While music and dance go hand in hand, using the spoken word without music can be very powerful, especially to tell a story, bring a word from the Lord, or to teach through your dance.
If you find a portion of scripture that jumps off the page to you, you don’t have to find a song about that scripture to use it to minister. You can put the spoken word to movement. Likewise, if you find a poem or quote that you think would speak powerfully to others, embodying it with movement can really bring the word to life.
In the video below, I dance to a portion of poetry from A Bride Made Ready by Wesley Scott Amos that gave me a powerful picture of Christ’s relationship with His church and with me.
Let me tell you a little about this inspired book.
I read A Bride Made Ready in two days but will meditate on it for a long time. This poetic book gave me a beautiful picture of what it means to be saved and cherished by Jesus and also to be part of what He has been doing in His Church over the millennia and will one day complete. The author presents theologically sound truths even as he touches the heart with the love story of Jesus and His Church.
I so appreciated that Amos roots his story and teaching in scripture. He holds together two vital truths: It is God who calls, justifies, and sanctifies and by His grace qualifies (Romans 8:30) us to be His and makes us beautiful. At the same time, we have a part in becoming ready for what He has called us to. We walk in faith, in response to His faithfulness; we work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12); we yield to His sanctification; and so we have a part in being made ready. Amos holds these two truths together in every verse of his poem.
The poem also touched my heart, as Amos tells the love story of Jesus and His bride. I was especially moved by the final chapter. In this chapter, Amos describes a scene when the Accuser points out the sin and failings of God’s people throughout history. In response to each accusation, the Lord describes how he sees each man and woman, highlighting deeds done in faith, perfected by Jesus. And these deeds touch His heart, making it swell with love. In each person, the Lord sees a foreshadowing of the great day when His perfected bride, the Church, will worship Him at the wedding feast. This made me love the Lord so much, that He would see such good in us and would make our halting obedience into a thing of great beauty and purpose.
If you would like to learn more about this book, you can find it here.
Have you ever had your worship dance class turn to chaos?
Have you ever tried to teach a group of children who weren’t interested in what you had to share?
Have you ever wondered how experienced teachers seem to effortlessly engage children and hold their interest when it seems like a mystery to you?
Have you ever failed at something you thought you were good at?
I have all done each of those things recently. In this post, I’m going to share my experience and what I learned that is helping me move forward.
First, the background:
Because I’ve put my worship dance class lessons on paper and make them available to others, people think I’m an expert on working with children. Sometimes I start thinking this myself, which is, of course, dangerous. As it says in Proverbs 16:18, Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Are you taking any dance classes right now? If not, I encourage you to, and if you don’t feel you can, I share a super affordable resource for improving your training at home.
As worship dancer said at a workshop I attended, Get training so that your body doesn’t get in the way of what your spirit wants to say.
Jocelyn Richard, my mentor, always encourages her students invest in their training, to take live classes in the studio. This week, I took a modern dance class where I met another sister who has been mentored by Jocelyn, Jennifer Oliver. We took the picture below for Jocelyn, to let her know we were together and were investing in our training. We wanted to make her proud.
I’ve been taking another modern dance class on Saturdays for the past couple of years. You’ve probably heard me share about how challenging this class is. The other students are way above my level, enough so that I often have to talk myself into going (Read my story about this class When is it Okay to Give Up? If you need encouragement.) Even though I often feel super clumsy in class, I can see a big difference in my technique. Pastor Lynn noticed it at the last conference I attended with her. There is nothing like being in a live class where you get stretched beyond your comfort level and receive correction.
Having said that, few of us have the time or resources to take as many live classes as we would like to. We are mothers with kids at home, or we work full time, or we are busy with our own dance ministries. And live classes are expensive. They’re worth it, but you still have to have the money in the bank to write the check. So, most of us don’t take as many classes as we’d like.
What should I wear to minister in dance?
Is what is appropriate for the stage appropriate for the sanctuary?
Do I need to wear layers of skirts when I dance to be holy?
I know that my dance is to be set apart for the LORD’s purposes. What does that mean for what I am to wear?
When I started dancing in worship, my answers to those questions were fairly simple: I was worshiping, so I wore clothes suitable for Sunday worship, ones that were modest, flexible enough to move in, and beautiful. I shopped in regular stores when preparing for a ministry piece, choosing skirts and pants that flowed and tops that fit the color scheme I had been led to. I always kept my eye out for street clothes that could also be dance clothes.
When I connected with the praise dance community and gained training, my answers changed some. I saw and loved what my fellow worship dancers wore – flowing dresses, beautiful overlays, culottes underneath skirts for additional flow and modesty. I learned good reasons to dress this way, for modesty, for beauty, for God’s glory. I started shopping at the websites of anointed worship dancers who created garments specially for worship.
Now I am again part of a start up church for which dancing in worship is unfamiliar to most. It would feel out of place for me to arrive for worship in a long white dress and sequined overlay. To those in worship, it would look like a costume and would set me apart as a performer. So again, I have asked myself the questions above.
