Welcome to the Clown Ministry Department
So, What Is Clown Ministry?
– Dean Cotton, WCA Ministry Director
Ministry means different things to different people. And when you place the word “clown” in front of ministry, it can become even more confusing. So in this article I will try to explain what Clown Ministry is and is not, to me. I looked up ministry in an online dictionary. It stated: Ministry – the action of ministering. Hmmm… Not very helpful, although I do like the word “action”. Ministry is doing something, it involves action. So here is my try at defining clown ministry – the action of sharing God’s love through laughter, using the art of clowning. Telling people that the God who created the universe, the world and everything in it, loves each person.
Clown Ministry can take many forms.
Building bridges - Not over rivers or ravines, but between people. Clowns can be used to draw people and provide opportunities for relationships to form between people. I have twisted balloons in public parks or at city events and as families stopped to get balloon creations and visit with the clown, local church members have a chance to meet them and invite them to events. I have also performed shows in temporary housing areas after the Japan Tsunami and I did not share anything religious. The reason for the performance was to provide an event for the survivors to get together and provide hope, smiles and laughter and give them an opportunity to meet our missionary friends who were providing relief materials.
Teaching Lessons - Clowning can be used to teach a lesson as many do in schools, libraries, daycares, etc. Those lessons are for the overall good of the physical person. Avoid drugs, read books, don’t bully, stranger danger. The same is true for ministry. Clowning can be used to teach a lesson from the Bible. At my church we sometimes introduce the Sunday School lesson for the day using an object lesson or skit during the group opening session with all the children. Following the group time they break into grade levels for the remainder of the class with their teachers.
Performing programs - which share God’s love and the gospel.There is a gathering of people – a children’s church service, an Upward Sports awards program, a house church, a village in the jungle, a school assembly - and the clown team performs a program which includes a skit that presents a bible lesson or the gospel message.
If I may at this point I would like to interject my feelings about these types of programs. Some folks feel that in a program like this every skit, bit and gag in the program needs to be focused on a lesson or religious teaching. I choose a different stagey. We can’t forget that clowns are supposed to be funny! So I feel we need to meet the expectations of the audience (to be funny) and in doing that, earn the right to be heard. So the programs that I plan involve mostly fun, funny, audience participation kinds of skits, bits and gags and the skit that shares the main message for that program is placed near the end. I also like to have a skit in the middle of the program that foreshadows the message at the end.
I know that clown ministry is even more than what I have written about. Sharing Gods love in nursing homes, hospitals, disaster zones also are ministry to me. If you are involved in a ministry that I have not touched on I would like to hear about what you are doing. Please send me an email.
I would like to share one other thing about clown ministry. What I believe it should NOT be. Have you ever heard someone say, “This is good enough. I will just be clowning at church…” And to that I say No. No. A thousand times NO. We need to work towards and strive for excellence because we represent and reflect the Art of Clowning, the WCA, our church and the God who created the world. There is no place for mediocrity in clowning and ministry. One of the defining values of our clown troupe is a desire for excellence in what we do, such that when people see us they will say “those are the best clowns I have ever seen”. Have we arrived yet? No, but we are striving to get better and better.
Oh, and one more thing (really, this is the last one). I am not a “Christian clown”. I like to think of it like this, I am a Christian, a Christ follower, who uses the art of clowning to serve people and to minister the good news, therefore I am a Christian and a clown who is involved in clown ministry.
To those who are involved in ministry I say “Yes, well done.” Carry on, and let’s work together to become the best clowns we can be and help each other to become better ministers. If you feel like you want to get started using your clown character to do ministry, let me know. I will do what I can to help.
Please share your thoughts and questions on this or any other clown ministry topic. You can reach me by email - email@example.com