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Making the Christmas Message Stick for Pre-Teens

The story of Christmas is a familiar one to preteens. Knowing the story of Jesus’ birth is life-changing–so how do we make the Christmas message “stick” in their hearts and minds? Here are some ideas:

1. Make It Real. When sharing the Christmas message, talk about how Jesus’ birth and life impacts students’ lives in the here and now. The core message of Christmas and Jesus’ birth is summed up in the word Immanuel, which means God is with us. How many preteens have sung songs and heard that word repeated but missed the meaning?God is with us means that we have access to a relationship with Jesus now. God is present here on earth. Because of Jesus, we can have a real relationship with the creator of the universe! Use Christmas as an opportunity to talk about what that looks like in the life of a preteen.

2. Be Experiential. Preteens disengage when we “preach” to them. They don’t want to sit for 20 minutes and listen to you communicate information. They learn best when you use a hands-on, experiential approach to learning. With that in mind, here are some experiential, fun activities that work with a Christmas related lesson.

Balloon Race–Give each preteen a balloon with their name on it. Have the kids stand in a straight line, shoulder to shoulder, on one side of a room. Invite all the kids to blow up their balloons and then release them at the same time. The player’s balloon that lands closest to the opposite wall wins.The point: God is with us and within us. He is as close to us as our very breath. Just as we breathed air into our balloons, God breathes His spirit into us.

Shepherds, Angels, and You–Open your Bible to Luke 2:8. Read the story of the shepherds and the angels, and then divide your group into Shepherds and Angels and act it out!

Always think of ways to add fun, hands-on activities to help drive home the point. Preteens will be more engaged, making the message “stick.” 

3. Reach Out. Preteens can get caught up in the consumerism of Christmas, which creates an “all about me” attitude. Fourth- through sixth- graders learn best by doing, and jump at the chance to make a difference. So give them the opportunity to reach out to those in your community.

Some ideas:

  • Give up a gift they receive this Christmas and instead give it to a child in need.
  • Volunteer at a local food shelter.
  • Volunteer to wrap gifts at the mall during the busy shopping season.

Allow preteens to be a part of the planning process, and ask them for ideas of how to serve the community. The more they are involved in the planning, the more of an impact the experience will have on them.  

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Over twelve years ago Nick Diliberto lauched a preteen ministry with a handful of volunteers and about 25 kids. Over the years it grew to over 100 kids and has impacted hundreds of young people's lives. Nick is the driving force behind PreteenMinistry.net, Children's Director at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, workshop speaker and author of an ongoing preteen column in Children's Ministry Magazine.