Four Things I Learned from our Advent Dance

christmas praise dance scarves

I posted this last year after the team I lead at Sherwood Presbyterian Church had the privilege of dancing in worship during Advent.

If you are preparing to dance in worship this advent, I think the lessons I learned will encourage and help you. So, I’m reposting this.

We danced to a song called, “And a Child Will Lead” by a friend and one of my favorite artists, Douglas Eltzroth. It was such a joy and an honor, and the Lord taught me some important lessons in the process. Here they are:

1) Sometimes Less is More: The last two times we danced, we had 8 dancers, this time I started with only myself and 3 others. I couldn’t help wondering if it would be a bit of a letdown for the congregation, if we were going backwards as a ministry. But I chose to take to heart and rest in something I heard Pastor Lynn Hayden of Dancing for Him Ministries teach: We need listen to the Lord about each dance, not thinking  we have to out do each previous dance, but knowing God works uniquely in each one.

Of course, He did have a perfect plan for this dance. Because there were only four of us, I had more time to work with each person on the team. We got to really work through the kinks in the dance. Scheduling was much simpler. We were able to schedule an extra rehearsal easily when we found we needed it. There was an intimacy, focus, and unity to this group that was powerful as well as a joy for me as a leader. In this case, the Lord chose a small group, and less was more.

2) Trust the Holy Spirit with the Choreography and Dancers: I saw the Holy Spirit working through the process of choreographing and forming this dance.  When I first envisioned thus dance, I saw five dancers (working  with an odd number often works better with staging), including a young child. But four agreed to dance, the two children were more young ladies than small children. The young child I felt would be perfect couldn’t commit to the rehearsal schedule and so declined my invitation.  So I choreographed for four.

I loved what God have me for the four of us. Two weeks before dancing, I could still see this young dancer in the final part of the dance.  Her part would be short and simple, but powerful. So I asked her mother again if this young girl might be up for participating in the last few rehearsals. She was delighted. When she entered, she commanded the stage and there was a collective gasp from the congregation. Something about this young girl who danced with power added a critical element to the dance.

The Lord knew what He was doing all along. She didn’t need to be at all the rehearsals (in fact her absence freed the rest of us to work our our parts of the dance). She was available when we needed her and completed the dance. Choreography is a process, The Lord doesn’t reveal everything at once, but he knows what He is doing. I learned to trust Him and be flexible.

3) The Devil is in the Details, so Be Diligent about Details: If we have prepared well in the large things, the Enemy will try to derail us through the small things.

Because of some complicated staging issues with the worship team, we decided not to do a run through of the dance on stage the morning of our worship dance. We warmed up and practiced in another room. I gave my iPod with the song to the sound tech and talked him through all the details about what we needed from him. But I didn’t have him run a sound check.

I know, you’re thinking, “Are you kidding? What were you thinking??” Honestly, I think it was the people pleaser I me that didn’t want to trouble him. (Satan know our weaknesses) The sound tech didn’t think we needed to play the song, and I went along with that, not wanting to be a pest.

When it was time to dance and he started the song, the music was barely audible. The sound technician raised the volume, but we had missed the 8 counts of the song. The song had a dramatic beginning, one I was not willing to miss (one that isn’t recorded on the video – another lesson for me about details).

I did not let this derail us, though. Without flinching, grimacing, or showing distress or annoyance, I turned around and said, “Can you back it up, please?” We started over, and it was quickly forgotten. Nonetheless, it was a lesson for me: Do a sound check, always. Don’t leave room for the enemy to bring trouble.

4) God is Greater than the Details and Greater than the Enemy. The dance had the impact we prayed for. The team loved dancing, we worshiped, Jesus was present, and ministry happened. A first-time visitor at our church approached one team member afterwards, hugged her, and said,  “I’ve always wanted to see a worship dance.” The Lord prepared a gift for this visitor long before she visited. Not only that, the woman asked the team member (for whom I had prayed that morning that the Lord would encourage her that day and affirm her as a dancer), “Have you been dancing ever since you were a little girl?”

A man in our congregation said to me, “Dance has never really spoken to me, but what you do with the children moves me deeply. I can’t really explain it.” The Lord had been present and had touched him through the dance.

In I John 4:4 it is written, “Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.” God is greater than the enemy and His grace covers our shortcomings. He desires to touch and bless people through the dance, and if we are submitted to Him, His purposes prevail even if not every details is perfect. Glory to Him.

What has the Lord taught you recently about preparing to minister? Please share in the comments (the comment button is at top, just before article). I would love to hear, and it will help others.

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