Why dance in church? Is it biblical?

theology of danceThis past weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to meet with the Pastor and the Children’s Ministry Director my church. They had gathered several people who love dance to discuss the possibility of incorporating dance at our church, beginning with children.

This was an answer to prayer. It was such a gift to have these leaders come to me and to ask me to share about dance with them. I have been ministering outside my church in dance through workshops and classes this past year, but have not danced in my church.

It has been hard to imagine dance being welcome in this church. There are just one or two people who raise their hands in worship. Our Pastor and Worship Leader are very intentional to avoid or minimize anything that draws attention to the leader or a specific person. They do this because they want the congregation’s attention focused on the Lord and not the leaders, which I highly respect. The worship team leads from the side of platform and have said that they want to be “invisible” for the same reason. I appreciate their hearts and their humility.

Nonetheless, you can see how it would be hard to see how dancers could lead worship, since the goal is for leaders to be invisible. As dancers, our goal also is to point to the Lord and not to ourselves, but we use a visual art to do this.

In addition, the denomination operates under what is called the “regulative principle,” which basically states that we don’t incorporate anything in the worship service that is not expressly prescribed by scripture. So, if dance is to be incorporated in corporate worship, the Pastor and elders need to have solid theological grounds for doing so.

congregational danceDuring the discussion, my Pastor turned to me and asked,“If someone new came into our church and saw people dancing and asked, ‘Why?’, what would you tell them?”

He wasn’t asking, “Is it okay for Christians to dance?” or, “Can dance be used in evangelism in the community?” He felt secure that the answers to both of those were, “Yes.”

He was asking specifically, “Is dance appropriate in the sanctuary, in corporate worship? Continue reading “Why dance in church? Is it biblical?”

The big deal about the flag

dfh dance conference standard hill
Psalms 60:4 Verse Concepts You have given a banner to those who fear You, That it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah. – Psalm 60:4

In the wake of the heartbreaking shootings in South Carolina last week, there has been a clear call to remove the Confederate flags flying at the state house in South Carolina. Although the Civil War ended 150 years ago, that flag has continued to fly.

The decision to take down the flag may have more than cultural significance. It has the potential to have spiritual significance. Continue reading “The big deal about the flag”

Intercede through movement: Compass about

tree of life 2 peace paradeI love the word “compass” which appears many times in the King James Bible. Sometimes, it’s translated, “surround” in newer versions.

The King James Bible page defines compass as, “To stretch round; to extend so as to embrace the whole;” or “To surround; to environ; to inclose on all sides;” or “To go or walk round.”

Psalm 32:10 says,

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.

Psalm 5:12 says, For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.

The Lord walks around us. His embrace is on all sides. It is protective like a shield, a barrier through which the enemy’s arrows cannot penetrate. The Lord compasses us with mercy and favor, surrounding us with His blessing.

When the people of Israel compassed Jericho, the Lord broke down the walls of the city. (Joshua 6)

When we intercede for others with movement, we can circle them, either with an embrace, wrapping our arms around them, or by walking or dancing in a circle about them. Sometimes when I’m praying for a friend, I will envision them before me and walk around them as I pray. So often, when we pray for someone in bible study, we gather around them to lay hands on them. They are compassed about.

Try this: Compass your child as she or she sleeps. Compass your home as you pray. Take an early morning prayer walk and compass your neighborhood, your office building, your City Hall. As you compass, intercede. through your prayer and your walking, you make a barrier through which the enemy may no longer pass. Embody the Lord’s favor and mercy.

Take a look at these verses as well: Psalm 139:3, Psalm 118:10, Psalm 116:3

Devotions in Motion are Coming

Devotional Dances
From the dance to Psalm 17:8 Hide Me Under the Shadow of Your Wings

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

He also said, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Mathew 6:6

I have found that when preparing to dance in ministry or to teach a class, I need to also be dancing at home in private. When I dance in private, I connect with Jesus. He’s the source of all true creativity, healing, beauty, and power. If I want those things to flow from my dance in ministry, I need to spend time with Him in private.

