Discipleship is Not A Paint-by-Number Project

Discipleship is Not A Paint-by-Number Project

At the end of March, in the early days of the pandemic, I ordered a paint-by-numbers kit online. The world was so uncertain and each day felt overwhelming with all of the change. The paint-by-numbers canvas gave me a fun project to focus on. The canvas had tiny little numbers, clear instructions, each paint matches with a specific area. I had a goal and didn’t have to think much about how to complete the painting. I spent a few nights painting the canvas working through one color, then the next. I don’t know what distracted me, but eventually the paint-by-numbers canvas got put off to the side, unfinished. When moving into a new apartment this fall, I found the canvas and thought about how it might relate to discipleship.
Discipleship is not a paint-by-numbers! We might wish for clear instructions, a formula to follow, to encourage others to follow Jesus. But our faith is so much bigger than a small set of paints and a canvas. Even if we tried to break down discipleship to clear numbered lists or activities to follow, we wouldn’t end up with the same result. I believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in each person and nurtures a personal relationship with God.
If there is a similarity to art and a faith journey, it might be like art class in elementary school. In school, you learn the basics of painting, the color wheel, mixing colors, how to draw various shapes, etc. Even the most unartistic student might find some medium that sparks some inner creativity. Art programs in school hope to expose students to a variety of art which they can explore on their own and learn to express themselves creatively. I have fond memories of paper collage projects, printmaking, watercolors, oil paints, and more! 
I believe discipleship is about sharing the rich history of the Christian faith and the many ways Christians express their faith today. Learning to follow Jesus can happen through singing, walking in nature, participating in a protest, or reading a book. When we remember that discipleship is not a paint-by-numbers, we allow each person to create their own faith filled canvas with their own encounters of the Divine. Sometimes the canvas might be put aside for a period of time, but it will always be available whenever our faith journey resumes. Let us rejoice in the sacred beauty and wonder in our discipleship and creative journeys!

The Reverend Laura Kisthardt serves as Associate Pastor at First Congregational Church of Southington. Originally from Northeast Ohio, she has called Connecticut home for the past three years. In her spare time, Laura enjoys visiting art museums, reading, and walking outside. 


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Laura Kisthardt

Laura Kisthardt is Associate Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Southington, CT.

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