I used to work with a guy named Matt. He was a graphic designer with an incredible ability to create comic book quality illustrations in a matter of minutes. Whenever we had a meeting I would try to sit near him just to see what he would come up with. It was funny to watch him bring an entire battle scene to life using only a cheap plastic pen from work. What was even funnier though was when he would draw during his one-on-one meetings with his boss.
Matt’s boss wasn’t the best at his job and for some reason Matt was the only person he was allowed to manage. It was like they were using Matt as an experiment to see if his boss could manage people. And he couldn’t, so Matt would pass the time in his one-on-one meetings by drawing exquisitely detailed pictures of a fist punching his boss in the face. How he was able to sit three feet away from his boss, alone in a small room, carefully sketching, looking up at his face to get the details right, is beyond me. It’s a gift really. My one regret is that I never invited Matt to church. I would have loved to have seen what he could do with a bulletin.
When I was younger, a bulletin wasn’t a piece of paper that contained sermon notes and info about the pot luck jamboree. It was a canvas. A big, flat surface for me to express my creative skills on during church. And I was like the Pablo Picasso of bulletins. Seriously, my friends called me “Pablo.” OK, that’s a lie, but they should have, because I was a master of the 3 techniques of bulletin drawing.
1. The Fill In
The first thing you need to do when you get a new bulletin is color in all the O’s. Some people will fill in the lowercase e’s and uppercase D’s but if you’re a purist like me you don’t worry about doing that. I think that’s kind of amateur hour. And if you close off a u so that it looks like an o just so you can fill it in, I’m not sure we can be friends any more. Cheater.
2. The Capital Campaign
If your bulletin has a picture or drawing of your church on it, it’s time to do some renovating. Add a pool on the roof. Put some new trees in the middle of the parking lot. Draw a zipline that starts on the steeple. Install a skyscraper on the right hand side. You are the architect and only you can decide how this new campus is really going to look.
3. The Photo Touch Up
Finding a photo of people in your bulletin is like striking “doodle gold.” Usually it’s either a photo of the pastor or of a missionary family you are supporting. If there is a photo of your pastor in your bulletin, please color that, he deserves it for handing out copies of what is essentially his headshot each week. Go slow though, you really want to savor this. A lot of people will tell you that adding a mustache is the best move. I don’t know, it feels a little pedestrian to me. I like working in angry eyebrows or unibrow if I want them to look like me. Working on the teeth is nice too. Just enjoy yourself. Really explore the space.
4. Practice your autograph
The bulletin is a great place to practice your autograph as a kid. As a 6th grader I remember drawing big, loopy J’s in my name. I just knew that someday I would be famous for skateboarding. Or, if you’re a girl you can practice writing your name with the pastor son’s last name who you probably want to marry. Most people want to marry pastor’s kids. We’re flattered by this attention. Really, it’s too much.
5. Illustrate the sermon
My friend William Warren doodles during sermons. It’s actually become his full time gig now he’s done it so often. Conferences hire him to illustrate events. Here’s a sermon he recently illustrated. I guess he’s OK.
My mom never hung any of my bulletin masterpieces on our fridge. I thought they were great and magnet worth. She probably didn’t because my dad was the minister and didn’t like the wicked awesome unibrow I gave him in any of his photos.
Have you ever drawn inside a church bulletin?