I also find that there is a battle that goes on inside me in the morning. I know that when I offer my body in praise and worship (that means I move in my devotions) that I experience breakthrough in my life. But something inside me resists moving. I want to sit comfortably under my covers, read the bible, and pray quietly. Now, there are plenty of mornings when I do just that, and it’s a lovely time with God.devotions in motion

But there are many mornings when I know He is saying, “Amy, get on your knees,” or “Amy, you need to move. I want more from you.” I always receive from Him when I’m obedient to Him, and yet, I so often resist it.

So, it’s been really helpful to me to have a pattern of prayer and some simple movements to do early in the day that get me moving. I’ve developed these devotional dances over the years from some of my favorite verses and from choruses to some of my favorite worship choruses.

Based on the acronym  ABIDE, they give me starting point to engage my body, and, by engaging my body, to engage my heart.

I have taught them to classes of children as a pattern for prayer to begin our class, preparing ourselves to worship from the heart.

I’m excited about this project because it is truly accessible to worshipers of all ages and skill levels. The movements come out of expressive sign and can be done first thing in the morning, before you are ready to move your whole body. They can be done in a small place, beside your bed, on your couch, in your prayer closet. Because they consist primarily of upper body movements done in a posture of prayer, you can do them when your family is still asleep without awakening them.

On the videos, I teach these five devotional dances, step-by-step, so you can do them with me. I also include live video footage of me teaching this to a class of children, so that you can see how it works to teach them to a group. You will be blessed by their hearts of worship.

When you purchase Devotions in Motion, the videos will be available to watch online or to download and keep on your own computer. I have my heart set on releasing a physical DVD, but that happen later.

What can you do if you are interested in these videos? If you aren’t already subscribed to my mailing list, make sure you subscribe right now, so that you’ll get an email as soon as it is available. Please also be praying for this project, that I’ll do it in the time and way that is pleasing to Him and that will benefit others.

Take a minute and share in the comments. I’d love to hear what you think. I’d also love to hear how dancing in your devotions makes a difference in your life.

Dancing for Healing and Reconciliation in Pasadena

Dancing for healing and reconciliation PasadenaMany of you have prayed for the Lord to open doors for ministry for me in Pasadena, and so I want to share an answer to those prayers. A new friend, Jill Shook, who has a passion for Jesus and for social justice in the city, has asked me to join her in leading in dance and movement in the Palm Sunday Peace Parade in Pasadena on March 29.

I’m particularly drawn to this opportunity because it’s a chance to bring dance and movement outside the four walls of the church and into the community and to extend the Kingdom of God in my city.  And, you are invited to join us.

Hear, in Jill’s words, what we’re doing and how you can be a part of it:

Join us, all wishing to participate using movement, dance and mime in a public worship of Jesus as the Prince of Peace and also honoring the healing Tree of Life described in Genesis and the Book of Revelation on March 29th, at 3pm as part of the Pasadena Palm Sunday Peace Parade. This will the 13th annual family fun Palm Sunday Peace Parade (where 50+ churches representing hundreds of people, including children who will lead the way taking turns riding a live donkey). Continue reading “Dancing for Healing and Reconciliation in Pasadena”

Making Dance Team Male Friendly

men in praise danceToday’s question about how to make dance team friendly to men was perhaps my favorite for several reasons:

First, the person who asked was already doing it and had such respect and love for the men on her team.

It’s something every dance team needs.

It is something I feel convicted to grow in.

It takes me beyond my own experience, and so encouraged me to draw from others, including men.

