Christmas in our house usually begins in about July. I wish I could blame it on my husband being the worship pastor and needing to plan all the events; but I think deep down it’s a love for the season. If your house is anything like mine, Christmas brings a different rhythm into your home. It’s hurried yet calm.
Yes, we try to squeeze in church functions, Christmas parties with school, family, or friends, and see the classic Christmas movies. During this chaos, there is a calm for me found in the family time, baking cookies, looking at Christmas lights, and sharing the Christmas traditions we do as a family. One way I love to leverage this time of being together is discipling my kids.
Read with your children
My husband and I disciple our kids during the Advent season by what we read. Before my kids were born, my mom gave us a book by Jack Stockman entitled The Advent Book. It was a fun book to read as my kids were little, because each night you would read part of the story of Jesus’ birth. There were corresponding doors that open, and each page had an animal and Christmas decoration find.
It was perfect for those first few years where my kids had a short attention span. Then as they grew older, a friend introduced us to the Jotham’s Journey series that does well at depicting the events around Jesus’ birth from four different character’s viewpoints. We would read one perspective a year, and it always grew in us a love of anticipation for what is to come. It has talking points and scripture; as a family we’ve always loved to go through those books.
There are so many resources available each year that we choose one or two and intentionally spend time together going through them. Last year, we had a puzzle made of cards that had a different person in Jesus’ family tree that we learned about.
Gift your children tools for spiritual growth
Another way we help to disciple our children at Christmas is in what presents they receive. Each year, everyone in the family gets a gift that helps them grow spiritually. So often we can forget that our spiritual bodies need nourishing, too. When our children were infants or toddlers, this looked like a picture book or music that sings scripture. As they’ve gotten older, it has morphed into devotionals or Bible study materials. We’re about to breech the teenage years with our oldest, and I think it’s a possibility that one day the spiritual gift we purchase is money towards a mission trip or camp.
We try to be creative with this gift, but through the years we’ve found some great books about faith for children that have become favorites. Children’s books by R.C. Sproul, “Fool Moon Rising” by Fluharty, “The Biggest Story” by Kevin DeYoung, and “The Garden The Curtain and the Cross” by Laferton are all beautifully written and illustrated.
Serve alongside your children
One final way we like to use the Christmas season to disciple our kids is by serving. We do this by baking for others since my kids range in ages from 4-12. I’d love to do a meal for homeless or sort toys for foster kids, but I often find it hard to serve and keep an eye on all my littles. In a time where my children are so self-consumed – updating their Christmas list with new items, shaking gifts for them under the tree, and getting so excited for what may be in their stockings – we try and take time to focus on others.
But it’s also a way for us to look for the lonely around us. We can bake a few Christmas treats to share and use the opportunity to give, especially during a season when they’re preoccupied with what they will be given. We serve because we’ve been served, and it is a great way for us to show Christ’s love to others.
Encouragement from one parent to another
In closing, I want to send some encouragement to wade through the many resources available to us as Christian parents to disciple our children no matter what the age. I’ve tried to highlight some of our family favorites, but there are so many more that I’ve left out. This year grab that advent devotional your church is doing and prepare for next year. Take time to squeeze in the extra talking time with your kids and serve alongside them even if it means sacrificing a classic Christmas movie or two.
We choose different resources each year, so no two years are the same. That’s the joy of the season. We focus on Jesus, disciple our kids a bit more each day, and build the anticipation of hope in them. What traditions can you start this year or prepare for in 2020?