Visual Faith in the Congregational Setting

My name is Garet Ellis and I am the pastor of a new church plant, Christ Community Lutheran Church –Leesburg- and Leesburg Open Arms in Virginia.. I was recently asked to write about some of the ways we are incorporating “visual arts” into our worship and school communities.  Now, from the outset, I must say that it is hilarious that I am writing in a forum such as this. I have a great appreciation for the arts in all of their forms. But if I am being honest, I have zero talent when it comes to art. My stick figures are lopsided. My coloring is abysmal. And my ability to draw is as good as my ability to speak Mandarin Chinese; I can’t do either.  Now when we study the Scriptures, look at creation, and learn about God, we see that there is a rich creativity in the One who is the creator of all things. Consider the tulip. It is (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful flowers out there, a sure sign that winter is over and spring is here. Had I been tasked with creating the tulip, there would have only been one color. But God, in His infinite wisdom and beauty, decided to paint the tulips of the field with all of the colors of the rainbow.  But unfortunately, and I am guilty of this too, sometimes we take the creative beauty of God and hide it. Like my single-colored tulip, we sometimes don’t allow the full beauty of God to be expressed. We make God to be one dimensional and rather simple.  So knowing this about myself, knowing that I prefer to be a bullet-point teacher, and knowing that we live in a hyper-visual world, it is important to me to offer a variety of ways for people to see, hear, touch, and experience the love and grace of God. This, I think, is the fundamental role of churches and pastors. And so this idea plays out in a variety of ways in my personal and professional life. I’d like to highlight 3 ways that this has come to life in my new congregation and school.

My name is Garet Ellis and I am the pastor of a new church plant, Christ Community Lutheran Church –Leesburg- and Leesburg Open Arms in Virginia.. I was recently asked to write about some of the ways we are incorporating “visual arts” into our worship and school communities.

Now, from the outset, I must say that it is hilarious that I am writing in a forum such as this. I have a great appreciation for the arts in all of their forms. But if I am being honest, I have zero talent when it comes to art. My stick figures are lopsided. My coloring is abysmal. And my ability to draw is as good as my ability to speak Mandarin Chinese; I can’t do either.

Now when we study the Scriptures, look at creation, and learn about God, we see that there is a rich creativity in the One who is the creator of all things. Consider the tulip. It is (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful flowers out there, a sure sign that winter is over and spring is here. Had I been tasked with creating the tulip, there would have only been one color. But God, in His infinite wisdom and beauty, decided to paint the tulips of the field with all of the colors of the rainbow.

But unfortunately, and I am guilty of this too, sometimes we take the creative beauty of God and hide it. Like my single-colored tulip, we sometimes don’t allow the full beauty of God to be expressed. We make God to be one dimensional and rather simple.

So knowing this about myself, knowing that I prefer to be a bullet-point teacher, and knowing that we live in a hyper-visual world, it is important to me to offer a variety of ways for people to see, hear, touch, and experience the love and grace of God. This, I think, is the fundamental role of churches and pastors. And so this idea plays out in a variety of ways in my personal and professional life. I’d like to highlight 3 ways that this has come to life in my new congregation and school.


The Illuminated Catechism   I have enjoyed this book by Tony Cook and Susan Spellman and used it in a variety of instances throughout my years of ministry. When I got to Leesburg, they would occasionally have a staff Bible study. I was able to teach it for a while, so I bought everyone who wanted to participate a copy of  The Illuminated Catechism . This became a fun tool to be able to teach them about God and for them to grow in their faith and knowledge of Him.

The Illuminated Catechism

I have enjoyed this book by Tony Cook and Susan Spellman and used it in a variety of instances throughout my years of ministry. When I got to Leesburg, they would occasionally have a staff Bible study. I was able to teach it for a while, so I bought everyone who wanted to participate a copy of The Illuminated Catechism. This became a fun tool to be able to teach them about God and for them to grow in their faith and knowledge of Him.


The Enduring Word Bible   We launched our new congregation on September 08, 2019. But before that, we hosted a “Back 2 School Bibles, Brunch, ‘n Bonanza”. We invited to community to come celebrate the start of a new school year and lift our students, teachers, schools up in prayer. And we gave away tons of Bibles.

The Enduring Word Bible

We launched our new congregation on September 08, 2019. But before that, we hosted a “Back 2 School Bibles, Brunch, ‘n Bonanza”. We invited to community to come celebrate the start of a new school year and lift our students, teachers, schools up in prayer. And we gave away tons of Bibles.


We gave away regular Bibles to the adults and  The Growing in Faith Bible Storybook  (I highly recommend this book) to all of our children. We also received a wonderful donation of unique Bibles and books to raffle off to the adults and children.

We gave away regular Bibles to the adults and The Growing in Faith Bible Storybook (I highly recommend this book) to all of our children. We also received a wonderful donation of unique Bibles and books to raffle off to the adults and children.

The number one hit was  The Enduring Word Bible . We are now looking into ways to give this Bible as a Christmas gift to our school administrator and staff who were all hoping to win one.

The number one hit was The Enduring Word Bible. We are now looking into ways to give this Bible as a Christmas gift to our school administrator and staff who were all hoping to win one.


“Create” center   I wanted the new congregation to spend the Sunday before our launch in prayer and praise of God. I wanted to offer a chance for us to bring our anxieties, worries, requests, and praises to God. But I needed it to fit our environment.  You see, our congregation is partners with Leesburg Open Arms, a Christian childcare development center. And so our space is a blend of coffee house and preschool. We have tables, snacks, and beverages for the adults and kids. And on any given Sunday, there might be children’s artwork on the walls. Children are present and participating in worship. And so to engage with prayer in this environment is a little different than it would be if we were in a cathedral.

“Create” center

I wanted the new congregation to spend the Sunday before our launch in prayer and praise of God. I wanted to offer a chance for us to bring our anxieties, worries, requests, and praises to God. But I needed it to fit our environment.

You see, our congregation is partners with Leesburg Open Arms, a Christian childcare development center. And so our space is a blend of coffee house and preschool. We have tables, snacks, and beverages for the adults and kids. And on any given Sunday, there might be children’s artwork on the walls. Children are present and participating in worship. And so to engage with prayer in this environment is a little different than it would be if we were in a cathedral.

I have used resources from the Visual Faith site before and I thought these would be cool to use again. And people engaged. People who weren’t there lamented that they couldn’t participate. So we decided to create a “Create” shelf. It’s a place where you can pick up different prayer cards, art pieces, and drawing tools and you are encouraged to bring them into worship with you. It has been a hit so far.  This has been an interesting journey so far. Engaging with art is not my “normal” in life. I appreciate it. I support it. I want to equip people to experience their faith in God in a variety of ways.

I have used resources from the Visual Faith site before and I thought these would be cool to use again. And people engaged. People who weren’t there lamented that they couldn’t participate. So we decided to create a “Create” shelf. It’s a place where you can pick up different prayer cards, art pieces, and drawing tools and you are encouraged to bring them into worship with you. It has been a hit so far.

This has been an interesting journey so far. Engaging with art is not my “normal” in life. I appreciate it. I support it. I want to equip people to experience their faith in God in a variety of ways.


Thank you for reading this. If you have suggestions or ideas you would like to share with me, I would love it.  I want to better engage our teachers and school staff with different visual faith pieces. I want to support our children in their faith life. So send your ideas to: pastor@christcommunityleesburg.org.

Thank you for reading this. If you have suggestions or ideas you would like to share with me, I would love it. I want to better engage our teachers and school staff with different visual faith pieces. I want to support our children in their faith life. So send your ideas to: pastor@christcommunityleesburg.org.