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:
I’m excited and honored to be teaching with Marlita Hill, author of Dancers, Assume the Position and dancer teacher. I feel like God has brought Marlita into my life at just the right time. She has tremendous talent and skill and wants to come alongside me in equipping worship dancers to tell God’s stories in a way that truly connects with people.
You’ll hear more on this later, but please be praying and, if you live near me or feel called to travel to Los Angeles, save the date!
Take 3 minutes to watch this prophetic dance by Marlita and be encouraged:
An early worship dance mentor said this to a group of worshipers at the first praise dance workshop I ever attended.
Her words have been seared in my mind. I was a worshiper before I was a dancer, and dance has been a way to express my worship. I know the Lord looks at my heart much more intently than he looks at my skill level.
For many years, getting training was not a priority for me. I loved worshiping the Lord in private (no credentials required for that) and taught simple movements to children to express the heart of songs.
But these words stayed with me, and at the right time, the Lord opened the door for me to gain more training so that I could more clearly and creatively say with my body what my spirit wanted to say to the Lord. In fact, I’ve completed the Dancing for Him Level 1 Dance Teacher’s Training course. Continue reading “Come Worship and Be Equipped”
This little conversation has been ruminating in my heart and mind every since I had it with my eleven year old. I never would have thought to appreciate hiccups because they are unexpected. In fact, more often than not, I curse the unexpected: Continue reading “Embrace the Unexpected”
Thanks so much to all who responded to my last post. Since it’s been two weeks since I posted at all, you might be wondering if the result of my heart-to-heart talk with my husband was that I would lay down dance ministry for a season.
We did not decide that. Instead, what we did for now was to set aside specific hours in the week for me to work on dance ministry related projects so that, during the rest of the hours, I’m free to serve my family. We also chose some activities that aren’t bearing as much fruit and put them on the shelf. Even though these are activities I enjoy, I’ve agreed to let them go for now, unless I finish those top priority tasks first.
I’m grateful for the time we spent talking, grateful to have unity with my husband, grateful for his practical wisdom and care for me, and grateful to be experiencing more balance and peace at home.
If you are feeling out of balance, don’t be afraid to ask those closest to you, those most affected by your ministry schedule, what they think and what they would like to see. The wisdom and peace you gain will be worth anything you are asked to let go of for a season.
Last night a fellow dancer asked a group of dance ministers in training, “For those of you who are married, how does your dance ministry affect your relationship with your spouse?”
I felt that burning in my heart that says, “This is your question to answer. Speak to it,” and it’s not because I have the balance between home life and dance ministry down. On the contrary. This is something God is dealing with me now.
Maybe he wanted me to speak up to help me keep honest with myself by being honest with others. And maybe He wanted me to speak up because it might be helpful to others who feel the tension between their sense of calling to dance ministry and meeting their responsibilities at home for me to share both where I have failed and what He seems to be saying to me. Continue reading “Dance and Your Home Life”
So many of you prayed for the Holy Visitation Dance conference I hosted last week in Oregon. He answered those prayers and many others, granting us an amazing time of worship, of learning, of healing, and of building relationships.
Read on to hear what we asked of the Lord and how He generously responded as well as to see a 4 minute recap of the conference.
As praise dancers, we can learn from the excellence with which these dancers present. As dancers who know Jesus, we have an important message to speak to them. As dance ministry leaders, if we want to reach youth and keep them dancing for Jesus (instead of giving their gifts and their selves away to the world), here are five things we need to heed:
Young people want to dance. There were 250 students in this performance. Clearly there is a need and a desire for dance leaders and teachers. If you have ever wondered if you are called to reach the youth at your church, take time to pray and listen for that call. There are young people out there who want to dance and are looking for an avenue to develop their gift. Will you help them?
We need to invest in our own training. There are skilled young dancers out there. If we want a voice in their lives, we need to take the art of dance seriously and invest in our own training. This does not mean we can not speak to them until we can outperform them with our technique. But we need to be growing, learning, and gaining skill. It is our anointing that ultimately will enable us to have an impact on their lives, but having skill gives us credibility as well as something to offer them.
What you are doing matters. These kids are going to use dance for good or for evil. If we have the chance to plant seeds for righteous dancing, it could change the trajectory of their lives as well as all the lives they will impact through dance.
Get boys into the act. Women bring beauty, passion, gentleness and refined strength to dance. Men bring strength, humor, power. We are, together, made in the image of God. Dance is more complete, more impactful when you have both men and women dancing. I’m speaking to myself before I’m speaking to anyone else. I’m in my comfort zone with women and young girls. They think like I do, and they dance like I do. It’s comfortable for me to reach them. But this year I’m going to make it my goal to learn to dance with men, to learn from them with the intent that I can bring boys into dance.
Give your dancers something awesome to wear. The kids I saw dancing must have had a ball changing from costume to costume. Their costumes were fun, beautiful, playful, sassy, exciting, and sometimes provocative, depending on the dance. Now, our standards are not the world’s standards, and we are going to teach our dancers to cover up. I said more about this in my earlier post. Even so, these kids, especially girls, want to look beautiful and feel special. In my children’s dance curriculum, I have a whole lesson on teaching kids the difference between empty (vain) dancing and full (worshipful) dancing. So I’m not talking about catering to their vanity. I’m talking about meeting their God-given desire to be lovely (for girls). You can choose modest garments that are also fun and flattering. Don’t ask them to dress in something that looks like a potato sack. Lucie Poirier says, in her book Dancing for the Endtime Harvest that we are to dance for “beauty and for glory.” For an excellent resource on praise dance garments, I highly recommend Jocelyn Richard’s e-book Garments of Glory.
If you read my previous post, Ten Things Worship Dancers Can Learn from the School Dance Team you know how inspired I was by the talent, energy, and commitment at our local high school’s dance performance this past weekend. At the same time, I was also grieved at times and felt convicted that, as a praise dance ministry leader, I (and you) have a message that those girls need to hear. What grieved me the most was how sexual several of their garments and choreography were and how bold they were about this. Now, I didn’t expect to see circle skirts and palazzo pants at a public school dance team performance. While what is appropriate for the stage and studio is not always appropriate for the sanctuary, the converse is also true. I expected to see bodies. But what chagrined me was how outright seductive many the costumes and much of the choreography was.It was not just immodest, it was exploitative. During one dance, I wanted to search out the girls’ dads and say, “Are you okay? I’m so sorry you have to see your daughter doing this.” I don’t think the girls fully realized what their clothing and movements were saying. You could tell they were having so much fun and felt beautiful. I want those girls to know that they are worth more than that, to tell them to respect their own bodies and not offer them to everyone. I want them to know that the King wants them for His daughters. He wants more for them than that. Here’s what they need to hear from adults they respect: Continue reading “What I Wish Every Dance Team Member Knew”