As a missionary pastor’s wife, sometimes I feel like a roly-poly doll. You know the kind. It could be a clown or an animal or a doll with a heavy round bottom. Whenever a child pushes it over, it rights itself to its original position.
This blog is not talking about a need to lose weight. Instead, the analogy of the roly-poly doll shows us how a missionary or small church pastor and wife need to roll with the punches and keep on going. No matter what is happening or not happening at church, we carry on. Year after year, in spite of ups and downs, we need to ensure our churches remain positive, welcoming places in which exciting things are happening.
Christmas offers a great opportunity for outreach, but sometimes it comes with challenges.
Two years ago I wrote a blog with Christmas program solutions for small churches. I discussed creative solutions for these problems:
- Our kids hate to memorize lines.
- Our teens are too embarrassed to do drama and won’t memorize lines.
- Our church isn’t strong in music or drama.
- Some of our kids hate to wear their costumes.
- Our church is in the middle of a building program.
- We have too few people and resources to do most Christmas programs.
We’ve experienced all these problems in our church and for seventeen years we’ve always been able to offer a meaningful Christmas program.
We have a lot more children than we had two years ago, but now we face other problems:
- We have a lot of kids who come to a weekly club, but don’t come to Sunday School.
- We’ve had many visiting families attend throughout the year, but they haven’t been coming long enough to know we can count on them by Christmas time.
- English is a second language for some of our kids and they don’t have the confidence to say lines on stage. Others have major stage fright.
Like a roly-poly pastor’s wife, I’ve had to go to God in prayer and ask for wisdom again. I believe God has answered and we have a plan. God helped me come up with this plan because I focused on what we have, not on what we don’t have. I also always keep my ears tuned to what others are doing to gain ideas that we can use. You can find solutions, too, when you look for ideas that fit what you have.
When I looked at what we had this year, I realized we have 15 to 20 kids, but we couldn’t count on them to come to rehearsals, memorize lines, or even show up on the night of the program. We also have built up a good supply of costumes over the years. Angel gowns, shepherds’ bathrobes, and some particularly nice wise men costumes.
Also, last year I heard of a church who tried something different. They took their kids to various locations and video-taped them acting various situations. Some talented person put it all together to make a video of the church kids for the Christmas program.
When I added the costumes we had to the idea of filming ahead of time, I had our solution. On the last night of our Discover program for the year we’ll dress our kids in costumes and pose them in positions to tell the Christmas story.
All the boys under ten will be shepherds. All the girls under ten will be angels. We have enough costumes for our maximum number. If some of them don’t show up, we’ll just take pictures of those who do. I’ve got costumes for two innkeepers, but can work with only one or leave out that part entirely. I’ve picked a dependable person to be Joseph and have several girls who can be Mary. Other boys over ten can be wise men. If we have more older girls, I can pose them wrapping packages or baking cookies. I’ll also get the pre-school girls to pose as angels at a separate time.
When the photos are done, I’ll write a narration that fits the Power Point slides. The narration can be read on the night. We’ll make copies of the photos to give to parents to keep.
We’re also practicing a group song that all the kids can sing. Whether our kids are few or many on the program night, we can still go ahead with it. We’ll also add several songs from our adult choir.
As a result, basically all of our kids can be featured at our Christmas program, but we don’t have to worry about who will show up. We don’t have to beg uninterested parents or those who live far from town to drive their kids to a rehearsal. The kids love parading around in the costumes, but they don’t have to worry about stage fright. We’ll encourage the families of all of our kids to attend, but if some don’t show up we can carry on.
Are their disadvantages to staging the Christmas story ahead of time instead of actually watching kids act it out? Sure there are. We may never do the program this way again, but it gives us a solution for one year. The walk of faith is one step at a time and God has shown us the next step for our Christmas program this year.
If you are struggling to find a solution to your small church problem this year, why not check out the solutions I’ve listed in my blog “Christmas Program Solutions for your Small Church.” Or check my Church Programs page. Some of my programs take a fair amount of advance preparation, but I’ve also included some that can be done with very little preparation.
If you’re a roly-poly pastor or pastor’s wife in a small church with lots of challenges, may God bless you during this holiday season. And may God give you strength and creativity to meet all the challenges life is throwing at you today.
[image courtesy of agnieszka/Deposit Photos]