You may remember me writing about a Creative Christianity Summit I attend online this summer! It was organised by Menekse Stewart who owns Cheerfully Given, an online store which sells Christian jewellery, stationary, homeware and crafting materials.
This summit literally changed my life!! Were it not for this summit I would not be writing this blog now as I simply would not have had the confidence. Prior to the course I did not believe I was capable of anything remotely artistic. I thought creativity was for those who attended art classes or designed graphics for a living. This course not only removed this false impression from my mind but replaced it with an astounding reality … wait for it!!!:-
Everyone is creative!!!
Yes, absolutely everyone!! I know many of you are shouting at me right now saying “No way, I am absolutely hopeless!”, “Yeah Right, My 2 year old child paints a better picture than I do” or “you want a word with my school art teacher and he will set you straight on that one!”
Bear with me … remember I thought like you too!! What does Scripture say? Let us look at the very first page, in fact let us look at the very first words, Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God is a creative!! Now let us look a little further on, Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” When we say we are not creative, either we doubt the creativity of God, and thus, doubt Scripture itself or we doubt that we are made in the image of God, and thus, doubt Scripture itself!!! The truth is we are God’s image bearers and God is creative, we can see that all around us! Therefore, we are all capable of creating!
If I needed further evidence of the diverse nature of creativity then this was consolidated by those involved in the summit, as many areas of creativity were catered for. Creativity is not merely painting pictures but is in everything we do!! Our lives are one long string of creativity.
Before I speak a little about crafting, let me introduce you to just a few of the guests and what I learned from them.
First up we had a daily sermon from Paul Blackham who is a minister in London. Paul’s creative talent lies in his delivery of the Word of God. He truly brings the Bible to life. His love for Jesus is so evident and his enthusiasm is something to be envied. I learned so much from his sermons but perhaps the most important was that Jesus needs to be everything in your life. Jesus wants to be your identity and will accept nothing less. Jesus wants everything or nothing! We read this in Scripture, but do we live it in our day to day lives!? Luke 14:25-27 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, even their own life-such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Being a Christian means being a Christian first and foremost. When someone asks “Who are you?”, you answer “I am a follower of Jesus” or “I am a Child of God”, not “I am a Mum”, “I am a student”, “I am a vegan”, “I’m Scottish”, “I’m a Man U Fan”. These things will all pass away, they can be taken from us at any time! Christ can never be taken from us, not in life, nor in death. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, made this point abundantly clear “The only system of thought into which Jesus Christ will fit is the one in which He is the starting point.” Jesus comes first! Everything must fit in with Jesus, we cannot try and manipulate Jesus to fit in with everything else in our lives!
A Life Coach named Breeny Lee reaffirmed to me the need to do everything for the glory of God. That one cannot be one person in one situation and another somewhere else. As a representative of Jesus, we must bring honour to Him in the way that we behave, and this should not be affected on where we are or who we are with!
Thea Muir described how she manages her negative thoughts by removing the negative cassette tape from her mind, placing this at the cross and replacing it with a Godly thought cassette tape. I find this imagery helpful in my ongoing battle with negativity! Thea began doodling as a way of tuning in to the positive affirmations of Scripture and there are many for us to find, all helpful tools to developing a positive mindset.
Kathryn Hitchings spoke about the flow zone which is fabulous for people struggling with mental health problems. This is a place of creativity when you are not really thinking about anything, just being, living in the moment. Another inspiring message was that untaught naïve art can be the most beautiful!
Martha Shrimpton of Nimbus Collective emphasised the importance of a relationship with God. I think we can often get too bogged down with the religious side of our faith, studying the Word, praying religious prayers but not ever just being with God. It is important for us to be still with God, write with Him, journal with Him, create pictures in worship to Him, have a coffee and chat with Him.
Jonathan Self made me look at everything differently. He makes photography look simple! I had never thought of cooking tea as creating before, yet Jonathan made a simple kitchen image of utensils etc look beautiful! This inspires me to take a closer look around me, to look at God’s creation with wonder instead of complacency.
