It happens almost every year. One kid comes to children’s church with a personal mission to prove Santa is not real. Besides the disruption, it creates a situation where one child is calling someone’s mom a liar. That’s why my friend Tony Kummer called to order a special Christmas edition of our Think Tank.
How do you handle the whole issue of Santa Claus in your ministry? How would you redirect a group of children at church who are debating his existence? What advice would you give Christan parents & grandparents about Santa?
This was the question for the December edition of the Children’s Ministry Think Tank. Here is the response that Fletcher Lang and I put together for the discussion. You can follow the responses of other Children's Ministry leaders here.
Response from Jared Kennedy and Fletcher Lang:
There’s no way around it, pretty much every kid in America is going to know about Santa Claus. Thanks to Coca-Cola, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and mall atriums everywhere, the jolly ole’ man in red is a cultural Christmas staple who probably isn’t going away any time soon. But as Christian parents or Sunday School teachers, is it a good idea for us to teach our kids that Santa Claus is coming to town?
I think we’ll all agree that during the Advent season, it’s our job to teach kids about the true meaning of Christmas—that Christmas is about Jesus’ incarnation and birth as a baby in Bethlehem. It is about God saving people created in his own image by coming to earth Himself as a man. As long as the incarnated Jesus is the focus of our stories and celebrations, we think it’s okay to tell your kids about Santa – after all, unless they’ve been completely sheltered from the culture, they probably already know.
Here are two key things to consider when teaching kids about Santa Claus:
1) Teach kids the legend of St. Nicholas. Nicholas was a real man who did many good things, and we do well to celebrate his life. Here’s a good article by Pastor Mark Driscoll that tells about Nicholas’ life in plain language.
2) Remind kids that they’ll never be good all the time! Santa is not our judge, but if he were and he really was making a list, none of us would be on his “nice” list. Let’s be honest, we’re all still naughty deep down in our hearts. But there has been One who made it on the “nice” list. Jesus, being born of a virgin in a little manger in Bethlehem, was the only person who made it onto God’s “nice” list. And we have hope because, through faith in Him, God has made it possible for us to be added to that list as well! He sees us in all our sin, but He still gives us His good and perfect gifts. So the next time a group of kids are arguing over Santa’s existence, try to point them to Jesus by saying, “If Santa is real, could you really make it onto his nice list?” and by reminding them that Jesus is the true reason for the season.