How to Start Bible Journaling
You may have seen Bible journaling, or Illustrated Faith, filling up your Instagram feed over the last year or so. Popularized by Illustrated Faith and its founder Shanna Noel, Bible journaling is a popular spiritual practice for many Christian women. At JellyTelly, we see a lot of potential for Bible journaling to be an amazing family experience and a great way to get your kids into the Word of God! Arden Ratcliff-Mann, a popular Instagram artist and children’s pastor in Kansas City, writes below the supplies needed to start Bible journaling. Over the course of our blog series on Bible journaling, Arden will cover how to start Bible journaling and how to Bible journal with kids. Check out the first post in the series here.
So you’ve heard about Bible journaling and you want to give it a try. Yay! How do you get started? My first instinct when I start a new project like this is to go out and get lots of supplies. So many times in the past, I’ve gotten really excited about something, spent a couple weeks gathering lots of new toys, and then when I sit down to actually do it…. Nothing. I tend to lose all my momentum and then I’m stuck with a bunch of stuff I’ll never use.
Don’t get caught in that trap with Bible journaling! You absolutely do not need to buy a lot of supplies to get started journaling your faith. All you really need is a Bible and a pen. And if you want to use more than that, there’s a good chance there’s a lot of stuff you can use in your kids’ stash or art supplies. You might want to try Bible journaling out for a couple weeks to see if it is a meaningful spiritual practice for you. If it doesn’t help draw you closer to God, then you should feel free to try other practices without having to worry about all the money you spent on supplies.
1. Where Do I Journal?
The first step in getting started is figuring out how you’d like to illustrate your faith. There are lots of different ways Bible journalers respond creatively to God and there’s no wrong way to do it! Some people respond to what God’s putting on their hearts in a separate journal. Some prefer to respond just in the margins of their Bible, or on separate sheet of paper they tape into their Bible. And others like to cover the whole Bible page in paint and color.
Figure out what you’re comfortable with and what appeals to you. If you’ve seen Bible pages on Pinterest where the whole page is covered in paint, but you don’t feel comfortable painting over the words, then don’t! Bible journaling shouldn’t be about creating the prettiest pages or trying to do what everyone else is doing. It’s all about building your relationship with God through creative worship. So be sure to journal your faith in whatever way best helps you connect with God and His word.
It’s also possible that how you journal might change and evolve over time. When I first started Bible journaling, I was comfortable coloring an entire Bible page, but I always wanted to make sure that I could read all the words. I journaled like that for many months, but as I filled up my first journaling Bible and moved into my second, I started to realize that I wasn’t using these Bibles for study—I had other Bibles I used when I wanted to fully read the Word. My journaling Bibles were for my artistic responses to God. After I came to that discovery, I was more comfortable covering up some of the words on the Bible page. But again—that is what works for me, and you should always journal in whatever way is most comfortable for you.
2. What Do I Illustrate?
After you’ve decided how you’d like to start journaling your faith, the next step is to just dive in! This part can often be the hardest—you sit down, ready to journal in your Bible, but where do you start? You’ve got the whole Bible in front of you! I recommend starting with a passage that you’ve recently read in church or Bible study, or a passage from a devotional you’re working through. Another option if you’ve got particular topic in mind, like grace or forgiveness, but don’t know a specific verse, is to just Google it. I’ve often searched online for “Bible verses about God’s love” and will end up finding the perfect verse to fit what God has been laying on my heart. I take notes during the sermon each week and usually try to journal parts of the message that really stood out to me. Bible journaling is all about documenting your walk with God, so expressing where you are right now on your spiritual journey is always a good place to start.
3. What Supplies Do I Need for Bible Journaling?
Now when it comes to what you should use to document your walk with God, again, all you really need is a Bible and a pen. But if you’re looking for some more suggestions, here are some of my favorites:
-journaling Bible: This is the most basic Bible journaling tool! Journaling Bibles are Bibles with a wide (often 2 inch) margin to allow extra space to respond to God’s word. There are lots of different types out there now: basic wide margin Bibles, Bibles that contain full-color art, Bibles with coloring page-like designs, and even Bibles where every other page is blank. Many Bible journalers use some kind of journaling Bible, but it isn’t a requirement! I recently started a Bible journaling group at my church and probably less than half of the participants actually used a journaling Bible; the rest just drew in Bibles they already owned.
-colored pencils: Colored pencils are great for Bible journaling, and even better, you can probably raid your kids’ art supplies for a set! These don’t need to be fancy—a lot of my friends use the Crayola Twistables in their Bibles and swear by them.
-watercolors: Watercolor is my absolute favorite medium to use in my Bible because painting relaxes me and the color is translucent enough for all the Bible words to still be visible. Unfortunately, the basic Crayola set of watercolors bleeds through Bible pages like crazy, but the cheap $5 set from Michael’s works great. I started off using cheap watercolors, and then after I discovered I loved them, I added a slightly more expensive set to my wishlist and received it as a birthday gift.
-stamps & stickers: I love using alphabet stamps or stickers in my Bible, but there’s also a lot of other fun stamps and stickers out there that can be great embellishments! If you’ve ever done any scrapbooking, chances are you have some of these in your stash—go take a look and you can probably use lots of stuff you already own in your Bible! It can be a little tricky to get stamp ink that won’t bleed through the Bible pages. I use StazOn because it doesn’t run if it gets wet, but when the ink pad is new it will bleed through. When I first start a new ink pad, I’ll stamp once on a separate piece of paper and then into my Bible to help prevent the ink from bleeding.
There are also a ton of other art supplies you can use in your Bible: acrylic paint, crayons, pastels, etc—the sky’s the limit! But again: this process isn’t about using the best supplies to make the prettiest picture. It’s all about creatively engaging with the Bible text and growing in your relationship with God.
Arden Ratcliff-Mann has an MDiv from Candler School of Theology and currently serves as the Associate Director of Children's Ministries at Liberty United Methodist Church. Originally from Franklin, TN, she now lives in Kansas City, MO, with her husband Biff and adorable cat Loki.