Visual Faith Coach Laura Bauer explains her heart for sharing visual faith with teens:
As a teenager, I have very vivid memories of waking up in the morning and stumbling into the kitchen to find my father sitting at the table with his Bible open. At the time I did not think anything special of it, but looking back now I view this memory as a precious gift. My parents diligently took us to church every Sunday morning as many families do, but finding my dad sitting regularly immersed in the word of Christ throughout the week reaffirmed the knowledge that Christ and the Bible were not simply a program that parents dumped their children at once a week, but rather the place to find Truth in a world that felt tumultuous. My dad didn’t just give Christ lip service, Christ is his foundation and therefore spending time daily in the word was natural for Him.
Sitting at the table with my Bible and colored pencils is becoming a more common thing in my home and more often than not, when I am working on a journal entry or a page in my Bible, one of my four children will approach me and ask if they can Bible journal alongside me. My teens many times do not ask to join in, they simply grab some supplies and sit down.
Activities that are multi-generational and enjoyable regardless of your gender are very hard to find, but visual faith seems to be just that. We often joke that as adults we need an invitation to color, the same can sometimes be said of teenagers. So many teens have such amazing artistic talent and simply need an invitation to use it.
The great thing about visual faith is that it busies the hands which frees up the mind for meditation on a verse or even deep conversation with another individual. A teen may not spend time meditating on a verse alone or working on a journal entry by themselves. Many teens will be quick to jump at the opportunity to sit with an admired adult free of phones and social media and chat while illustrating a verse. As an adult and parent it is so easy to convince ourselves that our teenagers really do not want anything to do with us. In some cases this may be true, but for the most part I truly believe that most teenagers long to know that the adults in their life have time for them and a desire to spend that time with them.
At Redeemer in Interlochen, we have attempted to add visual faith periodically to our youth group lessons sometimes on their own and sometimes combined with adults. It does not take much encouraging to convince teenagers to grab some art supplies and illustrate a verse whether at home or at church!
During a lesson on learning how to study the Bible, we created accordian books and filled the inside with ideas and directions about where to begin. On one side the youth included questions to ask themselves when looking at a section of scripture: Are there other verses that apply to my understanding of this passage? Who was the author and the audience? What is the theme? Are there any key words or verbs? What people and places are talked about? When does this take place? What, if any, challenges are faced? How does this apply to me?
On the other side, the kids came up with topics that they would be interested in studying, such as: anger, conflict, money, dating, love, animals, and friendship. The idea behind the accordian books is that it would be something they could use as a guideline when they want to spend time in God’s Word, but have no idea where to begin.
As with any visual faith practice, the best way to encourage others to join is by doing it yourself in a visible fashion. When you exude excitement about an activity, that excitement becomes contagious and others naturally want to be part of it!
Give teens permission and encouragement to color and illustrate verses and you will find that the verses that they take the time to work with will work their way into a permanent spot in the teenagers mind and heart which will later be useful when the world threatens to distract him or her from Christ. The youth in your life whether they are your children, grandchildren or friends are watching you and learning how to be adults.
Most teenagers will never come right out and say it, but they long for deep solid relationships with adults as well as other teens. Visual faith can be a marvelous bridge between our youth, adults and even older members of the congregation.
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Laura is mother to four energetic children, wife of an adventurous LCMS pastor, and a baptized child of God. With background as a DCE (Director of Christian Education) and in Elementary education, she was introduced to Bible journaling in 2016 and has been amazed at the depth and richness it has added to her devotional time and prayer life. Creative - but not necessarily artistic - Laura enjoys working with groups of all sizes to share practical ways that even the “artistically challenged” can benefit from and experience the hope and peace that comes by spending time in God's word. She is also excited to share ways that families and youth can use visual faith to grow closer to each other and more importantly to Christ.