I’ve heard variations of the same Christmas messages over and over again. We want to keep Christ in Christmas. We want to make sure preteens know that Christmas isn’t the consumer experience that the marketing machine tries to tell us that it is.

But here’s the thing.

They already know that.

Anyone who’s seen a Christmas movie has heard a message about the real meaning of Christmas.

A selfish character wants a thing, goes on a magical adventure, and then learns the “true meaning of Christmas.”

It’s better to give than receive.

Christmas is about being with the people you love.

Christmas is about generosity.

It goes on and on and on like this. Positive, moral messages, that sound nice, look great in print…

…and are still totally wrong.

When you’re trying to help preteens understand the real meaning of Christmas, it’s not Jesus versus consumerism.

It’s Jesus versus a bunch of morally good things that are still way less than Jesus, and that’s a tougher conversation to have, because you don’t get to compare good things to bad things.

Instead, you have to compare good things to the Best Thing.

This is where Christian Smith’s moralistic therapeutic deism comes into stark contrast against the salvation power of Jesus Christ.

This season can’t be merely about the good and heart-warming things it brings; it has to be about the birth of a Savior.

So how do we teach on the TRUE meaning of Christmas?

Remember, all of those other Christmas messages – family time, generosity, thankfulness – are messages of the Bible, just not the most important message of the Bible.

Leaving Christmas with a focus on any ONE of those things would be like determining that the message of Scripture is about not coveting your neighbor’s wife.

Sure, it’s in there, but that’s not the main thing.

The single best way that I’ve found to share the Christmas story is to make sure that preteens know that Jesus demands to be a part of all of the other heart-warming messages of Christmas.

Generosity is good.

Generosity in Jesus’ name is better.

Family time is good.

Family time that invokes the name of Jesus is better.

Thankfulness is good.

Thankfulness to Jesus is better.

Christmas with Jesus is the best. Christmas without Jesus, no matter how good it is, just isn’t Christmas.

Written by Aaron Helman, who has been in youth ministry for over 15 years and is currently a youth pastor in South Bend, Indiana.


  • Lynn McBride
    6 years ago

    Thank you Aaron, this helps. We have 2 ptrettens!