How to Invite Your Congregation to Join the Dance


My friend, Marcia Cody of Highest Praise Dance Fitness says, “Worship is not a spectator sport.” In my church, when the team dances, the congregation watches. They are blessed through this ministry, and our prayer is that we embody their worship, giving voice and movement to it. But this Sunday, I had the privilege of inviting the congregation to join me in moving in worship. I had asked my pastor, who is also my husband, if I could share a dance at our end of year worship service. He responded with an amazing invitation and suggestion: “Here’s another thought – what if you shared a 5-minute testimony/teaching in terms of what worship dance means to you and the other dancers? It could include some dance movements but would equip and inspire the congregation to use their bodies in private and public worship

This was an amazing invitation because this would be totally new for our congregation. We are not a hand-raising, dancing congregation. We have a congregation of amazing servants, people who love Jesus, serve Him, and show their love for Him by loving each other in tangible ways. As Presbyterians, we value the life of the mind, and as a group, our congregation is more wary of very emotional or physical displays of affection in worship. Even having a team of dancers present worship dances is a stretch for some. So, to invite them to join the dance was entering new territory. I knew this was what God would want from me. Jocelyn Richard says that we know we are successful in worship dancing when the congregation joins the worship. So, I set aside the dance that I had on my mind and prayed about a worship song that was familiar to our congregation and lent itself to simple movements.

Here are five things I found helpful in inviting the congregation to move that can help you when you lead your congregation in movement:congregational movement photo1

1. I began with a brief teaching. During the service, my pastor gave me five minutes to share a testimony of how God has worked in my life through dance over the last year and to do a very brief teaching on the biblical basis for dance in the bible and how dance has impacted my relationship with the Lord. Sharing the biblical basis for dance helped open their minds to something new. Shared my own story helped open their hearts.

2.I chose a song that was familiar to the congregation and lent itself to movement. I didn’t want them to be focusing on learning new words or new music. We used a song we have worshiped to many times over.

3. I choreographed simple movements to the chorus for the congregation. Simple is the key. Lynn Hayden of Dancing for Him Ministries says, in her video “Corporate Worship” that when leading corporate worship, our movements should be simple, repetitive, and predictable (in contrast to choreographed movements for solos or for a team). I had to discipline myself to keep the motions simple. Even so, when I asked my husband how the experience was for him, he said, “Good, but I find I have to really concentrate to remember what to do.” That was a huge lesson for me for next time. Even what feels simple to me (and the enemy tells me is too simple, will be boring) is a stretch to someone learning it for the first time and wanting to worship as they do something new. So, keep it simple.congregational movement3

4. I taught the movements to the congregation and explained what they meant. As I taught each gesture, I briefly told what we are saying (ie, “We put our hands by our mouth and extend them outwards, taking God’s blessing and releasing it,” and “We lift our hands up to the Lord as an expression of offering ourselves to him.”). A couple of people told me afterwards that this was an important part for them, that they appreciated knowing what the movements meant.

5. I danced the verses myself. This was at the suggestion of my friend and prayer partner Jennifer Bodde. This kept what I needed the congregation to do short and simple, and allowed for a time for them to receive ministry through the dance as well.

It was such a joy and a privilege to be able to share dance in this way with my congregation. A friend approached me afterwards, whom I didn’t know had any interest in dancing, and told me that she wants to attend a workshop I am holding in February in my church. It reminded me that while there are those for whom dancing is a stretch, there are also those waiting for an invitation to join in dance.

What are your experiences in leading your congregation in movement? Please share in the comments.

 

 

Our Advent Worship Dance – 4 Things I Learned

The dance team that I lead at Sherwood Presbyterian Church had the privilege of dancing in worship last Sunday. 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.

A Christmas Gift to Jesus

redgiftinhandbranding When my oldest son went to preschool, his class prepared a Christmas program to present to the parents. His teacher told them as they practiced for this big event, “This is your Christmas gift to Jesus.” My son, who doesn’t normally care for performing, set his heart on being a wise man, practiced diligently, and walked tall, bearing a crown and toting a box of frankincense. I loved the way his teacher framed their program – as a gift for Jesus, something they could put their heart into, do their best and offer to the Lord.

