Tag Archives: Phil Vischer

Where we got the name “Christmas”


Where we got the name “Christmas”

WITB Tour: The Tricky Bits of Christmas

Have you ever wondered where the name Christmas comes from?  And… why don’t we just call it “Jesus’ birthday-day”?

Today, I get to talk a little about an amazing resource that’s coming out this holiday season.  Each year, I come across some tricky questions from the kids at my church, and even the kids who live at my house, as Christmas approaches.  Questions about Santa, the date of Christmas, some more questions about Santa, what the deal is with Christmas trees, and… yes… more questions about Santa.  I’d imagine that, if you’re a parent or work with children at your church, you face some of these same questions every year.

Well, I just happen to be friends with someone on a team who has developed a new tool for parents and church leaders to answer some of those hard questions surrounding Christmas.  The guys and gals who produce What’s In The Bible?  are launching a new resource this holiday season called Why Do We Call it Christmas (You can order the series at this link).  At the end of this post, I’ll tell you how you can win a FREE copy of this resource.

I’ve been asked to tackle some of the tricky bits that surround the lesson about where the name “Christmas” comes from.  It’s probably one of the lesser controversial lessons in the series (tackling the Santa thing sure sounds tricky, but the WITB team actually did it better than I’ve EVER seen), but it’s an important question that I want my own children, and the children in my church, to have the ability to answer.  Christmas is kind of a big deal, our kids should be able to talk about it from a place of understanding… and their answers should sound a bit different than the other answers on the playground at school.

When we work through this series at Glenkirk in the coming weeks (and at my house with my own kids), I’ll be giving my volunteers and church parents a head’s up about some of the trickier parts of this lesson.  The things I cover will probably look a little something like this:

For Volunteers and Parents

  1. In explaining the origin of the name “Christmas,” the video talks a bit about Communion.  Be ready to answer questions about what Communion is and why we take communion.  At our church, Communion is something that we celebrate once a month… but, be ready to explain to kids that some churches take communion more often and some take it less often.  At the time that Christmas originated (not when Jesus was born… but when we started celebrating Christmas on December 25), Communion was a part of each church service.  Having that information in your back pocket is going to be pretty helpful.
  2. The video talks about the fact that the holiday that started out on December 25th wasn’t Christmas.  You should be comfortable talking about this and shouldn’t shy away from the history of the date.  Try asking the kids in your group or in your family what day their birthday is on and if they’d change the day they celebrate it, if they could.  For example, my birthday is on December 27th and I’d change the day I celebrate it in a heartbeat.  I’ve lost count of how many “Christmabirthday” presents I’ve gotten over the years.  I think I’d want to celebrate my birthday in early May, if I had the choice.  Or maybe February.  How about you?
  3. When explaining the history of the holiday, it’s easy to talk less and less about the actual Christmas story.  Make sure that you point your discussion back to the birth of Jesus if it begins straying too far away.  If we spend a whole lesson talking about Christmas and forget to talk about God sending his Son to rescue us, we’re failing.  We should make sure that we make a big deal out of what we celebrate at Christmas.

Ok, here’s how to win your own copy ($79.00 value).  You can enter for the drawing by sharing this post on Facebook or Twitter and by sending me an email at aprince(at)  Your email should include a quick story about how you handle (or how your parents handled) talking about Santa in your home.  This post isn’t about Santa… but I’m working on one and would love to use some of your stories (I’ll keep them anonymous, I promise).

Write to me, tell me about Santa, share this link and I’ll choose the winner next Tuesday, Nov.15, and post your name here on the blog.


Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Kidmin, Resources


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5 People to Meet in Twenty10: Phil Vischer

Name: Phil Vischer

Location: Wheaton, IL


Claim to fame: (source:

Phil Vischer (born 1966 in Muscatine, Iowa) is an American voice actor, writer and filmmaker. He is well known for co-creating the award-winning VeggieTales with Mike Nawrocki the co-founder of Big Idea Productions. Phil was eight years old when he made his first animated film.

He has been working with Big Idea Productions since 1996. He has worked as writer, producer and voice actor for the series. In 2003 Big Idea Productions dissolved and was sold to Entertainment Rights. He still works on the Veggietales videos with the new company, Big Idea, Inc. Since leaving Big Idea, Vischer has started a new creative shop called Jellyfish Labs where he and a small team work to produce faith-based media for children and families. Vischer and Jellyfish are based in Wheaton, Illinois. As of 2009, he also still works with Big Idea on a contract basis, writing scripts and performing many of the voices for new VeggieTales productions.

He is currently working in Wheaton, Illinois as founder and owner of JellyTelly and Jellyfish Labs where he is working as President of the company that produces Christian products.

Why We Care:

Phil took an idea and made it an iconic presence in the world of Children’s Ministry and Church Culture.
We take a giant wooden cut-out of Bob the Tomato to the LA County Fair every year and let over a thousand kids throw bags of candy through holes we cut into it.  Nobody, anywhere in the United States, is taking an idea I had and turning it into a carnival game.
Phil took a simple concept (communicating the Bible to children in a relevant and engaging format) and took it far beyond the cutting-edge Jesus flannel graphs that dominated Christian education in the 1980’s and are still found in Sunday School classes today.  I’d love to sit down with Phil and hear what he thinks is coming next and how we’re going to get there.  Have you heard of his new project – What’s In the Bible?  It’s genius.  I’ve seen a bunch of his JellyTelly stuff and, I have to admit, I’m a fan of what he’s got going on.  Swing by and check out The Pirate’s Guide to Church History.  It’s awesome.


Where do guys like Phil fit into your list?  Any guesses what the chances are that I can run into Phil in 2010?
If you have connections that get me a coffee-date, I’ll make sure you get a shout out when I post about meeting the man behind VeggieTales.


Posted by on November 24, 2009 in Kidmin


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