Throwback Thursday: Benediction Wall

25 09 2014

In our youth group, it was a tradition to close each gathering by saying together the Priestly Benediction from the book of Numbers. So when we began contemplating how to personalize our youth space (particularly, the ugly, bare wall in the hallway), we quickly became attached to the idea of using this Scripture in a prominent way. We wanted our decorations to reflect the spirit of our youth group and somehow emphasize the sense of community that we wanted all of our youth to experience.

We ended up making a community art piece based on the words of the benediction!  I scheduled this project for the beginning of the school year, so it was a great way to teach new students the benediction, and to remind returning students why these words were so important to us. We happened to have some scrap beadboard lying around, so that became our canvas. (Be creative with your materials, and take a look at what you already have! We could just as easily have used foamboard, plywood, newsprint, or even plain old construction paper!) Some of our youth boys came up to the church the week before and cut the beadboard into 28 same-sized rectangles.

On the night of the project, we began with a brief Bible study on the Numbers passage. We talked about what the word “benediction” means and looked at several passages from the Bible that demonstrated giving and receiving blessings. Students signed up for a letter from the first line of the benediction and were tasked with painting their letter onto their piece of beadboard. The only rule was that their letter had to be big and bold enough to stand out from whatever background they designed. At the end of the night, we put the verse together, and eventually we were able to hang the whole piece up in the Youth Wing:

2014-02-27 16.12.41

I love the finished product. Paul tells us that we, who are many, are made one in Christ; each of us has been given gifts by the Holy Spirit to contribute to the body of Christ. Likewise, each letter is unique, representing the efforts and ideas of each youth in the group. Yet they come together to proclaim one, singular message:

May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you
And be gracious unto you.

May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you
And give you peace. Amen.

Splatter Paint!

18 05 2012

The dilemma: This particular piece of artwork, displayed proudly in the girls’ bathroom in our church youth wing, doesn’t exactly scream, “We’re hip and cool and relevant to teenagers!” (There was a similar piece in the boys’ bathroom)

The process: I pulled aside three girls during our after-school program, presented them with two blank canvases, and commissioned them to create something a little more youth-friendly. They immediately went to work, splattering paint onto the canvas and their faces.

The product: Love what they came up with!


The caveat: As soon as they were installed, my high school boys immediately commented on the “potty humor” of the chosen Bible verses. Oh, well…the girls are still loving the transformation!

Mosaic Crosses

30 04 2012

At our spring retreat this year, we spent a night thinking about grace and salvation. We looked at the story of the woman caught in adultery and talked about how the message of the cross is that God makes beautiful things out of our brokenness. After singing, playing a game, and talking through this story, we divided into our small groups for a time of creative response. We gave each group a hammer, old towels, and one ceramic tile per person. We invited the youth to smash their tile into tiny pieces as they reflected on the idea of “brokenness.” (The idea was, each small group would amass a variety of different colored tile pieces in the process). Then, we passed out plain wooden crosses (we bought them for $1 at Hobby Lobby), mosaic grout, and plastic spoons, and we let the youth create to their hearts’ content! Hand wipes also came in handy (no pun intended).

If you want to do this craft for less money and less mess, check home improvement stores and ask if you can have their broken tile pieces. But for us, it totally worked to break our own tiles!

breaking tiles

Jordan's cross in progress

Remind students not to eat the grout 🙂

one small group's completed crosses!


5 03 2012

Jesus is nailed to the cross: photo and art by Scott Erickson

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

– Romans 12:1

Scott Erickson, artist-in-residence at Ecclesia Church in Houston, recently designed a set of 10 tattoos corresponding with various Stations of the Cross. Chris Seay, Ecclesia’s pastor, joined more than 75 congregation members in getting one of the tattoos as part of their Lenten observance this year.

Now, I’m not a tattoo person at all, but I kind of love this.  This project has brought together an ancient liturgical practice with a new, urban art form…and has done so in an incredibly tasteful, creative, and beautiful way.  In his write-up of the gallery opening, Erickson mentioned that “about 30 of the tatooees showed up and were the actual living ‘Stations of the Cross.'”  It gives an entirely new meaning to the idea of what it means to “live out” your witness! (Click here to see all of his designs…they’re so neat!!)

Sidewalk Chalk Prayers

29 02 2012

This is one of my favorite creative prayer ideas, which I stole from Steven Case’s book Crash: Prayers from the Collision of Heaven and Earth.  We’ve done this activity twice: once on our high school mission trip last year, and once about a month ago during youth group.  Although the context was different in each situation, it worked really well for us both times and proved to be a great way to get students’ creative juices going! I could see this working really well as a community-building art activity, as well.

1. First, choose your Scripture.  (Case recommends choosing something simple.  We’ve done Ephesians 4:4-6 and Galatians 5:22-23 ).  Before your students arrive, write the verse out in big letters on a parking lot or sidewalk. Use big letters!!

2. Give each student a piece of sidewalk chalk, and spend some time explaining the concept of word associations (i.e. What’s the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear the word clock? Time.  Okay, what’s the first word that comes into your mind when you hear the word time? Race.  And so on.)  Tell them that they will be brainstorming word associations from the various words in the Scripture passage by drawing a line from the original word and adding their new word.  They can offshoot from any word in the parking lot, not just the original words of Scripture.  And they don’t have to write Sunday School answers…just the first

word that comes into their mind.

