After working with children and youth for over twelves years in four different churches, I was beginning to feel called out of parish ministry and into something new – something different. Around that same time, I began to rediscover my childhood love of art, drawing and watercolors. It had been probably twenty years since I’d sat down with pen and paper and spent time drawing.
Illustrated Children’s Moments began when I started drawing illustrations to give kids during children’s sermons/moments at the church I was serving as associate pastor. Kids really connected with the style of my sketches, and parents told me that their kids were bringing up the stories throughout the week – more than they normally would. You can see some examples of the types of illustrations I create for this use here, or check out the images below:
A few months ago, I began to wonder how I could create something for churches and families to use during Advent, that would help bridge the gap between church and home. Everyone who does done work in children or youth ministry know that the bulk of spiritual formation that happens for kids really happens at home. Parents obviously spend much more time with their kids than children’s ministry volunteers, and so however pastors and churches can support families in that role is crucial.
On November 16, I’m going to be launching An Illustrated Advent: Engaging Activities for the Season. There will be two editions: the Church Edition and the Family Edition. There will be some overlap between content, but they are meant to be used together. A church might use some of the activities during worship or their Sunday School programs, and then kids would have other activities throughout the week at home to do with their families.
I’ve also created a series of Advent coloring sheets that are designed to be used for each of the four weeks of Advent (Hope, Joy, Peace and Love). I decided to enlarge one to 4’ x 3’ and my 4 year old son took it to his preschool Sunday School class at church a few weeks ago, and the kids all had a blast coloring on it.
My hope is that through this new venture, I can create original and fun artwork that will appeal to young children, and provide ways to support parents trying to find ways to continue the spiritual formation in their homes.
The best way to stay updated with everything is to join the email newsletter list at Illustrated Children’s Ministry. If you sign up – you will receive five free illustrations so you can get a sense of the style and how you might use them at church, home or school. You can sign up here.
Adam Walker Cleaveland is a pastor, artist and blogger. He lives in Chicago with his wife (also a pastor) and their almost–4-year old son, Caleb. You can find Adam online at awcillustrations.com or adamwc.com.