By Guest Blogger Deacon Andre Metrejean
Recently a priest I know who takes the new evangelization very seriously discovered a dusty, used “Clown Ministries” manual at his parish. This manual contained a deeply thought-out and organized ministry program for evangelizing through clowns. The manual included activities, sign-up lists, diagrams, and an articulate theology of clown ministry. Slothful hippies did not just slap this thing together one late night over beer and Kinko’s. This program was well thought out, zealous, and highly energetic. Yet it failed (thankfully!).
Humans tend to complicate things. God’s design and plans are simple. They flow from his infinite wisdom. Following our own designs can never be a substitute for following the simple wisdom of the Creator.
God’s plan for the universe and man is laid out in Genesis 1-2 in Hebraic prose. God creates with certain ascendancy, beginning with inanimate beings and then climaxing with the creation of man and woman in complimentary and interdependent relationality. In the beginning God created man and woman, not clowns, nor youth conferences, nor 15 part parish DVD programs. The first positive command to Adam and Eve was “Be fruitful and multiply.” This first command necessarily involves the relational complementary of the other sex. Being fruitful on the natural level involves following God’s plan, namely sexual complementarity. Should the generation of supernatural fruit, those produced in evangelization be any different?
Masculine, Feminine Evangelizers
Not too long ago, I witnessed a small but fruitful evangelizing effort by a large Church Parish. It involved two complimentary components.
The first component involved knocking on doors. One or two parish volunteers would go street by street and knock on each door, introduce themselves, establish some kind of a relationship between the parish and the resident, assess the needs, record any pertinent information, jot down contact numbers, and then move on to the next house. This happened on the first Saturday of every month.
The second component involved a part time evangelizing employee of the parish who would assess all of the information recorded, triage the houses visited, and pick the most pressing. This evangelizer would visit these people during the week (once or twice a month per household) building upon and nurturing the relationship established during the initial visit.
The first component is very masculine and somewhat rugged. It involves boldly going out into the unknown “wilderness” of the parish territory, collecting data, and initiating relationships. The second phase is quite feminine and somewhat domestic. It involves internalizing and assessing data and people, juggling multiple contacts, listening, and nurturing relationships with people in such a way as to bring them closer to the Church. Not surprisingly phase one was always done by men and phase two by a woman. This effort in the new evangelization capitalized on the relational complementation of men and women with success and fruit.
Those involved in the New Evangelization must be creative. Yet our creativity would do well if it followed the contours of the creativity of God, never forgetting that grace builds on nature.