3. Remind them before they begin that this is a form of prayer.  (We made our students do this exercise in silence).  Then see what happens!

4. The debriefing is up to you.  The first time, we talked about the words the students had written; the second time, we had our students walk back over their words in silence.

Click on each of the photos for a better look!

Photo of the Day!

28 02 2012

Location: Shreveport, LA


16 01 2012

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

– 2 Corinthians 3:18

Last night was one of my favorite youth group meetings ever.  One of my high school seniors is taking a “Career Mentorship” class this semester, which means he gets to come hang out at the church for one hour every day.  At first I had my doubts about how much work we would actually get done…but  last week, we spent a couple of days reflecting on Scripture and devising an elaborate art project for youth group.  (Side note: How much better is it to work with youth when writing your lesson plan??? You get great ideas, buy-in, and immediate feedback about whether something will work!)

Part 1.  Canvas

We started out by remembering the story of Moses: how his face glowed when he returned from Mount Sinai.  We talked about how it is impossible to spend time with God and remain unchanged.  (I brought up the saying, “Come as you are, but don’t stay that way,” and we discussed how this applies to the Christian life).

Earlier, we had painted two canvases black.  On one we had attached vinyl letters to read, “God is…”  On the other, I invited the youth to fill in the blank with Sharpie poster paint pens:

We then read 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 using a modified type of Lectio Divina.  In our response time, we discussed what it would look like for us to reflect the glory of God today (hint: we probably won’t actually glow, but we want it to be just as obvious that we’ve been spending time with God!)

Part 2. Mirrors.

Self-Portrait: forgiveness

The youth divided into pairs, and each pair picked one attribute of God to reflect back into the world.  Then we created mirror etchings based around each of their attributes, etching the negative space so that the design itself would shine through.  (So whenever you look into the mirror, the only part that reflects back would be “Love,” “Joy,” etc.)

I got my directions from Dancing Commas (she did a fruit bowl, but the technique is the same).  Here’s my quick rundown of instructions:

1. We used 12-inch square mirror tiles, marking off a six-inch square (the design area) in the middle with masking tape.

2. We provided the youth with a variety of letter stickers, and several sheets of plain vinyl stickers (which they could cut out into any shape).  I also printed out some Christian symbols, which they could trace onto the vinyl.  Stickers and stencils were a really good idea; the non-artistic youth ended up just writing their word onto the mirror with the stickers, and they looked just as good as the more elaborate squares!

3. The etching cream is really acid, so take precautions if you let youth use it.  No horseplay, don’t let it touch your skin, etc.

washing off the etching cream

washing off the etching cream

4. We waited about 30 minutes before washing off the etching cream (which means they haven’t seen their final products yet).  Just a warning: no matter how many mirror tiles you do, you will still have a minor panic attack every time you wash off the etching cream, because you will think it didn’t work.  I promise, once it dries, it will be awesome!

I love the variety of images that were created last night!  We intend to hang all of the artwork in our Youth Wing in the next week or so.  And at Prayer Breakfast tomorrow, I’m going to give each of the kids a tiny mirror tile (you can get them cheap at Hobby Lobby) with a characteristic of God written on it in Sharpie.  We’ll challenge them to carry it with them all day as a reminder to reflect that characteristic back into their schools/homes/etc.

the word "alive" etched into a mirror, with a tree

"Be Alive" (created by two students)

Love in a Drainage Ditch

24 07 2010

A bit of graffiti that we passed today — I love the textures and colors of the concrete. For some reason, it stuck out to me as something worth saving.

Downtown Shreveport

24 07 2010

This evening, Jordan and I decided to take an impromptu excursion into downtown Shreveport to look at our hometown through the eyes of a photographer.  We had a great time, ended up with some pretty cool images (including my new blog header!), and ultimately have decided we should do this more often:

Slumber Party Invitations

25 05 2010

Next month, the youth and children’s ministries are teaming up to host a mother-daughter slumber party for tween girls (incoming grades 4-8).  It’s going to be a super girly night, and even though I’m not the most girly-girl ever, I’m so excited about hanging out with my girls and their moms.  (Plus, my own mom is coming, too!)

I thought this event required something beyond the cursory email announcements and text-message reminders that I sent out every week, so I took it upon myself to design and craft special sleeping-bag invitations for the party:

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most crafty person in the world (that honor goes to either my mother or my sister, who can create literally anything out of paper or fabric).  But every once in a while, I just get the urge to go all out, and this afternoon’s project was the result:

Julie and I sat on the floor of the Fellowship Hall and assembled the invitations.  First, we printed out the text of the invitation on pieces of hot pink cardstock, and we cut them into 3×8 inch rectangles (each invitation consisted of two rectangles: one for the front and one for the back.  We also cut sheets of pink patterned felt in 3-inch squares (2 matching squares perinvitation), and glued the felt to the back of the cardstock rectangles.  We folded the edge of the front back into a triangle shape, to show off the pretty felt on the inside.

Then, we created the little girl heads by cutting out a circle of skin-toned paper and gluing on googly eyes and yarn hair.  We glued the heads to back art of the sleeping bag, and then glued the sleeping bag paper together.

Voila!  In less than an hour, we had created a whole party’s worth of sleeping girls — 19, to be exact.  Hope these invitations make them begin looking forward to the party as much as I am!