Dancing to the Spoken Word

worship dance poetryIs it okay to dance without music?

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.

Improving Technique: Modern Dance at home

modern dance technique trainingAre 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.

So, today, I want to share with you three free video tutorials and a DVD that you can use at home.
Continue reading “Improving Technique: Modern Dance at home”

Post Sabbatical Reflections

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.

First of all, Continue reading “Post Sabbatical Reflections”

Why I’m taking a Sabbatical

fear-of-laying-it-downI 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.

Instead, Continue reading “Why I’m taking a Sabbatical”

Are you capable?

dancers confidence quoteDo you see yourself as capable?

How confident are you that you can complete the tasks you believe God has given you?

What do you tell yourself about yourself?

As worship dancers, our confidence is so often under attack. We often question our sense of call and whether we are worthy of the assignments we feel called to.

God cares very much about how we see ourselves. What He wants from us and for us is often different and always better than what we believe or deserve.

In this post, I’m going to share about a phrase from the bible that challenged me to change the way I think and speak about myself. I’ve got a gift for you in the post as well. Continue reading “Are you capable?”

Six Quotes for Ministering in the Fullness God Intends

worship dance tele seminarAfter spending a month of Saturday mornings with Marlita Hill and a fantastic group of praise dance ministers for the Dancers! Assume the Position tele-seminar, I want to share with you some of the  most meaningful quotes from the course. As we grasp the truths contained in these quotes, we will gain greater freedom and greater empowerment in our assignments to dance for Him.

1. “We dance not just for ourselves or the event that we are attending. We dance to affect far beyond those sitting in front of us, reaching even tot he parts of the Body that we cannot see.” p. 24, Dancers! Assume the Position

The Body of Christ is connected. Because we are part of that Body, what we do affects the entire Body. God is working out His plans for the world and for His Body through all its members, including us. Marlita used this analogy: If I am making soup, my whole body is actually involved: My hands are cutting onions, my feet are supporting my weight, my heart is beating so I can do the job, my eyes are watching what I’m doing. Each part doing it’s job enables the whole body to make the soup. While each part has a specific role, a critical role, they are part of a bigger picture, in this instance, making soup.

God is doing something in the Body bigger than our dance, which our dance is a part of. He has reasons for the specifics He gives which connect to what He is doing in other parts of the Body, what He is doing in the big picture. What we do needs to fit in with what He is doing in this big picture. This is why it is so important to listen for His instructions. What He wants us to do in _________ (fill in your church, your city) will fit in with what He is doing in the Body of Christ in New York, in Chicago, in Puerto Rico, in Africa. The effect of our dance ripples out to the rest of the Body.

seed cling2. “…there must be a mechanism in place to help the people stay connected to the word long enough for belief to become action and manifestation to occur.” p. 45, Dancers! Assume the Position

Marlita talked about how, in the Body of Christ, there is an enormous gap between the tremendous amount of spiritual truth we hear and the fruit it produces in our lives. As a seed that lands on the ground must cling to the soil in order to germinate, these truths need “cling” to our hearts and minds in order to germinate and produce their intended result: forming us into the image of Christ.

We dancers are a strategic part the mechanism Marlita talks about in the body of Christ to people “cling” to the Word they hear from the pulpit so that it has a chance to take root in their lives. Through our dance, we give people a visual picture of that Word, using Spirit-led songs, that helps the message to stay with the people of God long enough for those truths to take root and produce fruit in their lives.

prophetic movement.jpg3. “Movement is part of the way He speaks. The imagery and dramatization created by physical movement are critical and essential to the way He communicates.” p. 59, Dancers! Assume the Position

We looked at the prophets and saw how God told them specifically how to move in order to communicate His message. For example, He told Ezekiel to lie on his left side for a certain number of days. In doing so, Ezekiel was bearing the iniquity of the people of Israel (Ezekiel 4:4). These movements were critical to the message. As the prophet moved, the Word of God went forth. So, as the Spirit directs us specifically about the movements we use, it is critical we listen and obey. Those movements become His word to groups and individuals, accomplishing in their lives what He intends.

4. “I don’t have to create this (ministry, assignment). I just have to create room in my life to listen.” – Marlita Hill, quote from the seminar.

If God has something to say through our dance and He already knows how He wants to stay it, our job is not to come up with choreography or to muster enough creativity to put on a powerful ministry piece. Our job is to listen to Him. The most challenging and important job we have to do is to make space to hear Him.

5. “Lord, show me who I could delegate some of these tasks to so that I can stay in communion with you about this assignment.” – Marlita Hill, quote from the seminar.

