Jesus Means Christmas to Me is part of the Simple Series for Kids and is designed to be stage ready in about eight weeks. Below is an eight-week rehearsal schedule. If you’re allotting more time for the rehearsal process, add the additional weeks at the end for polishing the entire musical or insert the extra weeks into this schedule at points where you deem you need more work. Have suggestions for the rehearsals or performance? Be sure and comment below!
Decorate one wall or bulletin board with the words “JESUS MEANS” along the top and “TO ME” along the bottom. Leave a large space in the center. Each week the kids will write praises, prayers, and verses on post-it notes. The post-it notes (extra post-its filled in by you and your team to complete the letter) will be placed on the board or wall to make the letters of the word “CHRISTMAS.” Another option is to put up a couple of letters each week and have the kids write on the letters or attach their post-it notes to the large letters.
Listen to the entire musical. Rehearse “Emmanuel.” What names for Jesus can they find in the lyrics? Talk about what each name means. Sing the song again. Teach the memory verses (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 9:6). Discuss with the students things they can do to keep Jesus the focus of Christmas. Discuss the schedule and overall plan for the musical. Have the students add their notes to make the letter “C.”
Warm up with “Emmanuel.” If you’re using the word boxes described in the production notes, you should have them at this rehearsal and have the students work with them. Do not expect to master it in this rehearsal but begin to work on the technique and timing. Teach “Jesus Means Christmas to Me.” Review memory verses and teach new verses (John 1:14; Hebrews 12:1b-2a). Let the students write their responses, praises, prayers, etc. on their post-it notes and make the letters “H” and “R” if needed. Sing through both songs again. Pray together.
Warm up with “Jesus Means Christmas to Me.” Review “Emmanuel” with boxes. Teach “Angels, From the Realms of Glory.” Review memory verses and teach new verses (1 Chronicles 16:29; Psalm 86:9). Sing through all the songs again. Add notes to the board to form the letters “I” and “S.” Pray together.
Warm up with the refrain of “Angels, From the Realms of Glory.” Review the entire song. Teach “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.” Review “Jesus Means Christmas to Me” and “Emmanuel.” Review memory verses. Teach memory verses (Isaiah 41:13; Luke 2:14). Continue spelling “CHRISTMAS” on the wall by having the kids write post-it notes, adding to any unfinished letters, and making the letter “T.” Pray together.
Warm up with “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.” Review and polish the song that needs the most work. Sing through “Emmanuel” (with the props) at least once. Teach “Sing We Now of Christmas.” Teach the memory verses (2 Samuel 22:50; Psalm 33:1). Sing “Jesus Means Christmas to Me.” If the shepherds have already rehearsed the rhythmic movement with their staffs, let them practice while you sing “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” one more time. Have students write notes, prayers, praises, etc. on post-it notes and form the letter “M” on the wall. Pray together.
Use the rehearsal time to review and polish all music. Fix any trouble spots and give the kids specific instructions on what they should work on at home for the next rehearsal. Sing through all songs that have choreography or movement from singers or actors. Make sure all props are available for this rehearsal and every remaining rehearsal. Make sure everyone knows where they are moving and what they should be doing. Block out the movement then run it with the music twice to reinforce it. Review memory verses. Have kids write prayers, praises, blessings, etc., on post-it notes to form the letter “A” on the wall. Sing a favorite song. Pray together.
Run the musical twice after the first run-through. Give notes and instructions. Fix any musical, movement, or blocking problems. Go through the musical again. If there is time, start and stop each song. Review memory verses. Have kids write prayers, praises, blessings, etc. and form the letter “S” on the wall. Pray together.
Run the musical twice. Give notes between each run-through. Work through any trouble spots again before starting the next run-through. Have the students make invitations to give to family and friends. Read some of the praises and blessings that the kids have posted on the wall. Ask kids to pray for the performance and for those who will attend. Let them pray for each other in small groups. Make sure everyone is clear on arrival times for tech and dress rehearsals and the performance(s). Send them out with a blessing.
Tech and Dress Rehearsals
If your tech needs (sound and lights) are minimal, you may not need a separate tech rehearsal. If you do not have a tech rehearsal, make sure you invite your production crew to one of your last rehearsals so they can get a sense of the musical and the needs that you have.
Have each student set their own props and costume pieces on stage before you begin. This way they will know that they have everything they need. Run the musical with no stops. Give notes and encouragement. If there is time, reset the stage and the props. Take a short break and run the musical again. Pray together and for each other.
Let the students know how excited you are to help them lead in worship. Pray for each other and celebrate Jesus with joy!