Note to the Teacher
Christmas Eve is one of those services that families love doing together. Though there are likely exceptions, almost every church brings youth and adults together for this service. Therefore, we are going to offer a selection of ideas for how to make this service particularly impactful for youth.
Pack and Distribute Blessing Bags
Sometime before the service (hours or days), gather the youth to pack bags filled with treats and a thank-you card. The goal is to pack as many of these as you expect to have people in worship on Christmas Eve. The youth will hand out these bags as people leave. These can be specifically meaningful for first-time or out-of-town visitors to make a connection with your congregation. Instructions will be given at the end of the service for participants to stop by somewhere on their way home and deliver the blessing bags to people who are working on Christmas Eve night.
Share Prayers from Blue Christmas
If your service has a moment of prayer, ask permission to explain about the Blue Christmas service your youth had and invite the congregation to pray for some of the specific concerns expressed there.
Youth ‘Coloring’ Sheets
Many churches pass out coloring sheets and crayons for children to use during the service. This time, create a “coloring” sheet for youth. Instead of crayons and line drawings, take the order of worship and do a little research about the different songs and scriptures. Give an interesting paragraph of extra information about each of the elements of the worship service. You can also give doodle prompts below the paragraphs, inviting the youth to draw their favorite Christmas gift or what they think the manger looked like, a creative version of the word Christmas, and so on.
Give an Ornament, Take an Ornament
Create a “Youth Tree” outside the worship service that has no ornaments on it yet. Tell youth the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve (and remind them on the actual day) that they are going to exchange ornaments this year. They can create an ornament or buy an ornament, but the only stipulation is that the ornament must be somehow related to the Jesus story. When students arrive, invite them to place their ornaments on the tree. As students leave, allow them to take an ornament with them.
Ahead of time, ask parents to send you a picture of their student with permission to give the photo to someone else to pray for their child. (If you don’t feel comfortable with pictures, names will do.). Print enough for the number of students you think will attend. On the back, give the student’s name and a prayer of blessing that someone can pray over the student during the next year.
Before the service, take a stack of bulletins and stuff the bulletins with the prayer pictures. As youth come into the service, give them one of the special stuffed bulletins and invite them to pray for the youth they find inside for the next year.
For youth or families that are traveling from your church to another church for Christmas (say with extended family out of state) create a prayer card and small travel/care package for that young person and their family to bring with them on their trip. It could include any of the previously mentioned items, as well as specific prayers, well wishes, devotions, or brain teasers. Keep it lightweight and small, ensure it can be organized and handed over before travel starts – perhaps even a week before Christmas.