I love this quote by Josie Gambel that says, “if a dream doesn’t scare you then it’s not big enough!” This is because we are not dreaming, really, we are just imagining what we could realistically achieve! When we dream of doing something that terrifies us then we are admitting we are not capable … but we are with Christ … Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
We are all unique and therefore there cannot be a one size fits all rulebook to Christianity. Not all of us are capable of sitting for 5 hours a day reading Scripture or 4 hours a day deep in prayer. With creative Christianity, there is something for everyone! For those with active minds, Bible journaling or doodling is a fantastic way to explore Scripture whilst relaxing our minds. Young children may get a deeper understanding of the Bible through painting!
It was at this summit where I first heard of Sermon Notes! This is a fantastic idea for those who have wandering thoughts in church! As the preacher is speaking draw the main idea of the sermon in the middle of your page and work out from there. Add verses, words or drawings, anything that consolidates the sermon for you. Put lines or patterns around the words and thoughts so they do not get jumbled. You can also use an iPad and procreate for this. You can draw this in pencil at church and colour when you get home. This is a great way of remembering the teaching and being able to look back at it in the future. One lady uses paints at her church!
Another way of doing this is at home using a passage of the Bible. I love doing this as it helps me memorize my Scripture and keeps me focussed on the verse. Begin by measuring out the paper carefully with a ruler so that your lettering is evenly spaced out. Write the verse out initially in pencil and when you are happy that everything is in place, go over with a brush pen. You can decorate a frame around the outside of your lettering with flowers for example.
For Sermon Notes and Simple Hand Lettering you may need:-
Pens or crayons
Felt Tip Brush Pens
Water colour palette
Paper or Notebook
Esther Thorpe of Origami Est demonstrated how to make an Origami diamond. For a complete novice this was very manageable. You will find origami videos on You Tube if this is something that interests you:-
For Origami you may need:-
Paper Square – You will require some of the same size
Bible Journaling is extremely popular and a great way of consolidating your Scripture. You read a passage of your Bible and then make a relevant design either at the side of the writing (if there is a blank section for this) or you can colour the whole page with water colours. The most important aspect to this is spending time in God’s presence and learning the Word of God. You will get lots of great ideas online for this.
For Bible Journaling you may need:-
Journaling Bible – some people find the thought of drawing over their Scripture too much to bear so in this case, you can use a notebook or paper.
Pencils, pens, crayons
Magazine cut outs
Clear gesso to prepare Bible pages
Watered down poster paint
Shakers – You make these by placing some sequence and a small card with a verse or aspirational saying on it inside transparent cellophane (I keep these when I get items delivered inside them) and secure it together and secure it to the page with Washi Strips.
Tip-ins – You make these with a piece of card (could be an old greeting card) and you fasten this to your page with Washi Strips. This provides additional space for more creating!!
For Creative Photography – All you need is:-
A camera or phone
Many men reading this may think this creativity talk is for girls but that is certainly not the case. There are plenty of other creative pursuits for men if nothing above appeals. You could try sketching, creating furniture, learning to play an instrument, gardening or decorating. There is no limit to creativity.
Craft Materials can be expensive so it is important to upcycle what you can, collect a stash in your home which can become your go to box of tricks when you are feeling crafty. I collect cellophane, greeting cards, glass jars, cardboard, wrapping paper (you never know when it will come in useful!). You will find a great supply of craft materials on Amazon, Hobbycraft, Cheerfully Given and Etsy.
You Tube has many how to videos for lots of different creative pursuits. The most important thing to remember is that you can do it. It is not about whether your painting will hang in the Louvre, it is about whether your Father in Heaven likes what he sees and whether it brings Him glory. The importance is in the time spent with Jesus and the peace and enjoyment that you get from switching off from the busines of life and relaxing!
Just give it a go today! I am sure you will surprise yourself!
Always Remember, Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Love and Blessings