Home Worship Planning Seasons & Holidays Children's Christmas Eve Service

Children's Christmas Eve Service

This Christmas Eve service was held at Mt. Sylvan United Methodist Church in Durham, North Carolina, in 2011. Participating in the service were Dr. Thomas M Greener, Pastor of Congregational Life, the Rev. Jessie Larkins, Pastor of Family Life, the Rev. Kathie Wilkinson, Pastor of Worship Life, Carolyn Harriss, Piano, Neil Allen and Kristin Sawyer, Guitars.

Order of Worship – Printed bulletins (to allow people to take them home, sing carols together as a family) and words on a projector. In this working copy, suggested pictures are indicated throughout the service. This congregation showed the picture while the Scripture was read, then showed a slide with the words of the carol. For this service, the congregation used only the first verse of each carol (except for "Away in a Manger"). If they needed to sing a song more than once (to give time for all children to gather), they repeated the first verse.


O Come, All Ye Faithful
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, Born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Lighting the Christ Candle
(Add liturgy here with sung response used throughout Advent.)

The Christmas Story: Luke 2:1-5
(Slide of Bethlehem – Mary and Joseph on the way to Bethlehem)

O Little Town of Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie;
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Luke 2:6-7
(Slide of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus in the stable)

Away in a Manger
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.

Luke 2: 8–14
(Slide of the angels appearing to the shepherds)

Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinner reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!"

Luke 2:15-20
(Slide of the shepherds at the manger)

The First Noel
The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay.
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, born is the King of Israel.

Matthew 2:1-11
(Slide of the wise men on their way to Bethlehem)

We Three Kings
We three kings of Orient are bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain following yonder star.
Oh, star of wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding guide us to thy Perfect Light.

Solo: Was He a Child Like Me?

Children's Sermon: The Crippled Lamb

(Slide of the manger scene)

Joy to the World
Joy to The world! The Lord has come:
Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing,

Invitation to the Table

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Offertory Response
This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the Son of Mary.

Communion (The Great Thanksgiving)

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Sharing the Light
(Slide of candle flickering)

Silent Night
Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child.
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.


Go Tell it on the Mountain
Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere.
Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.

Service Notes:

No rehearsals are needed, but enlist these people ahead of time:

  • Greeters (Adults and Children)
  • People to give out bulletins and invite/help children dress in costumes
  • Ushers (Parent/child teams)
  • People to take up the offering
  • Communion Helpers (Children)
  • Older child/children to read Scripture (if desired)
  • Optional: Children who would like to sing solos or parent/child to sing duet

Give out candles to people after they receive Communion.

As children arrive, they choose which character they would like to be in the nativity. They get their costume out of the costume box, dress, and sit with their parents until they see the cue card telling them to come to the stable.

Parents help young children watch for their cue. This congregation used the children’s choir robes for angels and made garland halos. The other costumes were purchased from Oriental Trading Company for less than $10 each (gown and headdress for people, vests and hats for animals). The congregation had multiple costumes for each character in the story.

These were the costumes used and the number of each. The total was 50.

6 Mary light blue costume (gown and headdress)
6 Joseph maroon costume
8 Shepherds green or brown costumes
12 Angels garland halos and white (children’s choir) robes
12 Animals vests and hats (3 of each: donkey, cow, sheep, camel)
6 kings red, purple, royal blue costumes and crowns
The kings carry gifts (collection of gold wrapped gift boxes, treasure chests, pretty perfume bottles).

Stage Directions (Who goes where and when?)
Luke 2:1-5
Song : "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (donkeys and cows)

Luke 2:6-7
Song : "Away in a Manger" (Mary and Joseph)

Luke 2:8-14
Song: "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" (angels)

Luke 2:15-20
Song : "The First Noel" (shepherds and sheep)

Matthew 2:1-11
Song: "We Three Kings" (kings and camels)

Children's Sermon: All children remain at front
If there are children who did not choose to be a character, invite them to come to the chancel area for the children’s sermon.

Song: "Joy to the World"
Children go back to sit with parents

Prepare cue cards – 8 ½ x 11 card stock for each of the groups of characters… (donkeys/cows, Mary/Joseph, etc.)
An adult holds up the cue card during each song to call the children dressed as that character to gather at the manger
Once children come forward, they remain at the nativity through the end of the story and the children’s sermon.

Alternate plans if you do not have costumes, don’t have money to purchase that many costumes, or if trying to dress all children is not reasonable in your church:

  • Purchase one set of costumes and ask children ahead of time to participate; then you could even practice!

  • Use a nativity set instead – Assign each child to bring in each figure to create the nativity. Use a nativity that is as large as the space and your budget will allow so it will b visible to all once it is assembled. Consider having a bulletin marked with the place that the child will bring the nativity figure to the stable to communicate the proper time to the parent. Have the children sit with their parents. This way the nativity is "presented" from the congregation. Nativity figures are brought up at the same time in the service as in the scenario above where children gather at the stable. Children then return to sit with their parents. After all the figures are brought in, invite the the children come to the nativity set for the children's sermon.

Copyright 2011 Mt. Sylvan United Methodist Church, 5731 Roxboro Road, Durham, NC 27712; 919-471-0032. Used with permissions. Congregations are encouraged to use and adapt this service for their settings. Please credit Mt. Sylvan United Methodist Church as the source of the service.

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