I admit, while I love receiving gifts, buying gifts often feels stressful to me. Will they like what I chose? Can I afford what they would like most? Have I chosen the right color, style, size, etc. But when I have a gift that I am confident is just right for my loved one, one that fits them to a tee and that expresses my love to them, I love giving the gift. It gives me joy anticipating when I can give it. Giving just the right gift is a delight. So, when I prepare to dance during advent, I remind myself that this is my Christmas gift to the Lord (and to His people). It infuses rehearsals with a greater joy and purpose. I tell my team, “This is your Christmas gift to the Lord.” The children walk taller knowing that they have something to give the Lord who has given so much to them. Of course, every gift to the Lord is simply returning to Him what He has already given us. Nonetheless, He loves it.

Advent rehearsal dance scarvesThis year our dance team is preparing to dance to a song written by a friend of mine, Doug Eltzroth called, “And a Child Shall Lead Them,” based on Isaiah 11:6-9.

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

My team is working hard, we love the choreography. We can’t wait to share the dance with the congregation. The song talks about the healing, reconciliation, peace and restoration that Jesus brings. We are praying for God to bring healing and restoration to individuals and families in our congregation. We are praying for Jesus to work powerfully in people’s lives. We are looking forward to the joy of dancing. And I can’t wait to give this latest gift that I am working on to Jesus.

Are you dancing for advent? I’d love to hear about it (better yet, see videos – feel free to leave a link). I pray that He fills you with joy in the giving and equips you with all you need to offer Him your best.

Matthew 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

Will You Trust Him with the Desires of Your Heart?

amy's heartI’m writing this post from my parents’ home in Arizona. I’m so thankful to be able to spend this holiday with them. It’s been over ten years since I’ve spent Thanksgiving with my parents, as my husband and I decided years ago that flying at Thanksgiving is too costly and difficult. But this year, I felt like I needed to see my family. It had been too long. I wanted my children to spend time with their grandparents sometime during the holidays. Friends prayed for me, and the Lord opened a way. I’m so grateful that He cares about the things that matter to us.

This vacation is bringing a needed rest for me and for my family. I’ve been super busy over the last six months – first completing my website, then writing and finishing my e-book, then preparing to teach at a couple of teleseminars, all the while homeschooling my three boys and teaching worship dance to children. I write this to acknowledge what God has allowed me to to. He allowed me to complete these works, to gain satisfaction from the work, and to touch the lives of others. He has been gracious to me to permitting me space to pursue what’s been on my heart. He has shown that He cares about the things that matter to me.

Accomplishing these ministry projects has come challenges, though. My husband and children have been missing me. I have felt torn between home and ministry, even though they should be one. So, this time while I’m in Arizona is affording me the time to connect better with my children, to play with them, to listen to them, to enjoy them. And it’s offering me time to reflect, to ask the Lord to help me to learn how to order my time aright. (Lord, teach me to number my days aright so that I might gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12) There is always enough time for what He has called us to do; however, I need to be connected enough to Him to distinguish between what He’s really calling me to do and what activities are distractions.

I’m asking Him to give me willingness to let go of anything that is a distraction as well as willingness to give myself to the work that matters most to Him.

I’m asking Him to help me not to be afraid that if I say, “Not my will but yours be done,” that I’ll lose something of value. Isn’t that Satan’s favorite lie, that if we do what God wants, we’ll lose out? That’s the same lie he used in the Garden of Eden. But the truth is, that God is the giver of every good gift and when He does take something from us, He does it for our good. But when we cling to what we think we need/want, we miss out on this good. (Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could have been theirs. Jonah 2:8)

What about you?

What desires of your heart has the Lord allowed to come to fruition this year?

Are you at peace with how your home life integrates with your ministry and how your lifestyle supports your callings to each? If so, I would love to hear how. Please comment and share.

Are you clinging to any worthless idols that stand in the way of receiving grace from the Lord? Remember that God is the gift of every good gift. Don’t be deceived by the enemies lies. Trust the Lord to give you what is truly good.

 

Stewarding a Prophetic Message

 

caution with brandingWhen we minister, we want to bring a word from the Lord.  If I am dancing, I’m not looking to hear people say, “Oh that’s so pretty,”  or , “You’re so graceful.” I cringe if that is the only response I receive after ministering through dance. What I really want and am praying for is that they would hear from the Lord when I dance. His words to them will bring life, it will change them.

