When you think of a faith journal, you probably don’t think of graffiti. A faith journal conjures images of words of prayers, where graffiti makes the mind go straight to bridge underpasses and city buildings.
For Greg Bretz, however, there is a beautiful symmetry between the two, and he proved it with the publication of his first book, Worship Graffiti Faith Building Activity Journal. A coloring book and faith journal for adults, the book is meant to engage readers young and old with artistic flair and Bible-centric themes.
“I had no intention of writing a book, or coloring book, for that matter,” Bretz said. “I was in Lifeway Christian Bookstore about a year and a half ago with my family. As I was walking around, I noticed they had a display of different coloring books. The look, however, was generic (a deer or dove, with a stream and a verse) and it didn’t do much for me, personally.”
Bretz felt that he could come up with a better book that would impact those who worked through it. He felt the Lord nudging him to design a book that would glorify Him. “I told my wife Veronica what I felt I was supposed to do, but I wasn’t sure how to start. How to create and design a Christian coloring book?” Veronica suggested that he write a book in the same style in which he took weekly journal notes at church, a unique idea since Bretz doodles his notes in a creative format.
“Through the last four or five years I had been taking journal notes at church or any time I had a chance to hear a sermon,” Bretz explained. “For me, taking notes keeps me engaged and on point with the message. I, however, take my notes not the usual way, which is not line for line, but graffiti style. Upside down, small to large, different fonts, with little doodles. It just works for me. Veronica stated that I should use these journal notes for the manuscript of my coloring book, and that’s how the idea for a “graffiti” style coloring book was born.”
Bretz spent a couple weeks laying out the design and first ten pages of the book. He felt, however, that it needed something else in order to create a greater impact. So he added a journal, or response, page. The pages on the left side would highlight the graffiti and the pages on the right side would provide space for response and reflection. His friends reviewed his pages, provided suggestions, and encouraged him to keep going with what they considered to be a winning concept.
As Bretz constructed the book, his goal was to provide a creative and fun way for readers to grow in and express their faith. “The graffiti page includes words, phrases, and verses that I felt touched me in some way. If it touched me, I knew it would touch others as well. The idea is for the reader to color this page and be encouraged and strengthened by what they are reading and coloring. The response page takes a theme off the graffiti page and dives deeper into it. I also added a verse that corresponds with the theme. This verse will help the reader understand what they believe about their faith. Then there is a response question about the theme for the reader to answer on their own brick wall.”
Since the book’s publication, God has already used it in various ministries: women’s rehabilitation centers, youth groups, orphanages, and bookstores. “It was really designed for missionaries to take into other countries,” said Bretz, “and it is in three countries at this time. It looks like a simple coloring book but when you open it up, the gospel is front and center.”
Bretz is in the process of finalizing his Spanish version of the book, Graffiti De Alabanza, and will be sending it to his publisher soon. He says the entire process from idea conception, to working out the details of the construction, to completion of this unique book has opened the door for him to meet some inspiring people along the way. It has also shown him the incredible support of his wife and his friends who read drafts along the way.
He also hopes to inspire others. “If you feel that God has given you an idea, invention, or story to write, you need to go for it. Do not let time, lack of resources or inexperience hold you back. All I could give was my effort, and I let God do the rest. If I can do it, you can do it also.”