Leading a Christmas Pageant
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As we approach the Christmas season, we musicians can offer to lead something very special with our youth: A Christmas Pageant! It can be as simple as reading the birth of Christ from the Bible and interspersing hymns throughout, or adapting an online play to reflect a more Orthodox perspective. Here are 8 tips to consider as you work with youth to present a Christmas pageant. These ultimately can lead to preparing them for service as future musicians of the Church.
- Parent Involvement! Always include the parents and get them on board with your mission & vision. They need to commit to bringing their kids for weekly rehearsals as well as helping where needed. Find specific ways to enlist each parent.
- Communication! Write blurbs & articles for the weekly & monthly bulletins, set up a table after church to solicit participation, & coordinate times & dates with your youth director so you’re on the same page.Decide upon your communication venue: emails, texts, Facebook, or a mix. Choose the performance time and date & make sure you coordinate with other ministries in your parish.
- Relationships! Learn the names of all the kids & their parents. Get to know them. Find their strengths. Be organized & gain the parents’ trust. Make the pageant a means of building life-long friendships in Christ.
- Choose Great Music! Choose music that reflects the skill level of your youth. Include beautiful hymnology of our church with joy and love. When the teacher is excited about the music, the kids will reflect that excitement! Have a mix of simpler and more challenging pieces. Teach the kids to sing in tune & with beauty.
- Start Small and Grow It! Matthew 18:20 says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Pageants are about sharing the joy of Christ’s birth more than about how many kids there are or how many rehearsals are made. Form a core, & build upon it. Set standards, but remember it is ultimately a ministry of the church for the sake of the Gospel.
- Give Kids Responsibility! Teach the kids the importance of being at rehearsals. Model responsibility. Do what you say you will do. Value their presence. If they have a bell to ring, a solo to sing, or lines to read, they need to be at rehearsals. When kids are given this responsibility, they help their parents be more faithful and committed to your great organization!
- Attention Span and Discipline! A child’s age can be an indicator of his attention span in minutes. A nine year-old child can focus for about nine minutes, then it’s time to mix it up. If kids are talking, you may need to move at a faster pace or take a breather. Remind them of the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23, emphasizing self control ☺
- Love What You Do! Talk the talk & walk the walk! If you love the hymnology of our faith, they’ll witness it! If you love kids and want to see them grow in their faith, they’ll witness it! If you sing with your heart and pray with your voice, they’ll witness that, too!
These are a few ideas to having a beautiful and fantastic Christmas Pageant. It can be a pre-curser to starting a Youth Choir. Remind them you can’t wait for them to come chant with you in a few years at the chanter’s stand or in the choir. Make that connection for them now and they will, in turn, connect to our Holy Orthodox Church the rest of their lives!