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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Clown Led Worship?

By the logo, you can tell that this is an ELCA congregation, not a LCMS congregation. But I'm not gloating. Many within our own beloved synod, at times, stumble into these eccentricities.

This is soooooo 1975. Like all those Puff, the Magic Dragon love songs that get recycled as "contemporary" worship. Who is this trying to reach? Which demographic is this for? The unchurched clown population? Or maybe the aging and increasingly irrelevant boomers who remember earth shoes and patchouli incense and wax nostalgic for the glory days of Haight-Ashbury.

So what does it mean to be a fool for Christ (1Cor. 4:10)? Isn't the apostle saying that the cross is foolishness to the so-called wisdom of this world? He's not saying we should wear big shoes and greasepaint so people laugh at us. Do I really need to wear a big red ball on my nose in order to be a fool for Christ? How about I just preach the atonement, since that's what the apostle was talking about.

Addendum: I am all for working hard to reach the lost. Usually posts like this elicit complaints that I don't care about missions. I do care. I care a lot. But I think that gimmicks inspired by content-free hysteria do a lot more harm to the cause of Christ than good. I try to be winsome. I make inviting and welcoming guests to church a high priority. Indeed, one of my great interests is to examine how religious belief intersects with popular culture. But disrespecting God by playing circus in His house, mistreating his Word and blaspheming the sacrament are not prudent ways to do evangelization.

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Preachrboy said...

The Episcopalians have been "clowning around" like this for a while.

But this is the first Lutheran Church I have heard is doing it. Guess it's not surprising, since they are in fellowship, after all.

David said...

Maybe a synodical or district official was the guest preacher that Sunday.

Frank said...

Before I went to the "dark side", as part of the church's youth group I participated in a clown lead "service". We all thought that it was cool because we were entertaining the congregation. We even got to play 60's pop songs as background music When I returned to the Church, it was not hard to see that Word and Sacrament was what was missing. Clown services aren't what caused me to renounce my faith, but it sure as hell didn't help matters. This is why some folks think that I'm a little too harsh when it comes to matters of how we worship. For me, if what we do doesn't point to Christ, I can't tolerate it. 15 years as a declared atheist was too long. Why anyone would help others down that path by introducing clowns is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

A few quick comments from a lurker.
1) Enjoy your blog.
2) I went to an LCMS church that once had a sermon with a Mr. Potatoe head doll as the main point of the sermon.(The pastor was usually very solid, but this sermon was delivered by the new vicar.) I think there was something in there about Jesus, but all I remember is that stupid Mr. Potatoe Head Doll.(It was a large hand puppet I think) To date my non lutheran friends mock the LCMS because of this.(I had invited them that day, of all days, to attend church with me.)1990-1993
3) When I was a field engineer, I once attended an LCMS church in New England.(They had just kicked out their confessional lutheran pastor the week or two before.) The intern pastor played some instrument as a sermon. That was it. No Jesus. (This happened in 97-98?)

So I am unsure how clowns would be worse then the above.

I truly hope the seeker movement dies soon. Beyond its bad theology it sure is tacky.

Greg B.

Bob Waters said...

Get thee behind me, Satan.

I shall not comment on ELCA worship services being led be clowns. No, no, no, no, NO!

organshoes said...

We once suffered a pastor (ELCA--the bad old days) 'become' a Roman soldier. Carrying his toddler son's He-Man sword.
Hard to get past that bronze plastic.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that what this reveals is a lack of trust in the Word of God alone, doesn't it? And
that is sad.

The Unseen One said...

As a former Lutheran who is Coulrophobic, this would have scarred me for life.

I'll have to dig out my shirt that says "Can't Sleep! Clowns will eat me!"

Bob Waters said...

Ever see the movie "Killer Clowns from Outer Space?"

Anonymous said...

When I saw this clown-led church services thing,I thought it was a tasteless spoof! I'm not a Christian, have never been a Christian, but do think that the many serious believers shouldn't have the dignity of their faith exposed to this sort of ridiculous insult.

What in the world are the people behind this thinking?

Oh...okay...they're NOT thinking.

Terri said...

This is MY church. I’ve attended Advent Lutheran for 6 years, and have attended EVERY clown worship we’ve had. It is without a doubt one of the most touching services we have all year, and I look forward to every single one of them. If you had ever been to one of them, you wouldn’t be saying some of these hurtful things. So wise up, and attend one before you bash it.

You say clown worship is a sin… that it’s blashpemy… I say that it’s just as moving, just as meaningful, and just as worshipful as any other service. Traditional services sing songs that have been sung for centuries… What’s wrong with worshipping in today’s language? I certainly don’t say “thee” and “thou” on a regular basis… I speak from my heart, and I would give God nothing less than that. Clown-led worship is led from the heart, with a spirit of happiness… If being happy in church is a sin, may I be struck where I stand!

tixie said...

Clown’s Prayer

As I tumble through this life,
help me to create more laughter than tears,
dispense more cheer than gloom,
spread more joy than despair.

Never let me become so indifferent,
that I will fail to see awe in the eyes of a child,
or the wise twinkle in the eyes of the aged
Never let me forget that I have the gift to uplift others,
make them happy, and forget momentarily,
the unpleasantness in their lives.

And in my final moment,
may I hear You whisper:
“When you made my people smile,
you made me smile.”

Clowning has been around for a long time, as this 1980 article from TIME magazine will show:,9171,922136-2,00.html

Having been a member of a clown ministry myself, I can tell you that our services, and others I have seen are very reverent, respectful as we celebrate (yes - celebrate!) the Good News of the Word. Communion is a somber and meaningful experience, often bringing many to tears (and not out of anger or resentment as some of you might expect). When the members of the congregation applaud, they are saying “Amen” with us as we bow before the Cross.

Clowning is not for everyone, and there is a thin line between respectful and over-board, something that clown ministries must remember at all times. I did not watch this video all the way through, so I will not comment on what this particular group has done, but I encourage you to explore clowning a little more before you pass judgment. Some of you may find that you do find it inappropriate, and that is your opinon, but some of you may find it meaningful and moving.

I recently saw this on a fellow blogger’s site (I don’t know him so I hesitate to share his link, but I believe it is from this book: William C. Martin - The Art of Pastoring: Contemplative Reflections):
A church wisely centered in the Word
produces great contentment for the people.
The activities of the church keep them
just busy enough to gain satisfaction,
but do not detract from their loved ones.
They enjoy their pastor
because they do not expect him to be
other than what he is.
Their spirits are nurtured gently
by quiet and solitude and room to be.
They care for one another
without needing certain responses in return.
They share food and song,
sorrow and joy,
and become more and more free from fear.
And when they die they think,
“It was good, is good and will be good.”

I believe that clowning has a good fit for this statement. Others may not. We have had people walk out. That is their choice.

I will admit that I just stumbled upon this post when google-ing something else, so I know nothing about the nature of this site, so I am not going to pass judgement upon your statements above because everyone’s opinons are based upon their own background and experiences. I’m just sharing a little background from a former clown.

This has turned into a blog post of my own! Which is probably what will happen, so if anyone is interested, the link is there. Anyway, I’m not sure if these ramblings are at all important, but I felt a personal need to share.

God Bless.


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