We’re all so used to the classic nativity scene, so maybe your church is ready for something a bit different this year? In this blog are just a few ideas for how to freshen up your church nativity that all ages can get involved in.
Why not have a go at including the names of chocolates and sweets into your nativity story? Read the nativity story from the front as most people would expect, but add in chocolate or sweets brand name puns wherever you can! When you do, throw them out towards the congregation for them to catch.
For example: “Mary and Joseph were in a bit of a ‘crunchie’ situation”, or “it was a time of huge celebration”. Alongside this, you could either read out the Christmas story, or act out the nativity with these lines added in wherever appropriate! If nothing else, this fun little feature will open the ears of your audience as they listen out for the names of sweet treats to be spoken, and will hopefully provide a memorable experience. This idea is sure to be a popular one!
Dot your nativity story Characters around your church auditorium, sat amongst the congregation. As the Nativity story is read from the front of the church on the stage, whenever a new character is introduced, they get up from their seat and walk to the front. As each character does this, it slowly starts to build the classic Nativity picture freeze frame. This could be just a slight alteration to your nativity play (characters starting off spread out seated with the congregation opposed to already on stage) but makes it a bit different and interesting.
If you wanted to take this idea even further, how about having your characters say their lines as they’re sitting or as they make their way towards the front? You could even get your characters to interact with the rest of the congregation, for example, the wise men or shepherds could be asking for directions to find the saviour of the world! This might come as a bit of a surprise to your congregation, which usually makes things more memorable.
If you’d prefer to have a more informal style yet equally informational and engaging nativity for your children this year, why not try something completely different? This idea is aimed more specifically for children and young people as an engaging way to get them asking questions and talking about the Christmas story, but is also a great way to get the adults involved too.
Ask for some adult volunteers from your church congregation to become different characters from the christmas story, and place them in different rooms or corners of your auditorium/church hall. Lead your children around the church and let them hear the Christmas story from each of the different characters’ perspectives. Encourage your actors to stay in character throughout and really own it, and be prepared to answer the questions the young people may ask them!
This is a really unique opportunity for children to gain a deeper understanding of the story from the perspectives of the characters, allowing them to put themselves in their shoes.
Allocate a bit of space outside your church or in your church car park and set up a nativity scene with real life representations of each character. Ask for volunteers to simply act as a character from the nativity story (Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, Wise men etc) and have them remain in the scene. If your church has recently had a new baby addition and their parents are up for it, having the young family pose as Mary, Joseph and Jesus can be an especially nice and realistic touch.
Depending on how long you’d like your live nativity to be going on for, if you’d like your scene to be around for an extended time you could even have two sets of each character and allow the second group to take over after a while. Position your scene ideally where there is likely to be the most footfall from the general public, this is especially effective if your church is located centrally to your town/village/city.
This is something completely different from just a model or picture nativity outside your church, and will certainly get people thinking as they walk past. This nativity idea is a great way to reach your community in a way that a usual nativity may not, so why not give it a go this year.
We hope you find these ideas useful as you prepare for your church’s nativity this year, but whatever it is you do, we’d encourage you to give time for the actual story to have space. It’s fun to be different and alternative, but don’t stray so far away from the truth of the story that it becomes lost. We pray that through this year’s nativity, your congregation would have a deeper understanding of the Christmas story.