Let Every PRETEEN Heart Prepare Him Room!
by Bill Emeott
Christmas during the preteen years can be very difficult to navigate. Are they kids? Are they youth? Is it too childish? Is it too mature? Listed below are some ideas to help include Preteens in the Advent celebration.
- Encourage Participation. Lead your preteen children to help plan how your family will celebrate Advent then expect and encourage them to participate in carrying out those plans.
- Encourage Giving. It really is better to give than receive, but most preteens don’t understand that truth. Consider ways your family can put emphasis on giving instead of receiving.
- Encourage Family Worship. If your family doesn’t already, now is a good time to start coming together for a time of family worship. Find the time as a family to use this guide or some other appropriate way to lead your family in preparing their hearts for Christmas through Bible reading, prayer, and singing. Allow your preteen to be an active participant leading portions of the worship.
- Encourage Personal Worship. Preteens can (and should) have personal Bible reading, prayer, and quiet time. Encourage your preteen to schedule daily personal worship and provide age-appropriate guides (Bible Express is great and provided through their Sunday School classes). Consider creating an Advent calendar with daily scripture readings and prayer guides created uniquely for your preteen.
- Encourage Service. It’s not all about them. Decide on at least four ways your family can serve others this season and plan to carry out those acts of kindness each week of Advent. Visits to shut-ins, helping at a local shelter, sending cards to those who’ve had deaths this past year, or adopting a lonely widow or single adult are a few examples of ways preteens can serve others.
How Families with Preschoolers Can Celebrate Advent
By Julie Lankford
Sing “Mary Had a Baby Boy” to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” End with, “and his name was Jesus.” Create other verses for the song with your children. Begin with Shepherds ... angels ...anything else from the story they want to sing about.
Purchase a durable nativity set that can be displayed on a coffee table or other low area. Use the manger scene pieces to tell and discuss the story of Jesus’ birth as you read it from Luke 2 and Matthew 2. For young preschoolers, tell the story in pieces across several days: the journey to Bethlehem on one day, the birth and the shepherds and angels on one day, the Wise Men and the star on another day.
Discuss the reason that Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem and the reason they ended up in a stable.
Replace your normal bedtime songs with Christmas carols or songs about the birth of Jesus.
Ask children what a manger is! Ask what they had to sleep in when they were babies, and compare that to what Jesus was laid in. Why was he in a feed box in a stable? In this spirit, gather new or unneeded soft baby items to donate to the Freedom Recovery Center, to Christian Women’s Job Corp, or to a friend with a new baby. We can show love to others by making sure those babies are comfortable and warm.