Here’s what she asked:

“I love my brothers in the men’s group.   I guess my concern is that I would love to have songs that would minister to them and be more masculine and strong in Christ.  One of the issues I have with young men is letting them know that it’s ‘manly’ to praise God.”
Asking this question reflects your love and concern for your brothers in Christ and your desire to adjust your leadership to minister to them. You are wise and you are considering others better than yourself (Philippians 2:3).
As you already know, it is manly to worship God. All the priests God called to minister to him in the old testament were men, and we know that “David danced with all his might.” 2 Samuel 2:16.
Choreograph movements for your men that show strength, rather than flowing movements.  You can use contrasting movements between the men and the women, the men using strong, angular movements, while women use round or flourishing movements. The contrast will also enhance your choreography. It will also more fully express the image of God, whose image is reflected in men and women together (Genesis 5:2)
Choose songs that express the greatness of God as our leader, our Almighty, or songs that express sonship, rather than songs that talk about our love affair with God.
Also, look for men who can take leadership on your team and give them the opportunity to do this.
Biblical basis of dance
Click image for more details


Use active word studies in your rehearsal time. In these, have your your group demonstrate other dance words found in the bible that call for a variety of movement types.

The Hebrew word Karar (translated dance or dancing and found in 2 Samuel 6:14) means to whirl like a battering ram. Nathar (translated undo or make loose is found in Isaiah 58:6) means to jump, shake, untie, and terrify. And Tnuphaw, (translated wave, wave offering, move, lift up, or strike and found in throughout Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers) while it indicates a waving motion, is a wave that is a weapon, driving out the enemy. See the Dance, Dance, Dance! book and DVD by Lynn Hayden for more explanation of these words and many more examples.
Having men on your team actually gives you the impetus to do what is good for all of us to practice – varying our choreography and song choice, sharing leadership, and digging deeper into God’s word to understand and embody the movement He describes.
Please join the discussion. Respond in the comments section (at the beginning of the post).
If you are a man, what else would you like to see in praise dance teams in order to include more men?
If you have men on your team, what do you do that works well with them?


Dealing with Difficult Team Members

difficult praise dance teamsThis is the fourth of a five part series on dealing with team related issues. If you haven’t read the previous issues. Make sure to do that.

All of the questions so far have related to team leaders. Today’s question is from a team member. It’s a question many people can relate to, whether on a dance team or in a small group. The details may differ, but the heart of the question is the same:

How do you deal with team members who dominate discussions?

How should you respond when someone rides roughshod over your questions or ideas?

Should you speak up during practice? If you don’t, will your ideas ever be heard?

I drew heavily from Lynn Hayden’s book, Team Terrificus in answering this question. I highly encourage you to get it, if you don’t have it.

Here’s her specific dilemma:

You are on a dance team and there is another member who interrupts when you’re talking to the dance leader and turns that leaders attention to them.  You don’t get to finish what you were saying. Other times, you get a vision for the ideal that your leader is explaining, so you ask a question so you can get a better understanding, when a team member interrupts with her own ideal of that vision. The leader runs with the ideal never letting you finish that particular conversation. How do you handle this?
Having a team member who has a tendency to dominate can try your patience.  Not taking offense when you are overlooked takes genuine humility from the Spirit.
You can help your leader by saving your own questions and suggestions for a time after practice. Sometimes, when the leader is sharing his/ or her vision or choreography and one person interjects to ask a clarifying question or to share ideas, it opens a floodgate of questions and comments that might eventually have been addressed. If you can hold off until your leader has finished or even wait to talk to him/her after rehearsal, you help create a more peaceful atmosphere in rehearsal.
Also, do a quick heart check to make sure your frustration isn’t coming from pride. Can you lay down your desire to be heard? Trust the Lord to bring about His purposes through you. I’ve seen this principle hold true in many areas of my life. When I’ve had a burning desire to put forward my own idea, plan, take on an issue, but the door has seemed closed to do this. When I have taken the issue to God in prayer and laid it at his feet, He has surprised me by. To me, this is an example of James 1:xxx, “Humble yourself under the Mighty hand of God, and He will lift you up in due time.
If, over time, and after you have prayed about it, the issue persists and so do your feelings, take your dance leader out for coffee or lunch. Share with you how this person’s behavior is affecting you and how you feel about it. Be respectful and be vulnerable. It is possible that what you are feeling she also has also noticed. It may be that by you humbly sharing your heart about it, you will validate what she already sensed but needed confirmation on in order to act. Ask her if there is anything you can do to help.
Read tomorrow to hear some practical ideas about how to encourage men to participate on the team. These ideas have come from more experienced leaders than I and from other men themselves. You’ll go away with some ideas you can use.