This is a prayer for the times when we’re struggling to see the bigger picture of our assignment because we are absorbed in the administrative, logistical and spiritual aspects of our ministry. The Lord, through Jethro, said to Moses,  “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.” (Exodus 18:17, 18). He then instructed Moses to choose from among the people noble and god-fearing men to serve under him to help settle disputes. So also, the Lord can advise us how to share the practical load of ministry so that we maintain our ever so critical ability to hear from Him.

6. “If you desire to assume the position of true ministry in dance, then regular communion and consultation with God must be a can’t-function-without-it part of your life…..The position we must assume is of one who continually pursues the presence and voice of God and dances out of what we have seen and heard in His presence.” p. 101, Dancers! Assume the Position

This one speaks for itself.

Did any of these quotes speak to you? Please respond in the comments. Which one spoke to you and how can that help you in your ministry? Join the discussion. I’d love to hear from you.

I want to dance like her!

pasadena prophetic movement classI love watching dance. I am enamored by its beauty and captivated when God speaks through a dancer who belongs to Him. There are so many dancers whom I admire, whose ministry has blessed me, and whose talent I appreciate. There  have been three dancers, though, who, when I saw them dance, I whispered the prayer, “Lord, I want to dance like her.”

There was something about the way they danced that spoke deep in my heart and called to me. Mixed with a talent they had honed was an expressiveness to their movement, an ability to tell a story with their movements that drew me in and made me want to understand and remember the story or the heart of their message. Continue reading “I want to dance like her!”

Align Yourself with God’s Purpose for your Dance in 2016

marlita hill teleseminar

Position your dance ministry for greater impact in 2016.

Join me as I host Marlita Hill, author of the revelatory book, Dancers Assume the Position.

Ministry comes through your dance and provides something specific to God, the individuals watching you, the church you serve in, and the body of Christ at-large. However, ministry does not happen through dance just because you are dancing. In this four-part teleseminar,  Marlita Hill will share from her book, Dancers! Assume the Position, to help you:

– Construct a clear picture of the your ministry as a dancer

– Identify the mindset necessary for effective ministry

– Collaborate with God in the various areas of your ministry, including songs choices, choreography, and ministry opportunities

– Clearly trace what the dancer contributes to God, the individual, the congregation, and the body of Christ

– Draw a clear distinction between the activity of dance and ministering through dance, so that God can minister through you, unhindered, and in the fullness of His power.

Fortify your assignment for 2016 with the support and encouragement of a seasoned teacher and fellow dancers.

Join us for this first complementary class or register for the full 4-part series.

When:
Saturdays: January 30, February 6, 13, 20 7:30 – 9:00 AM PST, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM EST

Where:

On your phone or computer (just dial or link in)

register free teleseminar
Click to register for the first class for free

When is it Okay to Give Up? (Part 2)

This blog post is a continuation of yesterday’s blog post: When is it Okay to Quit? You’ll want to read that post first and then, read on…

John Pennington teaching the modern dance class that I've been privileged and challenge to take at ARC studio in Pasadena.
John Pennington teaching the modern dance class that I’ve been privileged and challenge to take at ARC studio in Pasadena.

(from the last post) On a Saturday morning, I showed up for a modern dance class offered by an incredible teacher in our community. I am not being overly humble when I say I am the least skilled dancer in the room. There are dance company leaders, dance teachers of teachers, and professional performers in the class. This class stretches me so much.

I can hold my own for the warm up and enjoy the challenge of the center floor combinations. But I want to disappear when it’s time to go across the floor. The teacher will show a sequence of three to four combinations of movements strung together and then ask us to do them.

If one of his dance moves is a word, and one of his combinations is a sentence, he asks us to write a paragraph while I’m just learning to read, not to mention to write. It’s painful for me. It’s embarrassing.

On this particular Saturday as I struggled across the floor, I thought, “Maybe I should quit. This is so far above me that I don’t even know if I’m taking anything in.”

I thought about my son. Continue reading “When is it Okay to Give Up? (Part 2)”

Recap: When the Spirit Moves Dance Concert

I was blessed to participate in the When the Spirit Moves Dance Concert at Victory Baptist Church this past Sunday. It was an awesome evening and such an honor to be a part of.  Thanks to Valerie Toliver and her team from Highest Praise Dance who organized the evening with excellence, the perfect blend of order that comes from careful planning, and freedom that comes from humbly being open to the Spirit of God. You made space for Him, and He came and blessed all who were there.

I want to share with you four ways where I saw His fingerprints on the event and to share the video of the dance we shared.

For those of you who prayed for this event, thank you so much. Here are some places where we saw His fingerprints on the event. Continue reading “Recap: When the Spirit Moves Dance Concert”