Coloring. It is not something that is listed in the intergenerational ministry ideas books. But at Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church in Surrey, B.C., coloring a nativity scene during the Advent season has been met with enthusiasm from all ages. The congregation colored panels depicting Mary and Joseph, the angels, the shepherds, and the wise men along with text. The five posters fit together into a 6-by-6-foot completed piece that was ready to display for the Christmas service.

Carolyn Tolsma is the worship codirector and youth ministry assistant at the church. This past summer she observed how their interns would spend time with residents at Elim, the Christian seniors complex across the street, coloring while having conversations and getting to know each other. This sparked an idea.

Tolsma found the large nativity coloring scenes through the CRC Network on a children’s ministry page. Each Sunday a new poster was set up in the foyer area along with coloring pencils. Congregants colored before, after, and even during the service. Another congregation that meets in the Fleetwood church were invited to participate as well, and during the week anyone coming into the building was able to add color. They had no idea what a success it would be. From three to 83-year-olds, the comments were similar. “This is so much fun!” “I just have to finish this part.” “I can’t wait to work on the next one.” Children loved to be creative with colors. Adults seem to be intentional about shading and color schemes.

“It’s hard to find something that allows us all to engage together on a creative piece; making it together is what makes this unique. We struggle to find ways for everyone to be creative, and this provided that opportunity as well as giving space for those people who have a hard time sitting still throughout a whole service!” said Tolsma.

Pastor Tom Bomhof agrees. “It’s very interesting to see how young and old have engaged with it. People wander by, see what’s going on, pick up a marker or coloring pencil, and fill in a little piece.”

Fleetwood is a congregation that is deliberate about celebrating the arts, and this has been a surprising opportunity to invite participation from the whole congregation in an artwork of a different kind.

The Advent posters are available from Illustrated Children's Ministry.

About the Author

Jenny de Groot is a teacher/librarian in Langley, British Columbia.