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Engaging Kids in Sermons through Art


Quick! What’s the best way to get adolescent boys involved in the Sunday service? Promise pizza and a soccer game in the social hall after church? Make the offertory into a relay race?

How about having them take part in planning the service via creative arts? That’s what Rev. Meg Jenista and Katie Roelofs, minister of worship for the Christian Reformed Church of Washington, D.C., suggested. Mary Monsma, their Sunday school teacher who is also an artist, took them on.

Jenista prepared a 10-week series on the Psalms. She wanted a visual installation in the sanctuary that would express that worship is a two-way conversation with God. As Monsma, Jenista, and Roelofs led through the different aspects of worship, the boys chose conversational words as well as colors to match the psalms that Jenista would be preaching on that week.

For Psalm 95, the boys chose orange and the words “join me,” because of the inviting nature of the Psalm. For Psalm 51, they chose green and the words “I forgive you.” Each week the boys folded 15 origami leaves; at the end of the series, 150 leaves hung from a tree branch in the sanctuary.

While there was stress over choosing the right color and words, and folding the paper into leaves in time for the service, the boys said it helped them think about the psalms as well as understand the service more. Isaac V.E. said, “Sometimes I daydream during the service, but the leaves made me think.” Joseph J. commented that while this project was hard, “it was fun to know ahead of time what the service is going to be about.”

Monsma was proud of their hard work. “Their thoughtful color choices, their patient paper folding, and their willingness to display, speak, and write about their visual conversation with God all help to bring them and the congregation to a deeper understanding of the psalms.”

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