Swollen Bibles with colorful tabs and silky ribbons hanging from the tops are seen in more and more hands of residents in Bolivar County as Bible Art Journaling grows in popularity.
As this new form of worship grows, more and more churches are having Bible Art Journaling workshops, Covenant Presbyterian being one of them.
Workshop leader and Bible journaler Courtney Warren said, "I've been journaling since August and have truly seen a change in my relationship with God as I dig deeper into the word. I found Bible journaling through the planning community and explored from there. I attended my first Illustrated Faith workshop in New Orleans, where I met the founder Shanna Noel, and I was hooked. Now I've had the opportunity to lead several workshops and tell more people about Illustrated Faith and how to worship God through art."
Illustrated Faith is a company founded by Noel in 2012. Noel travels the country sharing her story about illustrating faith through art worship.
"Basically, illustrating your faith or Bible journaling is another way of worship. Yes we are painting in our Bibles and yes we are drawing on the pages, but this is another way to worship God and become closer to Him as we study the word. I can tell you every lesson I learned and every story or verse I read just by looking back at the art I've created in my Bible," said Warren.
Casey Andrews, who has begun Bible journaling with her youth group at Immanuel Baptist Church, said, "I started doing it with my seventh- and eighth-graders at the end of October and it has just really blossomed since then. I went into it pretty blindly, I pinterested, searched the Instagram world over, and just Googled everything to do with Bible journaling. We would journal our Sunday school lessons that night during youth time. I've loved watching them grow with it.
"We now follow along with an Illustrated Faith devotional. We have two more entries for 'Created to Create' and then we will start on 'Beautiful.' “Created to Create would be an amazing study to have started from scratch with. The boys ask me to draw them something and then they color, but the girls take their own spin on everything and it's so neat to see how they express themselves.
"They send me Snapchats of what they've done at home in a separate journal or in their Bible journals. I feel like God has given me the opportunity to bond with junior high girls over cool washi tape and gel pens. I'll take washi tape and gel pens with my sweet kids any day," said Andrews.
Many people have difficulty writing in their Bibles because they are concerned with defacing the word of God or with writing in any book.
Warren said, "That's totally O.K. If you feel like it's not in your comfort zone to write in a Bible, then use a notebook or an Illustrated Faith Praise Book. You don't have to have fancy pens and washi tape to create something for God. A pencil and your heart will do just fine. I've worked with people who use sketchbooks or even hymnals to illustrate their faith. The whole point is to spend time with God and in the word."
As this has grown, items have been designed specifically for this, including Bibles for journaling with larger margins and even coloring pages. "You don't have to have a lot of supplies, just a pen with do. A lot of people think they need to be artistic. Shanna did a great devotional called Created to Create that actually talks about this exact thing. We were created by God because He is creative and lives in us, therefore we are creative.
“I can't draw at all, but I can trace. A lot of the images in my Bible are ones I find on Pinterest and then trace onto the pages using my iPad," said Warren.
Teresa Houston recently brought a workshop to her church to share with her church members.
"Phyllis Thornton had become interested in Bible Journaling through a class she attended at First Baptist Church. I had seen Facebook postings on Courtney's page and became interested in the concept of worship through art. Phyllis and I both thought members of Covenant might also enjoy journaling. I then found out from one of the mothers of our youth that their young people were already journaling. "We had young and 'older' attend. We had those who had journaled previously and those who knew nothing," said Houston.
Warren has illustrated her faith on almost every page of her first journaling Bible.
"It honestly feels like such an accomplishment. I feel so much closer to God and I'm leaving something behind that shows that relationships," she said.