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Ministering With Clowns

Clowns make children laugh. Smile. Snicker. Clowns can captivate a child without saying a word. And a clown can teach a lesson a child will never forget.

Clowning involves more than donning a clown costume and putting on clown makeup. Develop a purpose for your character. The clown should demonstrate a child-like faith and act with God-like acceptance of everyone. This character should give away love and share joy when interacting with children.

Floyd Shaffer, the authority in Christian clown ministry, has written the best resources available for clown ministry. To use clowns in your ministry, be sensitive to the developmental differences of children of different ages.

· Preschoolers-Maintain a distance from young children and gesture your greeting. If you see a favorable response, you may move closer, but be prepared to move away if your clown frightens a child. Preschool children often fear a white-faced or highly animated clown.

Don't think you always have to wear the entire clowning garb with children this age. Consider doing a skit with just a clown hat or red nose. Large clown props such as a comb, toothbrush or fluffy bath towel will capture children's attention.

· K-3-Clowns make good greeters to shake hands or pat heads of children coming to class. Have a clown create interest in a subject. For example, give the clown a treasure chest labeled "World's Greatest Treasure." As a child comes close to peek, have the clown open the lid to show a picture of Jesus inside.

Children at this age may enjoy face painting. Paint different faces that reflect different moods such as happiness, sadness, worry or fear. Have an entire group of children express actions and show feelings with their faces and bodies as you tell a story.

Children also love parades. Create a parade of children with clowns to promote an upcoming event such as vacation Bible school. Have children parade into a worship service with the clowns to make an announcement. Or have children parade through a neighborhood, local mall or the church's Sunday school classes.

· Grades 4-6-By the time children become fourth- to sixth-graders, they enjoy watching clown skits, especially if they don't have to become too involved in the skits.

Children may antagonize a clown by stepping on his toes, pulling his nose or stealing his props. A clown must be prepared with clever visual tools such as magic objects. Remember, a clown shouldn't retaliate with evil but with kindness.

Sixth-graders may enjoy becoming part of a clown ministry team. If you have interested kids, teach them how to correctly put on clown makeup, to develop a clown character and to do skits to be presented to their peers or younger children.

A team of sixth-grade clowns can also provide an important ministry by visiting children in the hospital. Have clowns minister by waving, blowing kisses, giving away cheery get-well cards. Or have clowns visit local retirement communities or nursing homes.

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