Those Crazy Christmas Programs

people standing inside church
Photo by Blue Ox Studio on

Ok – we made it through the preschool Christmas program — 40 three and four-year-olds performing on a high scale of cuteness. And all went well … sort of.  Except shy Annie did let out a scream when told to go up on the platform, And Jared’s parents got the time wrong, missed the program itself, but got there for the refreshments which is mostly what Jared cared about anyhow … and then there was Aiden who spent the entire program using his tail (he was a lamb) as a laser gun to target people in the audience.

But over all it was preciousness plus.

Still, we couldn’t relax. Not yet. In two hours, the Sunday school program was scheduled to begin. Those of us who were involved in both, sat down in the church kitchen, ate a quick sandwich and prepared for program #2. A couple of the men headed to the storage room to get the bags of fruit and candy which the youth group had prepared a couple weeks before. The kids looked forward to getting them at the end of the night.

We heard the groans even before the men reached the kitchen. The teens had tightly wrapped the food in garbage bags with no air ventilation and then stored them next to the heating vent.

NOW we had bags full of rotten oranges that dripped and splattered on dozens and dozens of candy bars and other treats. All unusable.

Chaos ensued.

One man ran across the street to the pharmacy to buy them out of suitable candy and purchase new bags. A lady cleaned out the Awana store, snagging every candy bar she could find. Another lady drove home to get some fruit she had purchased for a school event.

As the new supplies came in, the rest of us quickly bundled and packed.

By six o’clock, no one would’ve guessed how frantic we all were just an hour before.

Because Christmas programs happen, but no matter what goes wrong, they seem to go  … mostly right.

Today I was reading a thread on a children’s ministry site about leaders/teachers and the anxiety they were feeling as their programs grew closer.

I’ve done a few programs in my life. Well … more than a few and although several have had major last-minute “situations,” none have failed.

Here’s some things I’ve learned …

*Remember, no verse in the Bible says anything about having perfect Christmas programs
with perfect kids performing perfectly for perfect parents. In fact, I can’t even find a verse about imperfect programs … so relax.

*Acknowledge kids will be kids. Little wiggly kids who stare off into space (or use their tails as laser guns) will be remembered as cute, not as someone who ruined your performance. (Of course, middle school kids who act up aren’t remembered quite as cutely.)

*Prepare as much as you can beforehand. One year we decided to have the preschoolers act out Luke 2. Instead of having them do so AT the program, we videoed them doing it beforehand (which also gave us more leeway for scenery). Then at the program, they watched themselves along with their parents. This eliminated the possibility of Joseph getting the chicken pox, the shepherd forgetting his lines, or a number of other glitches.

*Keep it simple. The parents are there to see their kids. They don’t care that much about the backdrop, the special effects, or a twenty-minute monologue by a teacher talking about all that they learned so far. (Parents probably know about that anyhow.) 

*Think quickly. Always be aware of needing Plan B. Like the year one of the kids pulled the head off “Baby Jesus” at the last minute. Fortunately, we had high school kids doing the major characters that year and Kelli and Jeff (my own kids – siblings) were Mary and Joseph. Fortunately, a young couple was in the audience with their young baby. Fortunately the young couple knew Kelli and willingly handed over their baby 45 seconds before the program began. He did fine.

*Don’t panic. Even if the backdrop of Bethlehem falls off the platform, do what you can and move on. No one will hold it against you. If someone comes up to you afterwards and says they know how to do backdrops that don’t fall over, simply smile and say: “Thanks, I’ll put you down for prop director next year.”

*Share the gospel. People show up at a Christmas programs that won’t set foot inside a church at any other time. Some of these people don’t know the Lord. Many churches have the pastor give a 10 minute plan of salvation. You could also have an older kid do it (think pulling in one of your high school teens), or make sure it’s clearly communicated during the program itself. Just don’t focus so much on the entertainment that you miss your opportunity to share Christ.

*And remember, no verse in the Bible says anything about having perfect Christmas programs with perfect kids performing perfectly for perfect parents. In fact, I can’t even find a verse about imperfect programs … so relax.

Everything will be just fine.


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