My friend, Leslie Passerino, a powerfully anointed dance minister, shared with me an article she wrote as she asked the Lord some of the same questions. The answers the Lord spoke to her spoke to some of my questions, and so I thought they might speak to some of yours. I share this with you humbly, with not intention to tell you what you must or must not wear, but perhaps to give you some freedom to ask the Lord yourself.
Here is what Leslie wrote. (French is her first language. I wish my French was as good as her English. I have left the story in her words.)
Two years ago, I started to question myself about garment….I looked after the “perfect garments” but nothing came on my heart nor through prayer nor through a revelation nor through a dream. N.O.T.H.I.N.G.
So, I doubted that my calling was to be a dance minister or a simple dancer. But the Holy Spirit confirmed me I was called. For sure the garments are to be modest even they are simple. But I desperate to find something. I tried so much, and when I say “so much” I mean it. During two years, I received a lot of opinions from France, from Montreal and from USA…. But nothing resonates in my heart. It was a nightmare. I focused so hard on it that I missed the point.
Garments are important but NOT vital
Garments should fit with your church, your calling and your anointing
Garments should not be about ME but about HIM.
So, I realised that I was totally to much vain here. Need to repent first. So, from end of February 2017 to middle of April I almost did not dance. We had a special event where we, all the dancers, wore red and white garments. After my time off to release my futility and my pride out off me, The Holy Spirit talked to me. He asked me five questions:
How is your church? Answer: cutting edge, trendy, prophetic, caring people, anointed for emotional healing.
How is your city? Answer: full of different people from all nations, a lot of activities outside, trendy, open mind, happy, colorful
What kind of clothes wore Jesus during his ministry? Answer: amazing fabric, one piece, but SIMPLE… not like a king.
Why? If He was dressed as a king it would be difficult to touch Him, to be near of HIM… So, with his “simple clothes” people could come closed to Him and be healed, saved, delivered.
So, what does it mean to you now? Answer: I have to be just me, dance outside, talk to people, love them, pray for them, show them how HE loves them through the movement
Leslie’s answer was that, in her context and for her calling, the layers of flowing garments fit for the daughter of a king were not fitting. She was to wear simple clothing that did not draw attention to herself, distinguish her from those to whom she ministered, or attract attention.
For others, the answer will be different. The answer need not be the same for every dance. What I love about Leslie’s story is that she did not only ask the experts. She asked the Lord, and He gave her an answer. Reading her story gives me freedom. I am grateful for what I have learned from the experts, but it does not exempt me from asking, “What do you want me to wear here, now, with these people?”
Please joint the discussion in the comments section. Feel free to respond honestly.
What do you think? How is your church? How is your city? What does that mean for you? What has the Lord shown you? Do you dress differently in different contexts? Is there any absolute from scripture that you know you must check any revelation you or others receive against?
Anyone who has taught worship dance to children has experienced one of these challenges:
Children using their streamers as swords
A child pouting because they did not get the flag/streamer of their choice
A child getting hit in the head by the flag pole of another child who is unaware
I have a section in my online class Teaching Worship Dance to Children entitled Using Props with a Purpose. In it, I give suggestions for teaching children how and why to use props in such a way that they are tools for ministry and not toys. It’s a helpful section to head off the problems listed above before they happen or how to use them as teachable moments if they do.
But there is a much greater error we can make when using props in worship dance than any of those that the children commonly make. It’s a mistake any one of us is vulnerable to make if we are not careful, and, it can even be a life or death issue.
What is the point of using flags or banners in worship?
Does the bible say anything about worshiping with flags?
Are flags a distraction, drawing people’s attention to the dancer when they should be worshiping?
Have you asked or been asked any of these questions? If so, read on to learn how flags were used in scripture and four important ways you can use them in spiritual warfare and ministry in worship.
In Processionals, Props and Pageantry, Pastor Lynn Hayden talks about the scriptural significance of banners. Scripture uses the words, banner, ensign, flag and standard. All of these are used in reference to warfare and, you will see, are relevant to our worship. Watch this 9-minute video to learn how.
Thanks so much for joining me today. Please join the discussion.
Why do you use flags or banners in worship?
What you have seen the Lord do when you have worshiped with flags?
The ronde de jambe is one of my favorite movements in dance. It is so graceful and communicates reverence and adoration. So, when given the assignment to create a tutorial from Lynn Hayden’s Ballet III DVD, I chose her ronde de jambe sequence. You can watch this 4 minutes video below. Enjoy and feel free to borrow from for your own choreography. Continue reading “Worshipful Ronde de Jambe sequence”
Last October, I felt led to take a sabbatical from my blog and email community for a season. That decision came after a soul searching conversation with my friend Marlita Hill, who has a way of helping draw out from me my heart concerns as well as hopes. You can read more about that conversation here.
Now, I’m standing at the other end of that sabbatical and it’s time to share the gifts that came out of that time with the hope that it will encourage you.
I had a great conversation with my friend Marlita Hill several weeks back. The first thing I said to her, when I saw her that day was, “I’m feeling thwarted.”
On that sunny Thursday morning, I had left the house with grand plans: I would drop my boys off at the co-op where they take classes (I teach there on other days, but Thursday is my day off). After that, I would relish a couple of hours in reflection and post to my blog before meeting Marlita for coffee.