge for youth workers, tell the whole story. Show your students how the same God that created the earth, was the same God that sent His Son Jesus to earth as a baby to grow up and die on a cross in our place. While you’re teaching your students the story, teach them to tell the story to others. Because the story of Jesus’ birth isn’t just another Christmas legend or myth, it’s the true story of God’s never ending love for humanity.
- Know the story for yourself. Study the scriptures, see where the connections of God’s story are for yourself.
- Teach your students how to share the story. One way I’ve done this is once I tell a portion of the story, I give each student the chance to retell the story in their own words.
- Don’t stop telling the story. Once you feel like your students understand it, tell it again. Repetition is always the key to remembering. If you do something 100 times, you’ll for sure know it.
- Is our youth ministry telling the story of the Bible in such a way that students can make connections to other portions of scripture? If so, then how? If not, then why?
- What ways can our ministry begin to tell the story of the Bible in such a way that our students can see the connections in the overall story?