The team and I at Grace Fellowship Church worked on creating a new and fresh way for students to hear and experience the Christmas story this year. We didn’t want students to walk in and out of our ministry this December thinking they had heard it all before and that things were “business as usual” when it came to the Christmas season. So we developed what we’ve called “Stations of the Manger” which was inspired by, you guessed it, “Stations of the Cross.” Here’s an overview of how the worship experience went for our students.
We distributed “Stations of the Manger” packets to the student as they walked in. Once everyone was there we opened by showing a 5 minute clip from The Nativity Story (1hr 16 min – 1 hr 21 min) which is the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem through the birth of Jesus. Our goal with this was to set the stage for what the morning was going to be about. The students had about 45 minutes to go through each of the following 5 stations.
- Old Testament prophecies, New Testament fulfillment – there are 4 Old Testament prophecies listed in their handout and we made 4 posters with the New Testament verse or passage that fulfill that prophecy. Student then matched the verse on the wall to the corresponding verse in their packets, writing out the New Testament fulfillment underneath the correct OT prophecy.
- The Shepherds – students read the story of the Shepherds in Luke 2 and highlighted the verses in their handout that show how the Shepherds responded to seeing Jesus (v. 17 & 20). Our challenge for them was to identify at least 1 person that they believe God is prompting them to share their faith with and then write it on the wall (green butcher paper cut to look like a hillside).
- Gifts from the Wise Men – we setup a table with “gold,” frankicense and myrhh for the students to see, touch, and examine. We explained each of the 3 gifts in their packets so they can understand why the Wise Men gave these particular gifts. They were asked to identify a tangible, modern gift that they would give to Jesus and space in their packets to explain why they chose that gift and what it meant.
- Following the Star – they read the story of the Wise Men in Matthew 2 to remind them of the journey they took. They were then instructed to pray about what it is that God may want them to do in the New Year or where they need to be willing to go for Jesus. They wrote out that commitment on a cut out star and taped it to the wall (black butcher paper to look like a starry night). They also journaled in their booklets about their commitment.
- The Manger – we explained the Gospel (using the GOSPEL Journey) and had the students read through it and pray about it. Believing students had the opportunity to write Jesus a Thank You card and place it in the Manger. Students who hadn’t yet made that commitment were challenged to do so. Then they were instructed to take the Thank You card and write their name, email and phone number down so we can follow up with them, as well as the commitment or decision they made.
We ended the morning with a time of sharing, allowing students to talk about the things that had impacted them most about the morning. We sang a few Christmas favorites as part of the worship experience to conclude.
All in all it was a great experience for our students and we accomplished what we set out to do: create a fresh and interactive way to approach the Christmas story, share the Gospel and give students an opportunity to respond to the Good News, and challenge believing students to share their faith with someone in their life.