Kids, Art, and God

Kids, Art, and God - Parenting Like HannahYou would think encouraging children’s artistic talent would be so easy every Church is doing it well. Not really. Coloring sheets really do very little to develop artistic talent in anyone. In fact, I have known many adult artists who still struggle with how to use their gifts for God.

As a non-artist, I have to beat the bushes for help with all of the art projects I am unable to do well. Even those people who are very talented, downplay their artistic abilities when I ask for their help. Maybe it’s because the art world is very competitive and it can be a difficult way to make money. People assume if they aren’t making lots of money with their art, they have no talent. As a non-artist, I say God can use whatever artistic talent you have or can fake!

Most people know if their children have some artistic talent. The drawings are advanced compared to their classmates or perhaps they have a keen sense of color and style. Unfortunately, a lot of parents panic when they realize they have a gifted artist for a child. All they can think of is the proverbial starving artist and they wonder how they are ever going to convince this child to get a “real” job. Many parents actually discourage their artistic children from developing their talents in hopes they will abandon art for something more “profitable”.

I am not here to debate the merits of a career in art. I have known people who have done very well and people who haven’t. What I am suggesting is, that as parents, we forget about money for a second and only focus on developing our child’s talent for God. What a shift in perspective! A strong work ethic, some financial “smarts” and a well developed sense of independence will help your child become independent financially. Their talents may or may not provide them income. What they definitely do provide is a way for your child to serve God.

So what are some ways you can encourage your child to use his artistic talents for God? First, send him my way!  I have tons of projects begging for some artistic flair! Seriously though, my guess is that your congregation has lots of needs for someone who can paint and draw, too.

One of the most unique and interesting ways I have seen a congregation use its artists was done by a congregation here in town. They had artists set up with easels, paints and a canvas. As the worship service progressed, the artist created a painting that reflected the prayers, scripture readings, lesson and other activities of the congregation that day. The resulting piece of art was beautiful and could have been displayed or given as a gift.

Perhaps your church or education wing is a little dull and boring. Many a building has been made beautiful and exciting with murals. If your child’s talent is in its beginning stages, the image can be blown up and traced on the wall and then filled in with acrylic paints. (By the way, these walls tend to look nice years after “normal” walls would have to be re-painted.) Our children have also painted murals on canvas that have then been sent as decorations for orphanages around the world.

Maybe your congregation needs a new logo or a cover for a program or a flier for an event. Artistic children and teens often make some of the best drawings for advertising as they are often bright and free-spirited. Children also design great greeting cards which can then be sold to raise funds for orphanages or other ministries.

Does your church use drama? Set designing is another way to put artistic talents to use. Basically any surface that can be brightened can benefit from some artistic improvements. Computer programs can even allow artists to design their own fabrics which can be made into curtains, pillows or other decorative items around the Church.

Encourage your child to use his imagination and find ways to use his talents for God. I even have an artist friend who has spent his life creating cartoon shows that teach godly messages to children. So, forget your fears of your 30 year old daughter still painting in your garage and encourage her to develop and use her talents for God. She might just surprise both of you with how God uses her artistic talent!

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Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19 NIV)