Youth Group Movie Discussion: Elf

Please feel free to use this, other youth people. (I’d appreciate if you let me know in the comments…that you did use it, and, even better, if it worked.) I know the next few weeks can get a little out of hand!!!

We are planning to use this with our youth group in small groups for a 20 minute discussion after a scheduled viewing of Elf this Sunday.


(Especially for leaders, for the group if you think its appropriate and there’s time)
I was shopping for some Christmas decorations in Hobby Lobby this past week, and I noticed that there were ornaments, and snow globes, and other things that portrayed Santa Claus kneeling at the foot of the manger.

At first, this struck me as a really bizarre scene. But then, I thought about it, and remembered that, of course, Santa is based on Saint Nicholas, the 4th century Bishop of the city of Myra (in what is today Turkey). The story goes that Nicholas was an incredibly generous man, and once secretly placed gold in the stockings of three young women whose families were too poor to pull together dowries for them. December 6 is the feast of St. Nicholas. In some countries, December 5 is the night when you put out a shoe or boot in expectation of gifts from saint Nicholas arriving in the morning.

The historical Nicholas was a true servant of Jesus Christ, and, even though he wasn’t in Bethlehem when Jesus was born, had he been, he would have been kneeling at the manger to worship Jesus!

Some Christians are so disturbed by what Santa represents today that they have tried to get rid of him. But maybe there’s a middle way. The ornament with Santa kneeling in front of Jesus is a little weird, but not a bad reminder that many of our Christmas traditions in “the world” outside of church are based on Christian belief.

Elf is a great movie to use as a jumping point to discuss the ways in which some of our “worldly” ideas about Christmas come from and actually support our Christian beliefs about the season.

Christmas in Elf/Christmas in Church

Take a few minutes to brainstorm and agree on a list of the 5 most important meanings of Christmas in Elf. Switch gears and try to come up with the 5 most important meanings of Christmas that you learn from church. Do any of them match? Do any of them conflict? How are the same? How are they different?

A Child Shall Lead Them

This is Isaiah’s vision of the new kingdom that Jesus will bring to earth. It’s traditionally read in church during Advent. (Also the sermon text from church this morning!!!)

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11

Where do you see the following themes in the passage:
The mean and the meek living together in peace
The innocence of children as guides
Other themes that stick out at you?

Where are these themes reflected in Elf?

Buddy’s Outlook on Life

Compare Buddy’s outlook on life to the following passage:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4

Other Bible passages that could relate to the ideas in Elf…

Feel free to work with these if you have time or it anyone in group seems interested in one of these topics…or it one really inspires you during the film!!


For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God Romans 8

Childlike Faith

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. Matthew 18

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 John 3

Gifts and Giving

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 2 Corinthians 9


Compare this passage to the ideas about the Claus-O-Meter…is it harder for us to believe in something we can’t see than it was for people a long time ago to believe in what they could not see?

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. Hebrews 11
How do ideas in the movie about sin, repentance, and forgiveness (i.e. the “Naughty List”) fit with Christian ideas about these things?

Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books.

Revelation 20

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.
As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children
Psalm 103