What Jesus Looks Like to Me

How do we use children’s art in worship without the result looking like the local grocery store coloring contest? You know—the ones where the same Easter Bunny is colored a thousand different ways, all of the entries are pasted on the wall, and the winners just happen to be from predetermined age groups and convenient regional representations of the town/city/state/province.

I think we can improve on this idea and incorporate the Crayola contributions of our kids into worship—with dignity!

Lines Are Not Our Friends

Yes, there are kids who take great pleasure in coloring within lines. For this project, however, the lines will be minimal and the blank space wide. Here are step-by-step suggestions to prepare kids to be visually involved in worship:

1. Find yourself a teacher the kids know and trust. Resist the temptation of expecting kids to be creative with someone they’ve just met.

2. Ask, “Why do people come to church?” [To sing, to worship, to read the Bible. Accept all reasonable answers!] “Who leads this worship?” [Allow enough time for answers.] Explain that it takes many different people: the pastor, of course, but also the praise teams, the organist, the ushers, and so on.

Explain that they are going to have a chance to lead worship too—by drawing pictures that show what Jesus looks like. [Pause to let this sink in.] Then say, “Of course, we don’t know what Jesus looks like, but we see him around us—in the world God created, in nice things people do for each other, in the Bible, in each other. That’s what we’re going to draw pictures of.”

3. Hand out crayons or markers and sheets of paper with a border. Very clearly ask kids for two things: first, a picture that shows something that reminds us of Jesus, and second, their first name written clearly somewhere on the picture.

4. Once the pictures are complete, lay them out so all the kids can see each others’ work. Let the children talk about their art. Take note of these comments.

5. Scan the pictures and assemble them using your presentation software. If comments made by the children are important to understanding their pictures, you may want to include the descriptive comments on-screen in addition to the art. Run through your presentation often enough to insure that each image gets adequate screen time and that the pacing is just right.

6. Once the presentation is finished, work with the other worship leaders to smoothly weave it into the rest of the service. When you introduce the presentation to the congregation, treat the children’s art with respect. Just as you wouldn’t introduce an aged organist by commenting on her ability to still make it to the bench, you’ll want to avoid minimizing the children’s contribution by pointing out how young they are or how rough their artwork is or how cute you think it is. Let it stand for what it is.

Remember, this work is an act of worship. Give it the dignity it deserves.

Dean Heetderks is a member of Covenant Christian Reformed Church in Cutlerville, Michigan, and art director of Reformed Worship. Show and tell him about your experiences at dean.heetderks@gmail.com.

Reformed Worship 82 © December 2006, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.