This post is part of a 12 week blog series that highlights the many ways we worship the triune God.
Frankie describes his childhood self as “the art kid.”
“I was the art kid in elementary school. And then throughout junior high and high school, I just kept drawing.” After high school, Frankie pursued art as a career and quickly realized the challenges that come with that. It took a few years and a few different jobs until he eventually landed a role working as an animator on VeggieTales at Big Idea Studios in Nashville. Today, Frankie is a storyboard artist for VeggieTales with Bardel Entertainment in Vancouver.
While visual arts has always been a pervasive part of Frankie’s life, it hasn’t always been a part of his worship. It wasn’t until Frankie’s friend showed him a teaching series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit that he understood how visual art could be used for worship.
“It was never communicated with me,” Frankie says, “[but] when I realized that I could worship with drawing that was huge.” This opened up a whole arena for Frankie: he could now worship the God he loved with the craft he loved. As Frankie explored using art as an expression of worship, he realized that it wasn’t just something that he was free to do; it was something that he was called to do.
THE CHURCH DOESN’T NEED FIVE WIZARDS
Frankie loves the idea of a team. He’s drawn to narratives that are built on a diverse and equipped selection of characters. He comments how in “Lord of Rings there was the wizard and there was the archer. It wasn’t five wizards going out or five warriors going out, it was this balanced team of people.” The New Testament paints a similar picture of the church. The church is a team of incredibly diverse people each with their own strengths and gifts, all working towards the goal of making Jesus known. Here’s where Frankie’s ability to draw comes in. During our conversation, Frankie explained that he worships with his art by using it to build up the church and make Jesus known.
Here are some of the ways he does that.
MORE THAN SERMON DOODLES
Like many people, Frankie will doodle in the margins of his sermon notes. But his doodles are much more than stickmen; they’re expressions of worship which are used to make Jesus known.
He starts by fleshing out the ideas in the sermon by drawing some visuals to go along with his notes. After he’s drawn a few rough sketches, he’ll go home, “draw them up, paint them and put them on the blog and talk about what [he] learnt.” Here’s one sermon doodle blog post he did after a gathering at a church he went to in California.
When Frankie starts these drawings, he doesn’t always know how they will end up. “A lot of the time the drawing changes as I go, because it’s a conversation I’m having. It’s not just something that I visualize in my head and then that’s what I draw. It’s like an idea or a concept that I’m trying to flush out.”
Being inspired by truths of Scripture and making visual art in response to it is a part of Frankie’s personal worship. But he doesn’t keep it private - he uses it to build up the church. Sometimes that looks like posting it to social media platforms, and other times he’ll share it with somebody he feels could use the encouragement.
IT’S NOT “THUS SAITH THE LORD”
More than doodling during a sermon and posting it to his blog, Frankie enjoys making pieces of art to encourage people.
A few years ago, Frankie went through a difficult season in life. After this season had passed, he looked back and recognized that a few of his non-Christian coworkers had been extremely helpful getting him through this rough time. Frankie wanted to thank them in a special way.
“I really wanted to bless these people, and I wanted to be a light and a witness to them.” So he sat down and asked God to give him a visual of something to draw for each person. When a visual came to him, he started creating a piece of art that conveyed a message, a truth of God’s love that they needed to hear. When he gave each of his coworkers their gifts, Frankie says, “I was very transparent about it, they all knew who I was and that I went to church.”
On multiple occasions Frankie’s created a sketch or drawing expressing a specific truth that he sensed someone needed to hear. Reflecting on some of these pieces he says, “It wasn’t ‘thus saith the Lord,’ it was just that I wanted to encourage [them] and here’s a fun drawing to go with it. If it means nothing to [them], it was just scribbles on a piece of paper. If it means something more, awesome.”
Many times these drawings have meant something more or answered someone’s specific prayer requests. But even if they don’t, Frankie acknowledges that “worst case scenario, it’s a pretty drawing. No big deal.”
Towards the end of our conversation, Frankie used an analogy that stuck with me weeks later. He compared his artwork to the work of the moon.
“I really love the moon...because the moon reflects the sun’s glory and light and it affects the tides of the world. That’s kind of like my goal...You want to reflect the Son’s light ... And in all reality you want to affect the world with it.”
In his artwork, but also in his life, Frankie wants to be like the moon. A reflection of the true source of light, a “faithful witness in the skies” as Psalm 89:37 says. But this is not only a call to Frankie, it’s a call for all of us. The skills and talents we’re given aren’t meant to be used privately, we’re called to display God’s glory with the gifts that God has given us and use these gifts to build up the church and make Jesus known. For Frankie, it’s art, and it will often start with something as simple as a doodle.
Thom Peters attends Westside's downtown Vancouver campus where he and his wife serve as youth leaders.