Holiday Family Challenge2 min read

The time before Christmas is often chaotic, and Advent preparations can get overlooked. At St. Paul, Hamburg we decided to find a way to encourage families to slow down by creating a Family Holiday Challenge. The challenge is designed as a competition where families earn a series of points by completing various missions. Some of the missions are designed specifically for parents, others for kids, and another category is to be completed by parents and kids together. Our hope was to create a fun approach to faith conversations, inspiring families to work together during the Advent season by saying NO to events that they feel pressured to do because they are “amazing” at Christmas time. Families are encouraged to say yes ONLY to meaningful events that focus on the holiday and that bring the whole family together.

Inspired by an idea from the We Are Kid Min blog, we adapted the challenge for our individual congregation by adding aspects pertaining specifically to our Lutheran heritage, such as lighting the advent wreath and gathering together once a week during Advent for family devotions created specifically for the challenge. The idea has gotten positive feedback from parents, kids, and grandparents in our congregation—all hoping to win! We designated two winners for our challenge: the team with the most points earned and a team that will be randomly chosen from the completed forms.

Here’s how the challenge works: Families were given a poster listing various missions to be completed from December 1–January 6. Missions were designed to benefit families physically, emotionally, and spiritually, offering a wide menu of options.

Everyone gets into the action. For example, parents can earn points for taking a nap, going for a walk, or talking about Christmas memories. Kids might write thank you cards, pray for missionaries, memorize a Bible verse, compliment siblings, and the like.

Missions for parents and kids to complete together include activities like using an Advent wreath in family devotion, watch a Christmas movie, going on a family walk, hike, or bike ride, and finding a service opportunity to do together. One church member said, “Thanks for encouraging us to use our Advent wreath again. I won it as a door prize.”

While some of the missions are silly, most of them are designed to keep the family together during the Advent season, while providing opportunities to have “God talk,” serve others, or be together without being busy. For more information about the Family Holiday Challenge or to see the missions in detail, follow this link.

Photo (c) Pearl/Lightstock

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About the Author

Miriam Yakimow is Director of Family Ministry at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamburg. Her family moved to Michigan in 2017 so her husband could take a call as Professor of Theology at Concordia University Ann Arbor. She enjoys connecting faith at church with faith at home, and loves seeing when various faith milestones inspire families to make connections in the home.

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