First things first, let’s talk about what Bible journaling is not.
It’s NOT for:
- showing off your mad art skills
- checking off a box on a to-do list
- impressing God
- impressing others
- perfection or near-perfection
- fear of judgement
- fear of failure
- gallery art
- neat and tidy thoughts
- proving how spiritual we are
In my own personal journaling Bible, you will find:
- bleed throughs
- messy pages
- rips, crinkles and wrinkles
- a new way to engage with scripture
- cheesy stickers
- exploration of new techniques and mediums
- my personal relationship with the Father
- my heart
- my love for the Lord
- a love letter
- worship through art
- imperfect efforts
- God’s voice
- God’s presence
And finally, let me remind you, before we start, that YOU ARE:
- a child of God
- a new creation
- loved and adored
- fearfully and wonderfully made
- a daughter to the King
Just to name a few. And always believe the fact that you are and always have been enough.
Why Do You Want To?
The reason I ask this first is because I think it is important to know your why. You will often read in this blog, “there is no wrong way to Bible journal.” And while I believe that to be true, I also believe people can get started with creative worship for the wrong reasons.
Bible journaling, in my opinion, is 100% relational. Every single word and process should be fully focused on God and our relationship with Him. If we are to learn more about His Word and want to selflessly glorify Him, that should be our purpose. Learning about and worshiping the Lord should be our why.
If you simply want to create beautiful faith-filled pictures, you can do that too. However, when I write about the practice of Bible journaling, I am less concerned with the art. To me, Bible journaling is much more about the heART!
My own definition of Bible journaling is as follows:
Bible journaling is a very personal way to be in the presence of our glorious God, to engage with the Word, to praise and glorify Him, to speak to and be in relationship with our heavenly Father, to record our prayers, Bible study and sermon notes, and to write down the things we hear the Lord speaking to us. It does not require you to work directly in your Bible. There are no rules and no judgement.
Everything, But the Kitchen Sink
Together, let’s go through the list below and simply remind ourselves about just some of the different ways we can Bible journal. Let’s start with ways we can journal IN our Bibles. [For the most part, this list specifically refers to Bibles with wide margins.]
- Notes! You can use the oversized margins for sermon notes and bible study notes.
- Scripture memorization – It is often helpful when trying to memorize verses, to write out the words by hand. I have a special notebook for my scripture writing and for the verses I collect.
- Prayers – You can document your prayers or make prayer lists in the margins of your Bible.
- Thoughts – There are pages in my journaling Bible that include my thoughts about certain scripture and my conversations with the Father.
- Lyrics – How many times have you heard a hymn or even a contemporary worship song and wanted to record the written lyrics because they spoke to you in unbelievable ways.
- Visual records – It can be beneficial to many of us who are visual learners, to be able to illustrate the scripture or draw a chart or map to show what’s happening in the written words.
Now, if that’s not enough to get you started Bible journaling, remember everything listed above can also be done OUTSIDE of our Bibles as well. You can use a traveler’s notebook or art journal. I’ve even seen many journalists use an inexpensive spiral notebook that could easily be purchased from a local dollar store.
There is a plethora of mediums that can be used and far more ideas for journaling than I have listed here. But this is Bible Journaling 101, which means I’m simply making introductions.
6 Different Ways to Create Inside Your Bible
- just in the margins, nothing on the text
- in the margins and only transparent mediums on the text
- all over, covering page (generally those who choose this option have a study Bible for reading and a separate Bible specifically for their Bible art)
- on inserts such as tipins/tipouts
- only in a line-art or coloring Bible (that includes pre-drawn art)
- use an interleaved Bible
7 Additional Ways to Create Outside of Your Bible
- wall art (ex. on canvas)
- sculptures (ex. clay, stone, metal, etc)
- altered books
- scrapbooks (with photography)
- art journals
- collages and assemblages
- “Bible” journals
- sketch book
- bullet journals
- war binders
- traveler’s journal/notebook
I’ve often heard people suggest starting with a favorite scripture, and if you are a skilled and talented artist, I say go for it. However, if you do not have experience with art, I don’t think that’s the wisest decision you can make and here’s why.
It’s quite simple. I don’t believe the first time you ever write or create in your Bible, that you use a beloved verse. Let me say this now, so we are completely clear.
Maybe you don’t make a mistake on your very first page, but IT WILL happen. Do you really want to try out something new on something you cherish?
I say save that page for a time when you know what you’re doing, and you know what and how you want to illustrate it.
How Do I Start?
So how do we pick out a scripture to begin journaling?
First, choose a verse or verses you understand, are familiar with, or that can be illustrated easily (from a sermon you heard, a worship song, or whatever).
Remember, Bible journaling is a personal journey for each of us. Your journey will not look like mine or anyone else’s.
Next, I suggest starting with pencils and colored pencils, if possible. They are an easy medium to use for many and when you make a mistake in pencil, you can correct it with little to no effort.
Or if you already have a favorite medium that you have experience with, use that. Maybe you’re a painter and you feel like watercolor paints will be simplest to use.
At this point, you’re simply trying to get started and get comfortable with Bible journaling.
If you’re not totally committed to drawing, coloring, painting or gluing in your Bible right now (yet you still want to try to create INSIDE your Bible), start small.
With micro journaling, you can underline or highlight with color and doodle next to the verse.
For instance, in Jeremiah 24:6 the Lord says, “For I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them, and I will plant them and not pluck them up.”
You could doodle eyes or a flower next to the verse to represent what God is saying.
However, the fact remains, there is no rule stating you must create IN your Bible. Go back and look at the list I provided earlier, of ways to journal OUTSIDE of your Bible. Pick one of those mediums and don’t force yourself to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.
Again, Bible journaling is about you and God and your relationship with Him. Do not feel pressured into doing something that causes you any amount of stress. Journaling is about getting excited about the Word again and you must be committed to the way you choose to learn the Word and praise the Lord.
Now, if you’re unable to come up with your own artwork ideas, I am of the belief that it’s perfectly acceptable to get inspiration from Google and Pinterest, or anywhere else you find creative ideas.
[Note: If you duplicate another journalist’s artwork and post it online for others to see, it is only appropriate to give the original artist credit for their work.]
When using search engines, search for “Bible journaling ideas” or something similar. Sometimes, I even include the book and the chapter in my search terms to find more specific results. This way, I can see what others have done for that verse or similar verses.
Out of everything you’ve read today, the following statements are the most important and should find a place in your heart, not only for Bible journaling, but also for life.
START WHEREVER YOU ARE, WITH WHATEVER YOU HAVE, WHENEVER YOU CAN!
You do not need anything else, except a pencil and paper and a desire to get into the Word.
And if you remember only one thing from this entire post, it should be this quote from New York Times Bestselling author, Jon Acuff, “DON’T COMPARE YOUR BEGINNING TO SOMEONE ELSE’S MIDDLE.”
Remember, the practice of creative worship is not meant for comparison or competition. Every journalist you follow was a beginner at some point. All that’s left is for you to begin your own journey.
[Please head over to Part Two of Creative Worship 101: Bible Journaling for Beginners.]