Unsurprisingly, Christmas is a very busy time for us here at crossteach . One of the key activities we run across all our areas during the Christmas season is our Christmas Experience.
Our Christmas Experienced begins with the story of Joe. For Joe Christmas is looking like bad news…, really bad news… but throughout December, students from schools across all the areas where we work, got to journey through how this ‘bad news’ for Joe turned out to be the greatest news for everyone.
crossteach , in partnership with local churches and volunteers, delivers an interactive Christmas Experience: an engaging journey of the birth of Jesus, giving students a chance to meet different characters and enact key moments from the account. The students meet Mary, King Herod and some shepherds, all the time gathering information to help them advise Joe when they take part in an episode of a talk show. The Experience ends with the chance to consider what the impact of this news really is for so many today.
As we explore this part of God’s story with the students, it is a great opportunity to teach the students about why Christians celebrate Christmas, who we believe Jesus really is and why God would come to earth as a vulnerable and poor baby. They hear the story of Mary and Joseph and we share our story too, inviting them to consider what the birth of this baby, so many years ago, means for many people today.
Schools also give us really encouraging feedback and the number of schools taking part in a crossteach Christmas experience grows every year. The students also have an opportunity to give feedback and some response. They are overwhelmingly positive and seem to really enjoy the sessions while they deepen their understanding of this Christian celebration.
The feedback we have received from this year’s Christmas experiences has been really encouraging;
“They (the students) gained an in depth understanding about the birth of Jesus and why Christians celebrate Christmas”
“Engaging, fun and informative”
“Interactive professional experience”
“I think Saviour is the most important name for Jesus so we know he can protect”
“The most important name for Jesus is Saviour because he saved people.”
Christmas Experience Statistics
Schools – 29
Sessions – 67
Volunteers – over 100
Pupils – (approx) 3,000
Churches – 15
Christmas Experience 2
This year we also ran some pilot sessions with a new Christmas Experience, aimed more specifically at Key Stage 3 students. Rather than focus on the story of Joseph and Mary and the key names people gave to the baby, this new Experience looks at the Christmas story from the perspective of the Magi. The pupils are given the task of collecting the gifts the Magi want to take for the new baby and have to complete challenges to collect the gifts. We are then able to explain the significance of these gifts and what they tell us about Jesus;
- Gold = King
- Frankincense = Priest
- Myrhh = Sacrifice (he came to die)
The students seem to engage with this just as fully as our original Christmas Experience and enjoy it just as much. It is academically more rigorous and stretched the students a bit more, challenging their misconceptions and helping them make significant progress in their understanding of why Christians celebrate Christmas and who we believe Jesus is.
Following these pilot sessions, we plan to update the resources, using the feedback received, and offer Christmas Experience 2 to every secondary school in the areas where we work. We will also make this available to churches who want to run an Experience like this with their local schools, building on the work we have already done to equip many churches to run Christmas Experiences with their local primary schools, independently of crossteach . We are delighted our resources can be used in this way, enabling many more young people to take part in these engaging and fun educational activities.
Assemblies, Carols and services
As well as Christmas Experience, our teams also have the pleasure of leading Christmas assemblies, Christmas services and carol concerts. The size of these events vary (single year group through to a whole school) and the styles are very mixed: some of the carol concerts are quite traditional and formal, whereas in some of our Christmas assemblies our workers can be seen dressed as turkeys, with nothing useful to say beyond “gobble, gobble”! No matter what the format is, or how many students are involved, each of these activities is an opportunity to open up the Christmas story in a new way and help the students improve their understanding of what Christians are celebrating at this time of year. Or, more accurately, whose birth we are celebrating and why.
The Headteacher wrote that the services
“will have served as a valuable contribution and great foundation for their [students] moral and spiritual lives.”
Please join us in praising God for the many opportunities we have during the Christmas season to teach young people about the Christian faith in schools, as we explore God’s story and share our story.
Easter is another time of year when our services and resources are in demand. In March we will be running Easter Experiences across all the areas where we work. If you would like to get involved or support this in anyway then please contact us.Please do pray for our preparations for Easter activities and that our workers would be sustained during this busy time.