In I Peter 4:11 Peter writes,If any man speak, let him speak as if speaking the very words of God.” That’s God’s desire for us, to speak His word; however, any of us who claims to bring a word from the Lord needs to do this soberly. In the book of Jeremiah, the Lord  rails against the false prophets of Jeremiah’s time. We need to be careful, if we think we bring a word from the Lord. A false prophet misrepresents the Lord. They look to please people, but instead lead them astray, inviting God’s wrath.  That’s what most of the prophets in Jeremiah’s time were doing.  So how do we make sure that we aren’t just doing, being false prophets?  This audio gives warnings and encouragements to those who feel called to bring a prophetic message to others. Please excuse the abrupt start to the recording.

Click here to listen or download.

 

 

Holy Visitation – Worship Dance Conference – Sherwood, Oregon – August 15-16, 2014

Holy Visitation flyer

I am so excited to be hosting a Dancing for Him conference in August of 2014. Dancing for Him is an internationally recognized dance ministry that has helped me grow as a dancer and a dance ministry leader. I attended a Dancing for Him Conference on Anderson Island in June of 2013 and came home with  my toolbox full of exciting ideas for choreography, team building, and creative movement as well as full of the Holy Spirit’s joy and power.

So, to be hosting a conference in my neck of the woods is  an incredible opportunity for me to be equipped as a worship dancer, to equip other worship dancers in my area, and to invite the presence of the Holy Spirit more fully on my home church.

Here’s how DFH describes this conference:

Come, let us experience this deep place of worship where life-changes happen. We will see a transformation not only in our dance, but in our selves…Come, let us worship Him together. Then go home not only with fresh ideas, but changed…with Pastor Lynn M. Hayden

Would you love to learn many aspects and concepts of worship/expressive dance?

Would you love to learn some fresh movement and choreography ideas?

Would you love to receive ministry through and be activated in prophetic dance?

Then this conference is for you!

 

For more information about the conference, click here:

 

I did it!

I did it! I’m so proud, really thankful, to have finished this project that I’ve wanted to complete for a month. My husband was out of town, so I stayed up until past midnight for a couple of nights, and got it done. Normally, it’s not my style to work late into the night. I take Psalm 127:2 at face value,

It is vain for you to rise early, come home late, and work so hard for your food. Yes, he can provide for those whom he loves even when they sleep.

I’m usually nodding off around 10:30. But this was a project I couldn’t get done during the day with my kids wanting me, or wanting my computer. And I couldn’t get it done on a normal night after they went to bed, because that’s when my husband and I get to catch up. So, I burned the midnight oil for a couple of nights and, by the grace of God I did it.

I made a 3 minute video introducing my worship dance curriculum for children, And a Child Shall Lead Them – Ten Worship Dance Lessons for Children. This book, which is close to my heart, contains my ten favorite lessons to teach children about dancing for Jesus. In it, I instruct teachers/leaders/parents how to lay a biblical foundation for dance for their children, how to build a vocabulary of worship, how to dance the scriptures, and how to keep a kingdom mindset through it all. The book has clear lesson objectives, lists of songs to choose from, photos, lists additional resources, and two short videos that come with it. I think it’s really valuable and I want to get it into the hands of many parents, dance teachers, and children’s ministry leaders. It’s not cheap, so I know that for someone to buy this curriculum, they need to know what they can expect to receive before they purchase it. That’s why I created the video, to give a brief but meaty overview of what is in this curriculum package.

So, take 3 minutes, click the video above, have a look and let me know what you think.

By the way, I hardly felt tired over the next two days. God gave me grace. It reminds me of a favorite promise of God’s that my mom used to quote on busy days, “and your strength will equal your days,” Deuteronomy 33:25. He gave me strength to match the day.

Is there something you have really wanted to do that keeps getting pushed out by the urgent tasks of your day? Take a couple of nights and burn the midnight oil or get up before dawn. Ask God for strength to meet the day and just do it. You’ll be blessed, and others will through your work.

To purchase this package – which includes a digital download of And a Child Shall Lead Them – Ten Worship Dance Lessons for Children and the accompanying videos click here:

Price: $34

Come be encouraged and inspired.

encouragement teleseminar blurb

 

Next week I have the privilege of being a speaker in a tele summit with six gifted and anointed women, and I would love for you to be there. Think of it as a women’s retreat on the phone. No, you don’t get the weekend away from all your responsibilities at home, but you also don’t have to travel or arrange for your family while you are gone. This is complementary, no cost to you at all.

