Many student groups engage in various Christmas projects each year. In fact, lots of beneficial projects happen annually. Unfortunately, these projects, while they serve a good cause, are typically short-lived and unchallenging. In other words, most are simply too easy. Here’s a way to help your students engage in a project that centers on developing a sacrificial spirit for more than a couple of hours. This project targets the development of a sacrificial lifestyle, the formation of servanthood, and the birth of the courage necessary to combat consumerism during the most commercialized season of the year.

1. To start, think of at least 12 ideas/ways your teens can exhibit a sacrificial attitude during the Christmas season. Bring your top teens together for this, letting them brainstorm various possibilities with you. Sending cards, visiting hospitals, delivering food, collecting coats and gloves, baby sitting, and cleaning houses are just a few ideas. Remember — the more the merrier!

2. With the list before you, encourage your students to select 12, adopting these ideas as their “12 Days Of Christmas” service project. Ideally, the 12 ideas that comprise this project should be the student’s choice. However, you may need to help with appointments, transportation, arrangements, etc. if duty calls for it. Of course, let them take the initiative and do the bulk of the work. Otherwise, it’s simply your project with their name on it. Additionally, all involved should start on the same day: December 13. Following this format enables everyone to wrap up his or her 12 individual ideas on Christmas Eve.

3. Beginning December 13th, each student participating in this effort works toward this goal: Accomplish one sacrificial project each day, with an eye to finishing all 12 by Christmas Eve.

4. Each student is to try and do three things each day, but in reality the first one is the one that matters most:

a. Accomplish the specified service project/idea.

b. Call another student on the team and share their experience, listening in return for the blessing received by the other student. This also aids in accountability.

c. Chart their progress and impact by journaling. Students who write down meaningful experiences typically benefit from them longer.

A project of this nature does so much to help young people develop sacrificial habits and attitudes that start becoming part of their lifestyle. After all, isn’t that we’re after — believers who sacrifice year round, not just during the Yuletide season?

HINT: Make this project a volunteer-based effort; don’t force kids to be involved. Because you’re trying to instill attitudes and build habits, ask for only the ones willing to work hard at sacrifice. This will take more than the desire to look good in front of the youth pastor and more than the need to gain a holiday “feel-good” before they open up their 19 Christmas gifts. Once the serious have volunteered, meet together and charge!

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