Ah, the blessed holidays, when a child’s attention span is no bigger than a sugar plum fairy, and Bible teaching classrooms are flooded with lots of cool new gadgets and toys being sneaked in by their happy recipients. This time of year can be challenging at best for the conscientious teacher.
The week before and after Christmas children typically are off of their regular schedules for winter break and jacked up on holiday treats. It can truly test the patience of even the jolliest Bible teacher. So, what can you do to help kids remember, “Hey! It’s not your birthday!?”
Indulge Them a Little
You are not going to avoid the holiday distractions in your classroom. The best thing to do is let it vent (just a little) at the beginning or end of class. Give your kids a few minutes to discuss their holiday excitement and, hopefully, get it out of their system long enough to teach them about the guy ACTUALLY having the birthday!
Bring it Back to Jesus
Bringing the holidays back to Jesus is not something that just small children need to be reminded of. Older kids, teens and even adults need to be brought back to the “true meaning of Christmas” during the holidays, and often more than once.
There are, however, creative ways to get their minds back on Jesus. Focusing on different aspects of the birth of Christ can help catch their attention. Consider, for example…
- The place of the birth. Why was Bethlehem so important anyway? Why must Jesus be born there? There is much that can be explored concerning prophecy and the providence of God in how everyone got to exactly where they needed to be for the birth.
- The hardships of the birth. We often envision the cozy manger scenes on our mantles and think, “How precious.” But the reality is a lady had to give birth in a barn, after traveling many miles. Were they cold? Were they hungry? This was Mary’s first child, and Scripture indicates she gave birth without the help of a midwife. Was she scared? Was Joseph scared? Jewish men didn’t usually assist with births. What a night, they must have had.
- The danger of his birth. Even though the visit of the Magi and Herod’s reaction likely happened some months after the actual birth of Jesus, it’s clear that this “King” was a perceived threat to Herod right from the start. Help children recount the timeline of Herod trying to track Jesus down and Joseph and Mary’s flight to keep Him safe. Older children can even delve into the genocide Herod initiated in a final effort to kill Jesus.
Giving Jesus a Birthday Gift
We often focus on giving to others in the name of Jesus at this time of year, but what about actually giving Jesus a gift? What does Jesus want more than anything? More of us! Help students explore gifts they can give to Jesus for his birthday. This is also a great introduction to New Years when many people will begin to think about New Year’s resolutions. What can you give to Jesus for his birthday and in the coming new year?