Crayon Exegesis (Or Paint)

Photo by JD Hancock
And now for something completely different . . .

Actually, I was looking for some notes on an activity that I remember doing back in grad school a few times. I remember it being called "crayon exegesis" but it may have just been called "painting exegesis".  I will give credit to my friend and mentor, Rob Gallagher, but he may have ripped it off from someone else.  Who knows.  Anyhow, since I can't find it on the web anywhere else, I shall put it here.  Enjoy!

Instructions for Crayon (or let's make it finger paint) Exegesis:

1.  Set up -

  • Prayerfully choose a passage of Scripture ahead of time.  A narrative passage will usually work better for this exercise.  
  • Provide participants with printouts of the passage.  I recommend that the type face is as large as possible. Consider printing on larger sheets of paper like 11X17" or even larger if possible.
  • Provide participants with plenty of crayons, markers, or finger paint.  Colored pencils are boring.

2.  Begin your time together with prayer, worship, and one or two readings of the chosen passage.

3.  Explain to the participants that the purpose of this time is to reflect deeply upon this passage of Scripture, to begin to exegete it and to listen to what the Spirit of God is saying to them.

4.  Now begin to guide the group through a few readings of the text (alternatively, you may group the following into a single reading).  Be sure to insert prayer and silence as you go.  It is probably best to wait until the end before allowing any discussion.

First Reading - All participants will read silently and use the following colors to shade, highlight, or otherwise mark themes:

Red = passion, blood, anger, sacrifice
Orange = youth, immaturity, insanity
Yellow = happiness, friendship, ease
Green = Growth, nature

Second Reading - Again the participants will read the text and shade, highlight, or otherwise mark the following themes:

Blue = peace, serenity, quiet, purity
Purple = royalty, stature
Black = death, threat, darkness

Third Reading - Participants may now choose any other color and as they read silently through the passage again, mark the text with the following symbols whenever they observe:

Strength = I (vertical line)
Rest or Death = __ (horizontal line)
Growth or Nurturing = @ (swirl)
Action = / (forward slash for "advance" and backslash for "setback or failure")
Movement or Vibration = ~~ (wave)
Unity or Wholeness = O (circle)
Separation = Y (fork)

Final Reading - Leader should slowly read the passage aloud to give participants one last chance to reflect.  They may want to make additions based on the previous instructions.  They should also be encouraged to choose one last color and make any kinds of markings, drawings, short comments or phrases, or whatever they like.  

5. Supply participants with tape and post the creations all around the room.  Give everyone a few minutes to walk around and look at one another's pictures.  End with the following discussion followed by prayer for one another:

  • What new insights or observations did you see today in our passage?
  • What questions about the text do you have?
  • What do you hear God saying to you in His word today?

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