Helping the Child who Loves Performance over Worship

performance vs worshipHave you ever had a student on your team that didn’t seem to get the heart of worship?

Have you had a student who struggles to catch on but isn’t willing to work to learn?

Have you had a student whom you have questioned whether she should continue on the team?

Read on to hear about my experience with a student like that and how God led me to respond.

You have a team member, a young girl who loves to dress up and dance in front of people, but she doesn’t really seem to get worship yet.  She resists working hard in rehearsal. As a result, when dancing, she didn’t know her part well. She has to watch others and appears nervous and self conscious. Even so, she is eager to be on the team.

I had this happen several years ago and was encouraged to discourage this child from participating on the worship team. I considered that, but because she really wanted to be on the team and because her mother, who was also on the team, had such a heart for worship that she really sought to impart to her daughter, I felt I needed to try to work with her.

My experience with this child prompted me to be more deliberate with my whole team in calling them to worship and minister and preparing them to do this. I clarified my expectations of dancers in our covenant (see earlier post).

In addition, I increased the time I spent praying for and with my team and the time we spent preparing spiritually for dance presentations. I asked everyone to be reading scripture daily and meditating on the words to the songs. I was more intentional about keeping the vision before the team, a vision to minister and worship so that God can work in people’s hearts.

I also guarded my own thoughts towards this child. I would say to myself over and over, “___________ is going to be worshipful and graceful when we dance.”

On the practical side, I adjusted my rehearsal times so that the children’s rehearsals were shorter than the adults, and sometimes were separate. I spoke to her mother and asked her to make sure the girl had a book to read if she needed to stay for the adult portion. Sometimes I gave her a task to do to be helpful during this time, like holding the camera while we recorded portions of the dance. And, finally, I had a mother who offered to bring a simple healthy snack to rehearsals. Giving the children a short break and food to eat, helped her stamina.

dance team solutions
Click image for more information.

This child really grew in her understanding of worship and ministry. In addition, she began taking a dance class outside of dance team, which helped her technique. The biblical principle for me was love, which bears all things and believes all things.

A fantastic resource for team related issues is the book Team Terrificus, by Lynn Hayden. She asks questions like this and many more that will help you solve team related issues by practicing the fruit of the Spirit and common sense wisdom.

How about you? How have you responded to children (or adults) on your team who seem to enjoy performing, but do not yet have a heart for worship?

Please share in the comments section (at the beginning of the post).

Read tomorrow to hear how do deal with a difficult teammate.

Do Technique and Choreograph Stifle Prophetic Dance

prophetic dance techniqueHow do you hold together Spirit led, heart felt worship dance with dance technique and training?

Several worship leaders asked a version of this burning question. Their wording differed, the issue was the same.

I chose this scenario, perhaps an extreme example of the dilemma. I hope it helps.

You have a team member resists technique training. She has always danced prophetically and spontaneously. She says technique and choreography stifle the Spirit. How do you respond to her?

The biblical principle here is integrity. Separating worship from hard work and skill creates a false dichotomy. Seek to always maintain a connection between technique training and worship and ministry.

Spend time with the team sharing your heart about technique and its value in dance ministry. Emphasize that our focus, in practicing technique, is on helping each person to grow, not on attaining some level of perfection.

I Corinthians 10:31 says, “In all you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

In Ecclesiastes 9:10, it says,  “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”

From these passages, we know that God wants us to do our very best in whatever we do. Technique training equips us to do this. Emphasize that it is a gift to be able to improve in technique as a dancer. It enables our body to better demonstrate what the Spirit moves us to communicate. In addition, it gives us credibility to bring God’s messages before more people, when we have honed our skill.

