bible study | sketchnote

Why I Sketchnote My Bible Study, Even Though I’m NOT an Artist

The Unraveling of Bible-Reading Resolutions

About this time of year, people’s resolve to stick to their New Year’s resolutions quickly unravels. The passion fizzles out. You miss a day or two (which so often can turn into six or seven before you even blink!) and now you feel hopelessly behind. You know you should read your Bible, but you can’t really bring yourself to do it. You may be bogged down in the lists of names in Exodus or the endless laws in Leviticus.

Friends, I can empathize. I’ve been there and done that for years and years.

But this year is different.

This year, I’m reading the Bible in 4 months with the amazing community over at Keith Ferrin’s site, and I’m sketchnoting my way through each book.

Now before you picture fancy doodles and impressive graphics, know this: drawing is NOT my forte. My five-year-old niece draws better than I do. It’s kind of a family joke. Even my stick figures look questionable.

bible study | sketchnote | stick figurePhoto credit

But that didn’t stop me from trying it out Friday night. I went to bed around 11:55 pm and couldn’t fall asleep because I kept picturing what my sketchnote would look like. In fact, I was so excited that I got out of bed, tiptoed to the kitchen, and silently sketched the first two books of the Bible. I didn’t realize how late it was until I crawled back into bed and saw it was 2:43 am. Wow! I haven’t been that excited about interacting with the Bible… ever!

I want to interact with the Bible in a new way

If familiarity breeds contempt, then my relationship with reading the Bible has long been compromised. It’s one of the drawbacks of growing up in a Christian home: you know all the stories by heart so nothing really shocks you anymore. You’re good at sword-drills in church (you know, racing to look up book, chapter, and verse before anyone else) but lack the motivation to crack open the Book at home. You might even be Bible trivia champion, but 30 minutes alone with a Bible leaves you feeling kind of… blah.

bible study | sketchnotePhoto credit

Taking notes with pictures and words together has been a challenge for me. It makes me think of the stories differently. It makes me see connections, themes, and rhythms. It’s FUN! It makes me ponder what image I can use to represent “faith” or “humility” instead of just writing out the word. It engages my right brain just as much as my left, which can make me uncomfortable. But I try not to get caught up in the technicalities of the drawing itself (as you will see in my woeful-looking images), instead focusing on cadence and flow.

Now I’m NOT saying that sketch-noting will replace my regular study of the Bible. Text analysis, bulleted observations, historical research, SMART applications… those all have their proper place and I LOVE having those tools in my Bible study toolbox.

And I’m definitely NOT saying that we need to constantly try new things to get meaning out of Scripture. I’m a firm believer in the Holy Spirit’s role to open our eyes and hearts and bring the Living Word of God to bear in our own lives. Indeed,

The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
~ Hebrews 4:12

The Word is powerful—regardless of what method you use to interact with it.

Should We All Draw the Bible?

bible study | sketchnote

Photo credit

I’m NOT saying everyone needs to draw their way through the Bible.

What I AM saying is this: once in a while, it’s helpful to step outside our comfort zones and try a different approach to interacting with the Word to help us see it with fresh eyes.

For you, that may mean highlighting verses in color-coordinating shades, reading a passage out loud, writing your observations in a journal, or sharing what you’re learning with others in a conversation.

For me right now, it’s sketchnoting. I’ve found a new way to get inside the story and work my way through it, to link images to concepts and grapple with the content in a new way.

I don’t know how long I’ll sketchnote my reading. I’d like to work my way through all 66 books, but then again that’s a big commitment for a new mommy (and terrible artist—have I mentioned that?) to undertake.

But I would love to share my drawings with you. I believe with all my heart that what you and I need is to saturate our hearts and minds with the Word of God, whatever form or shape that takes. And I’m willing to potentially embarrass myself, if by that I can encourage you to take risks and try something new as you read the Bible. Stay tuned for my first sketch-note (and please be kind). 🙂

What about you?

What new method can you try this week to interact with God’s Word in a fresh way? Feel free to share with me in the comments below. (And if you already sketchnote, I would absolutely LOVE to see yours!)

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