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Ho Ho Hope

29 November, 2021

In the United States there is an extra holiday between Halloween and Christmas that we do not have in Northern Ireland - Thanksgiving. Even though we spent much of my childhood outside of the U.S, my family still held to the tradition that Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving. There were strict rules about not listening to Christmas music or getting any Christmas decorations out until after Thanksgiving. Now, whether we celebrate Thanksgiving or not, it feels like Christmas begins earlier and earlier each year. The great thing is that Christmas gives us a massive opportunity with the young people we serve. Here are a couple of thoughts to help you get the most out of this Christmas season.

Embrace the Opportunity

As much as we may cringe at how commercial Christmas has become, this season remains about Christ. Between carol services, nativity displays, school assemblies, and even some of the Christmas films, teens are surrounded by messages about Jesus.

This is a bit like a marketing campaign, where for a few weeks teens are bombarded with messages, songs, stories, and theology (both good and bad!) about the birth of Jesus. 

At what other time of year do you walk through a supermarket and hear ‘glory to the newborn King!’ playing? In my experience, this can make teens more receptive to the gospel.

Christian youth leaders and volunteers have a terrific opportunity to invite teens into meaningful conversations and experiences about the gospel, and this is one that should be taken advantage of. 

Why not try:

  • Having a discussion time for youth after this year’s carol service.
  • Unpacking the lyrics of some Christmas songs  - what does ‘God and sinners reconciled’ really mean?

Engage with the Story 

The Christmas story may be familiar, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to learn!

Did you know?

  • Mary and Joseph probably didn’t ride on a donkey to Bethlehem.
  • There might have been 3 wise men, there might have been 10! We don’t know.
  • Remember that innkeeper with no room? Yeah, he isn’t mentioned in the Bible!

Going back to the Christmas story as told in the gospels is like a gift that keeps on giving as the Holy Spirit reveals new things year after year. Walking your young people through the Christmas narrative provides an opportunity to help them see the big picture of God’s plan of redemption as it unfolds from the promise of an offspring who would conquer (Genesis 3:15) to the birth of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2). 

Why not try:

  • An Advent Guide with your students
  • Teaching a series on Matthew 1-2 or Luke 1-2.

Empower your young people.

The people in the best position to share the gospel with teens today are… Christian teens! Sometimes we just have to help them see the opportunity they carry.  

What if you were to give your youth group some tools to reach others this Christmas? 

Knowing that their friends are probably more receptive at this time of year, some conversation starters can be really helpful.

Why not try:

  • Teaching young people to deliver a 2 minute ‘elevator pitch’ of the Christmas story
  • Teaching the Christian meaning behind some popular festive traditions
  • Creating an Instagram post they could all share

Christmas gives us a chance to grow our young people’s love for Christ, and to send them out with the hope of Christ. So, as you munch your mince pies and decorate your tree, make sure you don’t miss the opportunity this season presents for disciple making.

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