Art should be a major part of every person’s childhood. You don’t have to be artistic yourself though, in order to use watercolors, crayons, markers, clay or any other art supply to help your kids grow spiritually.
Young children are awesome artists. Their art is pure and true. They aren’t worried about what other people think of it. They produce art for the sheer joy of being creative. Older children and teens are often scarred by art experiences in school, but given art supplies and a supportive environment, most will soon remember the joy of creating.
All you need to do is provide interesting supplies and encourage them to use them in any way they wish (non-destructive of course!). You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Kids are just as happy drawing with dollar store chalk on sidewalks as they would be using oil paints on an artist’s canvas.
The spiritual part begins after they have completed their work of art. Simply ask them to tell you about it. Ask any follow up questions you think are appropriate. Then use the information they have given you to spark a casual, but intentional spiritual conversation with your child.
Here are some possible conversations you can have while admiring your child’s art:
- Gifts and talents from God. You can have this conversation whether or not you believe your child actually has artistic talent. In fact, the conversation may help a child who “hates” their artwork more than one who is very talented. Talk about gift discovery and development. Explain to them God has good works He has prepared for them to do and that some of these may involve using the gifts He gave them. Help them brainstorm ways they can use whatever gifts they may have to serve God. Share with them the parable of the talents and what happened when people used their gifts appropriately (or didn’t). This is a conversation that should be ongoing for their entire life, but childhood artwork is a great way to get those conversations started.
- Handling emotions in godly ways. Those who work with children who have experienced trauma have found kids’ artwork allows them to express their emotions in healthy ways. If your child explains his artwork in light of an emotional experience or as emotions, it’s a great way to start a conversation about how God wants us to handle our emotions. Our emotions aren’t sinful themselves, but how we choose to handle them or let them fester can become sinful. Talk about unhealthy and healthy ways to deal with emotions. Share how David used poetry in the Psalms to express his emotions to God.
- Worshipping God. God has created an amazing world for us to enjoy. Artwork that features nature or even man made things (God gave us the talents and materials for those, too) can be a springboard for discussions about God’s creation. Share ways you thank and worship God for His many blessings. Talk about ways to point others to God so they too can worship Him.
- Processing an event. Life can be confusing – especially when you don’t have much life experience. Your child might not tell you about something, but will draw what happened. As she finally shares the event, talk about what happened empathetically. Then if needed, you can discuss more godly ways to handle similar situations or why God “allows bad things to happen”. The age of the child and the event will dictate where these types of conversations go.
- Serving others and sharing their faith. If your child is willing to give away the finished piece of art, it’s a great way to begin talking about serving others and sharing our faith. Talk about the ways the artwork could serve someone. Discuss natural ways for sharing the art that will also point someone to God or encourage the faith they already have. Make sure you follow through on any ideas you generate together.
There are probably many other ways you can use art to begin important spiritual conversations in natural ways. Remember the quality of the art isn’t as important as the conversations you have (and don’t give over the top false praise either.) It’s a fun, creative and spiritually productive way to spend an afternoon with your kids.