Starting a Bible Journalling group at your church can be so much easier than you might think. You don’t need shed-loads of cash or confidence (trust me, I had neither!)
All that’s needed is a willing, humble heart and a bit of creative thinking.
Here are my tips for starting a group at your church…
1. Just go for it
Don’t wait until you have lots of people ready to join your group – just go for it. Lots of people don’t really know what Bible Journalling is all about until they see it, so just pick a day and time that suits you (and commit to be there unless you absolutely can’t), make a few posters and get your group advertised.
I found two hours to be a good length of time for a meeting, but I think one and a half would be fine too. I think that people really enjoyed the luxury of making time for themselves to just sit quietly and be creative.
If no one turns up for the first few weeks, be okay with that. If your group ends up being small or not the age demographic you expected, be okay with that too: sometimes beautiful friendships bloom in unexpected places.
2. Pretty-up your room a little
You might need to request a little cash from your church to fund a couple of little shopping trips. Because let’s be honest, church rooms are not very often all that pretty!
I pushed tables together, covered them in an Ikea oilcloth, strung up fairy lights and popped bottles of fake flowers around the place.
Lighting is worth considering too: you want to be able to see what you’re doing, but softer lighting is more relaxing.
Ask if a cupboard can be cleared for you to stash all your gear: that way you don’t need to carry it in each week from home.
3. Buy scrapbooks
Not many of my faithscrappers were all that happy about working in their Bibles, which I totally get. You may need to invest in some little spiral bound scrapbooks for them or provide plain card each week on which to work.
You might want to consider charging people a little fee each week which could go towards these costs.
4. Have relaxing music playing
Just gently, in the background – it makes such a difference, adding ambience and relaxing people.
5. Provide refreshments
But bear in mind that some of your group may be on diets or have food-related issues – biscuits and cake may be the perfect way to treat your friends or you may want to consider fresh fruit and breadsticks.
Offering drinks on arrival is a lovely way to make people feel relaxed and pampered.
6. Pamper your group
Consider popping together a little treat bag for each person to bless them on the first meeting: it doesn’t need to be expensive. Mine contained tea lights, pencils and Hershey Kisses (no one warned me that these taste grim, lol)
7. Place boxes in the centre of your table
Have one box for paper scraps (suggest people contribute wrapping paper and pretty packaging too) and another for mixed media and stamping supplies.
And have another for all sorts of cut-aparts and stickers. To help with the budget, I’d recommend buying papers that can be cut down into lots of smaller embellishments and limiting how often you add the more expensive items like flare and resin shapes.
Don’t limit yourself to the ‘faith ranges’ of scrap product. Although it can be nice to have a few pieces with relevant ‘faith’ words on them (washi goes a very long way!), you’ll find people manage to express their ideas with an enormous variety of imagery – birds, balloons, kites, hearts, flowers…
So just pop everything in the middle of the table and let everyone dig in and help themselves as if you’re all sharing a big dinner!
8. Keep your format *really* simple
After folks have arrived and got drinks, have a few minutes of quiet or prayer. Don’t feel any pressure to pray out loud if it’s not your thing (but absolutely encourage everyone pray aloud if yours is the sort of church where folks enjoy doing that).
Then just read out your chosen Bible verse for that day: read it slowly and a couple of times for people to start to get ideas about how they might interpret it creatively.
Once this bit is done, you’ll probably find the conversation flows easily onto real-life stuff, which is perfect. But if you want to bring it back every now and then to your verse, you could throw in questions such as, “So how does this verse relate to your life right now? Would anyone like to share?”
9. Let people do their own thing
The only tip I give my group, is to, “paint the walls before adding cushions” – you need to start on the background – paint, big pieces of paper etc – before stamping and adding embellishments.
People will learn how to express themselves creatively given the opportunity to just play with materials. Some of my ladies enjoy watercoloring and tearing paper; others will enjoy the process of rooting through the embellishment box and picking out possibilities.
Have a pair of scissors and a glue stick for each person and remember than older hands may need help with cutting and peeling actions.
Keep the entire meeting very expectation-free and don’t have a ‘show and tell’ time unless people are keen to talk about what they’ve made.
If your group are keen on learning about the crafting side of things, you could demonstrate one technique a week – but bear in mind that we all have things to teach each other and everyone will have good ideas and things to share.
10. Relax and listen
It helps to remember that this isn’t your thing: it’s God’s and if you keep a gentle, humble, “you first” attitude, He’ll turn up.
Be okay with silences; be okay with noise, tears or other unexpected diversions. The Holy Spirit promises to be right there with you, “wherever two or three are gathered in my name.”
So be bold, friend: if you suspect God is whispering that He’d like you to step out bravely and started something scrappy for Him, just jump: He promises to be with us every step of the way.
Sending blessings, sweet friends!