Come to the Altar- With Craft Supplies

Holidays are exciting. Holidays are special. Holidays are also repetitive.

Though the sacredness of Christmas and Easter never get old, the fact is that the stories remain the same, year after year. Soon, it becomes a challenge to tell them in new, fresh ways. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit ultimately keeps the wonder alive. At the same time, we need our God given creativity when it comes to holiday lesson plans and programs.

Our traditional Easter family worship includes a time in the service where the kids present a program. Acting out the Easter story is the first way to go, but this group of kids has made it clear that they don’t like performing. The next approach is more straightforward (and I’m pretty sure they view it as the more mature option). The Easter scriptures are divided so that everyone gets a reading part, and we break it up by singing a few songs together. Simple, fairly reasonable prep, and…… predictable. For a couple of years, I convinced them to make a video so that they were, in fact, performing, just not live. This resulted in lively re-tellings of the crucifixion and resurrection, including one done as a news broadcast.

Then they caught on to my sneaky way of getting a performance, and they shut it down. I still have the footage, though. They are sincere and adorable.

The truth is that the kids are right. Worship is not a recital. It’s not a show for the congregation, but praise and adoration to the King of Kings. The children’s time in the service is a chance for them to lead, not entertain. And so we ask God for inspiration.

Behold, the collaborative Easter cross. It’s an art piece that tells a story.

The kids worked in groups to create pieces of the cross. Each piece depicts part of the story, coming together to create one symbol of grace. When it was time to present the work to our church family, the groups told their section of the story in a mix of scripture and their own words.

What made this project special was that we passed out paper and crayons to all of the youth and adults. They were instructed to draw something that reminded them of the Easter story. Once they did so, we added their work around the large cross, creating one united piece that celebrate the risen Lord.

After the service, everyone crowded around the board to see their own work as part of the community project. It was clear that this was not a measure of artistic ability, but heartfelt expression of what was most meaningful to each individual- and uniting to glorify God.

To make your own collaborative art project:

1. Choose a holiday or story to celebrate.

2. Choose a symbol that reflects your story, and draw a large outline on poster board- or multiple pieces of poster board lying side by side.

3. Cut the large symbol into as many pieces as you have kids or groups of kids. Make sure to label the backside for easy reassembly when it’s time to complete the piece.

4. Give kids their pieces and lots of art supplies. Cover the entire piece with color, if possible, for optimum final results.

5. Once the pieces are complete, place them back together on a bulletin board or large piece of cardboard.

6. Provide paper and art supplies to any other church members who would like to contribute to the project, and place their work alongside the kids.

Be creative! If each member of your church family is giving a square piece of paper or cardstock, you can create a quilt or mosaic. Consider decorating puzzle pieces, or even just drawing a simple large picture on a bulletin board and allowing everyone to color a part. Can you use cloth to make a weaving or other materials to make a communal sculpture? The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.

Collaborative art unifies all generations while inviting expression to God in a creative form of worship. Kids- and adults- who find merely reading and singing to be constrictive will likely welcome the opportunity to praise God this way!

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