I know that not every church is like this.
Please know that I realize that for some churches the program is more than a performance. For those churches, the children are involved in church all year long as participants and not just performers and the Christmas program is an extension of a greater story. I am beyond blessed to serve in a church like this.
But many of the reports I hear from Christmas programs across the board can be summed up like this, “All year we are invisible, but today…today we shine.” And that makes me sad.
What can be done?
Well, for one, we can start making the children part of the larger corporate worship more frequently, giving them a name and voice and relationships rather than just being cute and adorable.
Create space for adults to interact with children on level ground rather than as active performer and passive recipient.
Define roles differently—children as saints of God and adults as children of God; the children’s director as pastor and shepherd of God’s flock not keeper of kids; the congregation as a family of all generations not a division of age groups and ministries.
Christmas programs are in and of themselves not the issue.
I mean, let’s face it, they are part of the regular church experience and, come on, the kids are really cute!
But if that’s all they are, if that is the only time they are seen and the only role they fill, then Christmas programs are the issue. If that’s the only time the children’s minister is a part of corporate worship, it’s an issue. If a culture of “us” and “them” is perpetuated or if children are guests in the service rather than family at the table, then it’s an issue.
Christmas is a time we celebrate Love coming to earth…as a child. Our programming, no matter how cute or adorable it is, should be a continuation of that story through the community and family that is the church.
This article originally appeared here.