As it says in Proverbs 22:29 it says, “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”

By using praise songs for technique practice, you will help keep the team members’ hearts worshiping even when learning technique. By teaching how different movements and steps can be used to communicate the heart of different worship words or expressions, your team will see technique as a tool to help them more faithfully embody worship. In these ways, try to win your sister over to the value of technique without confronting her straight on.

If the dancer still seemed uncomfortable with or resistant to technique and choreography, invite her out for coffee or for lunch. Listen to her  heart for dance ministry and ask her about her experiences dancing prophetically, seeking to understand.

Ask her if she feels called to be on the team, understanding that part of the mission and vision God has given you involves helping the team grow in skill. Assure her that, when choreographing, that you pray and listen to the Spirit.

If you sense a true heart for worship and desire to serve, invite her to lead some spontaneous times of worship in team practice. If you sense that her prophetic calling was genuine and powerful, give her opportunities to dance spontaneously for portions of songs, asking her to prepare by listening to and praying over the music, but give her the freedom to dance her part spontaneously.

prophetic dance DVD
Click image for more information
Divine Choreography DVD cover
Click image for more information.

For more help, take a look at the Prophetic dance book and DVD by Lynn Hayden, of Dancing for Him, as well as her Divine Choreography book and DVD on .

There are so many gifted and wise worship dancers who read these articles, so please, chime into the discussion. Add your input in the comments section (which is at the beginning of the post).

How do you hold  together Spirit led dance and technique and choreography?

What part does each play in your ministry?

What else would you tell this leader?

Read tomorrow’s post about a worship leader who had a girl on the team who really didn’t grasp the heart of worship, affecting not just her participation in ministry, but affecting the whole team.


Improve Attendance at Praise Dance Practice

dance leaders questionLast week I asked you to share what team related issues you are facing. I got some great questions, many of them expressed by multiple people, showing that they are common challenges for team leaders.

Over the next week, I’m going to respond to five questions. I’ve sought to  guide with biblical principles as well as to share from my own experience.

This first question was the most common question I received, so I’ll start with it?

1. How do you get children to attend praise dance practice regularly? 

The biblical principle here is faithfulness. It’s calling each other to let your “‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’” as Jesus instructed us in Matthew 5:37. Having both parents and children sign a written covenant before joining the team and/or before beginning rehearsals for a special occasion really helps with attendance. Faithfulness is important for children and parents. As God is faithful, His children need to grow in faithfulness. This means keeping the commitments we make to each other.

dancer's covenant
Having a covenant with our dancers calls them to faithfulness and helps them to know clearly what that looks like.

In our dancer’s covenant, I detail how many of the rehearsals a dancer must attend to be take part in a dance. (For example, they must attend 8 out of 10 or 9 out of 12 in order to participate. I leave room for them to miss a couple, understanding that life sometimes necessitates that.) I ask them to prayerfully consider the commitment before agreeing to dance. I also sign this covenant.

I make other commitments to them as well. I commit to pray for them, to prepare for our rehearsals and to teach biblically. So, they understand that we are committing to each other.

I also communicate with parents about my heart on this matter. I emphasize to the parents that I want the children to know the dance well enough to be free to truly worship. If there is a child who misses rehearsals early on, I’ll make a point to check in with them, seeing if anything is wrong.

In addition, I try to think practically, making sure my rehearsal times are family friendly times. When it’s possible to piggy back rehearsal time to a time when adults are at church too, that helps. This shows respect for the family schedule and the parents’ time and is what I appreciate as a parent “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” Luke 6:31

I’d love to hear from you. Please share in the comments section (at the beginning of the post).

If your team has a dancer’s covenant, how has that helped with team attendance?

What other strategies/approaches would you suggest to a leader to help with attendance?

Watch for these upcoming posts:

Thursday: Holding together Technique Training, Choreography and Spirit-Led Worship

Friday: Helping the Child who Loves Performing More than Worshiping

Saturday: Dealing with the Dominant Team Member

Sunday: Making Your Dance Team Male-Friendly