I’ll be teaching on prayer, the key to advancing God’s kingdom when you serve. You’ll also also receive powerful biblical teaching, encouragement, practical wisdom for staying in shape, and much more. To hear about all the speakers, you can listen to this 4 minute audio to get the whole scoop and to register. audio and registration

The summit will take place Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, October 28, 29, and 30, from 7:00-9:00 PM EST (4:00-7:00 for those of us on the west coast) HOWEVER, it will be recorded, so even if you can’t make a single live session, I encourage you to register. You’ll then be able to download the audio files, but them on your ipod, and receive encouragement and equipping while you run, while you take your morning/evening walk, or while you are driving. Of course, if you can make it live, do it —  you get the interaction, the give aways or special offers (I love those).

So you know, my teaching portion will be from 8:00-8:30 PM (5:00-5:30 PST).

Don’t miss this, I would love to have you there and I know you will be encouraged and equipped. Please feel free to pass it on to any friends whom you think would be interested.

Is God tapping you on the shoulder?

canoe with prayerI used to think that prayer was about me tapping a very busy God on the shoulder and saying, “Lord, _______ is hurting. Please heal her,” or, ‘Lord, __________ is under spiritual attack. Please defend him.” But I’m learning that prayer is more about God tapping a very busy me on the shoulder and saying, “Amy, I want to heal ___________ and I want you to speak it into being.” Or, “Amy, _____________ is under spiritual attack. I’m ready to release power, and I want you to declare my victory in his life.”

When a friend and teacher, Cathy, shared this understanding of prayer with me, it changed the way I prayed. I began to see that prayer is not so much about me convincing God to act in the world as it is about me releasing the authority He has given me through Jesus to bring about His kingdom, to do the good works He stands ready to do in people’s lives.

In John 5:19,20, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.”

In light of this, prayer is more about listening to the Father to find out what He wants to do, and then speaking it into being. If I am willing to listen, to be attentive for that tap on the shoulder, that quiet thought that pops into my mind, for that nudging of the Spirit, I get to be the vehicle He uses to bring healing, deliverance, encouragement, provision that He wants released in someone’s life.

Listening in prayer is much more of a challenge to me than talking. Early on in my marriage, my husband admitted that he didn’t really like praying with me sometimes because I pray so long. Ouch. That hurt. My husband is much less wordy than I am in prayer. Instead, he spends more time listening to God. When he does speak, his prayers are powerful and effective.  From him, and from my friend Cathy, I’m learning to listen for what the Father is up to. Instead of telling God what I need Him to do in someone’s life, I need to listen for what He wants to do into their lives. Then I can pray with confidence, speaking into being His plans to bring about His Kingdom. Sometimes a scripture comes to my mind and I pray it for a person. Other times, I don’t hear anything specific. In those times, I can just say, “Lord, I say ‘Yes,’ to whatever you are doing in that person’s life.”

Some of you have shared specific prayer requests with me, and I am praying for you. I’m working on not just voicing my hopes for you, but listening to what the Father is doing in your life. If you would like me to pray for you, please let me know.

Thank you to those of you who are praying for the dance classes I am teaching now. I have sensed God’s Spirit at work through your prayers.

Let me know how I can pray for you.

vine and branches

 God has called me to lead a prayerful dance ministry. One of my favorite verses is John 15:5  “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

When and only when we stay close to Jesus and His word, we bear fruit in ministry and in our personal lives. That’s what I want – fruit (lives changed, Jesus’s character and love revealed) that will last.

My focus over the next month in Worship Dance Ministries is going to be teaching on prayer and on praying.

I think it’s an incredible privilege to be able to secure help from the God of the whole universe and even greater honor and responsibility to speak His will into being in the lives of others through prayer. God has given us access to all the riches of His power and authority through prayer in Jesus’ name. I love that.

I pray for you in a general way, if you have subscribed to Worship Dance Ministries. If you would like prayer for something specific, please let me know.

If you pray for me this week, please pray for God’s Spirit to work in a special way among the children to whom I’m teaching worship dance right now.