LEAven Blog


Using Children’s Artwork and Photography in Worship Services

Illustrating the Scripture Lessons with Children’s Artwork

 Many congregations use digital projections to show hymn texts, Bible readings, etc., but do we often see art created by children on the screen? Here are two examples of how children and their artwork that you can easily incorporate in Sunday worship services, school chapel, and other worship opportunities.

Illustrating a Bible Story

 Until the Covid-19 pandemic hit, I wrote and directed a series of annual “Epiphany Fests” for the children at my congregation’s Lutheran school. As part of the yearly event, children in the third through fifth grades would illustrate one of the Epiphany stories.[i] Here’s how you can have children illustrate a Bible story or other Scripture readings in your congregation:

  1. Copy the Bible story from https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/English-Standard-Version-ESV-Bible/ or other online resource.
  2. Divide the Bible passages into the number of children in the class/classes (some children might have an extra Bible verse to illustrate).
  3. Assign students the passage or passages to be illustrated (Click here for the Script/Illustration Assignments example).
  4. Have the students illustrate the story on a piece of 8½ by 11 inch paper in the horizontal (landscape) format. Using the horizontal format allows you to project the images on a horizontal projection screen and add text should you so desire.
  5. Put the finished artwork in the order in which you will show them in conjunction with the reading of the story, and digitally scan, or use your cellphone or digital camera, to copy the pictures.
  6. Copy the images into a PowerPoint presentation for projection during the service (if possible, copy the scripture passages for each projection on the slide and crop the illustration to fit the slides as you are able).[ii]
  7. BONUS: Have children read the Scripture passage that accompanies their artwork as it’s projected.

 Click here for an example of some artwork that our fourth and fifth grade children created on the story of the Wise Men (Matthew 2:1–12).

Using Digital Photographs in Worship

 It is difficult for children to rehearse, memorize lines, and all show up at the same time for any given Sunday worship service. Solution: Take digital photos of the children and put them into a PowerPoint presentation.

This is especially good to do with young children. Click here to see PowerPoint slides of the K–3 students “telling” the story of the Manifestation to the Shepherds (Luke 2:8–20). Note the simple costumes that our K–3 teachers organized from our church’s Christmas costume cache.

The 15 photos in this presentation, accompanied by student readers, provided a way to have the children “up front” in the service without the necessity of hours of rehearsal and the logistical difficulties in getting the K–3 children to perform live. The K–3 teachers helped me to pose the kids for the photos that I later put into a photo booklet that we gave to all the children and their teachers as a remembrance gift.[iii] Our church’s color copier made short work of the printing, and it was a great keepsake for the children and their parents.

Your Turn to Illustrate

 Now it’s your turn to do some illustrations and photos by and with your students. Whether in your classrooms, Sunday school, or youth group, digital photographs and projected scans of artwork are ways to have children participate in telling the Good News in worship services.

 God bless your teaching during this new school year.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV)

[i] The Epiphany season includes the stories of the Manifestation to the Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-12), the Miracle of the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), the Baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:12-17), and the Manifestation to the Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20).

[ii] I like to use the widescreen (16:9) aspect ratio in PowerPoint. The larger format gives you more flexibility.

[iii] See Script/Illustration Assignment attachment.

Dr. Jeffrey E. Burkart, former Associate Dean of the College of Vocation and Ministry and Coordinator of Lutheran Teacher Education, now serves in retirement as Emeritus Professor of Education and Artist in Residence at Concordia University, St. Paul, MN. He is a nationally known teacher, author, speaker, dramatist, poet and musician. Dr. Burkart has over 200 publications including 12 books, numerous professional journal articles, book reviews, chancel dramas, Christian musicals, hymns, poems, CD recordings, films and videos.

Before coming to Concordia, St. Paul, he taught in LC-MS elementary, junior high, and secondary schools in Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. He and his wife, Martha, have three grown sons (Jonathan, David and Andrew) who all are proud graduates of King of Kings Lutheran School and Concordia Academy, Roseville, MN.

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