Suzybower's Blog

Creative ideas for church and youth ministry.

This is not a creative resource

This post is different from all the others, but I felt like I wanted to share it even though it’s not a resource or creative idea.

A lady from my home group gave me a call the other day to let me know she had been praying for me. How lovely. Continuing on, she explained how I had been on her heart, and how when she spent time praying over me she felt like God wanted to say something to me. She said a few things, including:

‘Trust me and I will lead you gently.

Your creativity is part of you, it can never be lost, it will remain as a stream throughout your life, it may change, grow subside and slow, but it will always be there for you to worship access and celebrate me.’

In the past people have said things to me they feel God wants me to hear, but they have never been as detailed and specific as this. I must confess I was a little skeptical at first, but overall I found this so encouraging. I sometimes feel like I need to use my creativity otherwise it may disappear. I often feel guilty that I don’t paint more or use the artistic skills that God has given me – mainly because I don’t think I’m good enough and it will never be perfect (oh the joy of being a perfectionist).

But this has encouraged me to challenge that way of thinking. It’s ok to be relaxed about the whole thing. I’ve got a lifetime to enjoy the gifts that God has blessed me with, and they should be just that – a blessing, rather than something which provokes fear and guilt.

Over the summer someone commissioned me to do a series of paintings. I’m still looking for inspiration for them – but I feel more at peace about it, and feel that God will either ‘lead me gently’ with it, or it’s not something I need to do at the moment.

So there you go – my first blog thats a bit more bloggy than the usual ones.


Baggage: creative worship

This idea popped into my head the other day whilst I was trying to focus on doing my expenses. The illustration or creative worship session is themed around the idea of baggage and burdens (but I haven’t actually used the idea yet, so the plan is fairly loose).

As people arrive there are loads of different bags in the centre of the room which people sit round (suitcase, tesco bag, backpack etc.). At some point people have to choose a bag to represent the burdens they are carrying. They could perhaps walk around with it for some of the session/service. Then at some point they place their baggage down at the foot of the cross and leave it there:

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7 (and Psalm 55:22)

I spoke to someone else about this the other day, and they said it could be quite powerful if some people’s bags were too heavy to carry and others had to share the load. This could add more of a corporate element to the time. But I guess that if you’re loading the bags up with bricks or something, you may just have to make a short health and safety announcement – you don’t want people putting their backs out!

Let me know if you have any further thoughts or reflections on this idea as I would like to put it into practice sometime.

Psalm 23

You’re welcome to use this image if you would like. The text is taken from a mixture of the message paraphrase, new king james, and NIV.

Giant Blob Tree: Creative reflection

If you haven’t heard of Pip Wilson’s Blob drawings, then you’re in for a treat. The most famous one is probably the blob tree which features a scene of different blobs all doing different things:

People can look at the picture and find a blob which represents their answers to questions such as ‘how do you feel today?’. For example someone may answer that they feel great, on top of the world and are therefore the blob at the top. This kind of thing is great for the beginning of a weekend away. Pip has produced a number of different books with different pictures in (I think they are quite expensive to buy though – you could always have a go at drawing your own!).

I recently took part in a youth festival called SOLID, where I spent time at the prayer tent. I took with me a giant version of the blob tree:

I had some really great conversations based on the blob scenes. I explained the tree to them, and generally asked people three questions:

– How are you feeling today?

– How are you feeling in relation to God?

– Where would you like to be with God?

Then if people wanted to they could write on a piece of paper shaped like a speech bubble their answer to the last 2 questions, and stick this on the scene. If they were still keen they could draw their own blob and add it to the ‘Blob SOLID’ scene.

It seemed to go down really well. Apart from the fact that I sat outside in the sun all day on the hottest day of the year which resulted in me getting heat stroke! It was all worth it though.

Book Recommendations

Here are some great books packed full of creative ideas for prayer, worship and meditation:

Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength: 50 Creative Worship Ideas for Youth Groups – by Jenny Baker.

This book is full of loads of excellent ready to use ideas for creative worship. Available from the book section of Proost.

Be. Live. Pray. – by Becca Dean.

This book is aimed at 14-18 year olds as a resource to inspire them to pray. There are activities within the book which could easily be used within a youth group setting. It’s available from Amazon.

Osmosis – by Suzi Stock.

I had never attempted leading my young people in christian meditation before I came across this book. I must say, I was fairly dubious about if young people could be quite for that long. But Suzi convinced me to give it a go, and the young people actually loved it! This book has about 5 different sessions in it where the group are led through a meditation, listen to songs, and fill out worksheets. The song suggestions are a bit outdated now, but it is easy to replace them with more modern equivalents. Apart from that there is fairly little prep needed for the sessions. The book is available from Kevin Mayhew.

Shibboleth: Theological Reflection using Art

A little while ago there was a piece of artwork in the entrance hall of the Tate Modern called ‘Shibboleth’. In essence it was a giant crack in the floor stretching the entire length of the space. It was pretty impressive! I was inspired by the meaning behind this piece and based one of my Sunday morning youth group sessions on it. I think it was particularly suited to young people aged 14+, but some of the younger ones did engage with it. I also think it would be suitable for an adult audience. Have a little look for yourself what the art is all about (check this out), and then feel free to use the study I created for it:

Information sheet – Work through the blue boxes first, followed by the pink then the purple.

Blank sheets for people to fill in

The Tate Modern often have really impressive pieces of art in the Turbine Hall, so if you’re interested then keep checking up on what they have there. I plan to take my YP’s sometime if they want to go.

Pixilated Jesus: creative corporate worship

This is a corporate worship idea which involves everyone doing a little bit of painting. Everyone gets a little slip of paper which looks something like this, and has a code on the back (e.g. A1):

They paint what they see onto a piece of A4 card. The code on the back is then used to put the finished paintings in order, onto a grid on the floor. As people add their pictures, it slowly becomes clear that what they have painted is a small section of a picture of Jesus. When everyone has added their painting there will be a giant montage of Jesus.

Here are some possible themes and reflections you could draw from this experience:

– Body of Christ: That individually we make up different parts of the same body (1 Cor 12).

– Creation: At the end of most days in the creation story God said ‘it was good’. But when creation was finished with everything together God said that ‘it was very good’. We were also created in the image of a trinitarian God, and we are therefore intrinsically relational. We were made not just to bring glory to God on our own, but instead called to worship God together. The combined effect of the finished mural was far greater than the individual parts.

– Sometimes we can’t see the point of what God is doing at the time, but looking back it becomes clear He knows where He’s going with it all. He’s got the big picture in his mind.

So here’s the detail of how to get it all ready…

– Find a detailed picture of Jesus. Either a close up of his face (like the one used for the Passion publicity), or one of him on the cross would work well.

– Make the picture greyscale, and perhaps increase the contrast so that it is easier to distinguish the grey areas.

– Split the picture up into a grid and blow it up.

– Print it out, cut it up, and write the code on the back:

Thanks go to Kat Orr who used this idea at Leading Edge a few years ago.