Best children’s Christmas story book

One of my favourite resources for the Christmas season is Jesus’ Christmas Party by Nicholas Allan.

Nicholas Allan writes and illustrates the nativity through the eyes of a grumpy inn keeper who is unexpectedly at the centre of Jesus’ birth.  The story follows him as he is woken up repeatedly by Mary and Joseph and guests visiting the newborn.

I first heard of the book when I was a child and it was used for a Sunday School drama to present the Christmas narrative to the whole church.  As a children’s and youth worker I’ve used it numerous times, be it with young pre-school children, older teenagers, or non-Christian adults.  The book is easy for people to follow and join in, and yet still allows for profounds truths to be taught.

It can be bought in a number of sizes – from A6 just to fit in the pocket and use to tell a large group of people, to a large A4 size which a class of children can crowd around and look at the pictures.

What children want for Christmas: a Dad

When it comes to Christmas, it might be safe to assume children will ask Santa for an extensive list of toys, games and treats.  But a survery of their typical lists for Father Christmas has shown many have more serious concerns, requesting “a dad” instead.

A study of 2,000 British parents found most children will put a new baby brother or sister at the top of their Christmas list, closely followed by a request for a real-life reindeer.

A “pet horse” was the third most popular choice, with a “car” making a bizarre entry at number four.  But despite their material requests, the tenth most popular Christmas wish on the list was a “Dad”.

The survey, of consumers at Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City, found children aged three to 12 years also wanted a dog, chocolate and a stick of rock.  Traditional hopes for a white Christmas were represented by a wish for “snow” in ninth place, with sensible youngsters also requesting a “house”.

Of the top 50 festive requests, 17 related to pets and animals, with some imaginative children hoping for a donkey, chicken and elephant.

iPhones and iPads also appeared on the list, with some quirky children asking for the moon, a time machine, a pond cover and beetroot.

A request for a “mum” reached number 23 on the list.

Children’s & youth work links

Links from the world of children’s and youth ministry:

Children’s and Young People writing

Key findings about children and young people writing in 2015 from the Literacy Trust, based on a survey of 32,569 children and young people aged 8 to 18, include:

  • Fewer children and young people enjoyed writing in 2015 compared with the previous year, with enjoyment levels dropping from 49.3% in 2014 to 44.8% in 2015.
  • Fewer children and young people wrote something daily outside class in 2015 than in 2014, with daily writing levels decreasing from 27.2% in 2014 to 20.7% in 2015. Daily writing levels also continue to be in stark contrast to daily reading levels, which have increased dramatically over the past couple of years.
  • When asked whether they ever write something that they don’t share with anyone else, nearly half (46.8%) of children and young people said they did.
  • Technology-based formats, such as text messages (68.6%), messages on social networking sites (44.3%) and instant messages (46.2%) continue to dominate the writing that children and young people engaged in outside class in 2015. Notes (3%), letters (25.8%) and lyrics (24.6%) are the most frequently written non-technology formats. With the exception of poems, most formats of writing have again decreased in 2015.
  • Attitudes towards writing have remained unchanged in 2015.

Read the full findings here.

It leaves me reflecting on how we encourage journaling with teenagers in the church.

It’s encouraging to see that 46.8% of children and young people write things that they don’t share with anyone else, but with daily writing outside the classroom dropping substantially from 27.2% in 2014 to 20.7% in 2015 I think we need to look at how we recommend technology-based formats of journaling.

Vacancy – Above Bar Church

Above Bar Church in Southampton is looking to appoint a Post-Graduate Student Children’s Minister:

STEP TRAINEE (CHILDREN)

Are you passionate about children’s ministry? Are you experienced in working with children and eager to develop your skills? Are you a servant-hearted, creative and flexible team player who is able to work alongside others in leading children’s ministry? Would you like to combine training within a large city-centre evangelical church with studying for a post-graduate degree in children’s ministry?

If so, we would love to support you in loving God, following Jesus, and sharing hope within the context of children’s ministry.

Above Bar Church is looking for a Children’s Ministry Trainee to start in September 2017. This is a two or three-year position, which comprises of approximately 21 hrs/wk serving in the church and 14 hrs/wk studying (typically) an MA in Children’s and Family work.
Bursaries, hosting, and funding to cover fees are available if needed and will be discussed with the successful applicant.

For more information or to apply, please email office@abovebarchurch.org.uk

Deadline for applications is 31st Jan 2017.

Children’s and youth work links

Here are some links from around the world of children’s and youth ministry:

Five Myths that Perpetuate Burnout Across Nonprofits: There is a pervasive fear in the nonprofit field that focusing inwardly—on our staff, our leadership, even our own salaries—will take away from achieving our organizational missions. That needs to change.

5 New Years resolutions for discipling young people: James writes on the buzz theme of discipleship and suggests five resolutions that would enable discipleship that might be authentic, life and world transforming.

We’ve all been the new kid: When we teach young people to value each person as God does, their perspective changes.  How much better would it be for our first time visitors if we took away some of the guesswork at a first session and ensured experienced young people helped them.

Creating student leaders in youth ministry: Nick Steinloski writes on the purpose of the Young Leaders and the annual rhythm for their group.

What does discipleship look like on a council estate?  Living a life of faith can look quite different outside the bastion of middle-class Christianity.

Christmas All-Age Prayers

Yesterday we adapted a prayer idea from Flame Creative Kids Ministry which works brilliant for children with SEND.  Here’s our adaptation for PowerPoint for the prayers to use on the big screen.

We’re going to take a few moments to pray using the characters from the nativity.  For each character there is a picture and a topic that I will read out.  I will then give you a moment to either silently or quietly in your families pray for that topic.

Mary

Thank you for parents and people who look after us

Joseph

Please help people who have to make difficult decisions

Animals

Thank you for animals and all of the world you made

Shepherds

Help us to tell people about who Jesus is

Star

Please show us the right way to go when we are confused

Wise Men

Please help all people who are searching to find what they are looking for

Jesus

Thank you for sending Jesus to be with us and help us