Undoubtedly, all parents who take their child to Sunday school regularly receive an arsenal of art projects; three-dimensional paper puppets, craft stick crosses and glitter masks that shed on the pews before being abandoned under the backseat.
Research shows that every individual learns differently. Many children grasp concepts better through tactile and visual projects. Here are some ideas you can encourage in your children’s education department. They will require support from church leadership.
Enhance the experience of children’s choir.
Buy inexpensive canvases available in multi-packs at arts-and-crafts stores. Make sure you buy a large enough canvas (at least 8.5 x 11 inches) because children tend to overestimate the amount of space they will need for their art. Have the children choose their favorite song and ask them to paint either:
- The main idea (for instance, the Nativity scene in "Away in a Manger"); or
- Their favorite part of the song (such as “The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay”).
Integrate art into Sunday school.
Again using canvases, have children bring the Bible to life by:
- Painting or sketching a favorite Bible story or character (Joseph and his coat of many colors would be fun!)
- Using special stencils, lettering and colors to write and illustrate a favorite Bible verse.
Introduce art into your church’s Sunday school area.
Find a professional artist in your congregation or community to sketch a large mural in your elementary Sunday school area. Ask him or her to designate which colors should be used (almost like paint by numbers). Then enlist the help of older children to do the painting. This mural is sure to be a sentimental source of pride for those children as they mature.
Incorporate art with music.
For a different exercise, set up mini-easels in the education area. Play some of United Methodism’s powerful songs such as “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” and “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” — both by Charles Wesley — and ask the children to paint what they feel. Encourage them to express thankfulness, awe, joy and sadness through color and images. Abstract artwork can be a powerful expression of human emotions as well as a moving testimony to one’s faith.
Enjoy a parade with confirmation banners.
Have each year’s confirmands work together to illustrate their group’s favorite Bible verse on a large banner. Parade this banner in on Confirmation Sunday. After a few years, your church will have enough banners for a representative from each class to carry the banner into the sanctuary, in remembrance of their class’s confirmation.
Enlist children’s help with set decoration.
You can count on having a few kids who absolutely will not wear a costume or be in the Christmas or Easter pageant; yet they’ll readily create sets from boxes, paint decorations or operate the lights for the play or pageant. By giving them this opportunity, you encourage them to express their faith creatively.
Make sure these artistic endeavors don’t go the route of that discarded Sunday school project. Display the canvases on a wall in a prominent area of your church building. Let the children see that you admire their faith and value their creativity.
Through these artistic pursuits, you will help your church’s youngest express their feelings about God and the church. Just as importantly, you will demonstrate your congregation’s love for them.