Dance Worship Weekend – what’s the big fuss?

As I’ve been gathering notes for this year’s dance weekend, I started to think about what it was that made people come on a weekend in the first place. Plus, I think it’s always good to remember where our roots are and why we do what we do! In the 9 years I have been running UC Grace, different groups, workshops, training and performances opportunities have evolved, some not even in my planning, but God has placed them in the pathway of UC Grace. At every event I marvel at how God brings it together, who he brings and the impact that the event creates in others. Let me take you on a very short journey of how the dance weekends came about and their impact upon myself and others.

How did it begin?

It began in 2013, when I first started to have discussions with other dancers about whether they’d either value a day retreat or a weekend away, and what it was that they’d see that time away being. Many of the participants at this point had been dancing with me from the beginning and I had watched them grow and develop and were eager for more. However, we all recognised that the odd 90-minute workshop just didn’t cut and we wanted something more! Going back over some of the responses from an initial survey I sent out, it is awesome to see how God has worked in it all.

Defining a weekend away

With just a handful of resources I took the plunge and stepped out to run my first dance weekend. I didn’t know the true amount of work it would take, the people it would bring or that it was just the beginning of many!

My heart was to provide a space that would enable people to grow in their dance worship movement skills, their relationship with God and build relationships and fellowship with others.

So how did it develop?

For that first weekend in 2014, my heart was hopeful that I would get to 15 participants, that didn’t happen. I could have let that disappoint rule how I went forward with my planning. However, God has spoken quite clearly since I began UC Grace that it is about the hearts of those that come to UC Grace events, not about the numbers.

That first year, I was blown away by how God moved, I changed the whole of my Sunday plan on the Sunday morning as I followed Gods lead. We took dancing out of our room and into the centre to bless others in the building, we crowned ourselves with Gods crown, and broke down walls that didn’t need to be there.

Treasure and Truth feedback
Feedback from Treasure and Truth 2014 dance weekend

We did this by standing on God’s word and letting scripture and God’s voice lead the sessions. Since then, that’s how the weekends have developed, God always goes first, even if I’ve spent a long time putting the plan together, because, His plan is the ultimate plan.

Since that first weekend, I always look with delight at the next weekend that will happen, at who God will bring to come and move and dance and grow, to explore what he lays on my heart and how I can help change people’s perspectives on themselves, their movement and their journey with God as my lead.

What’s the soul of the weekend?

This picture below, sums up the soul of the weekends perfectly.

Hugging embrace.
Dance Worship weekend 2018

They say pictures say 1000 words, they demonstrate what can not be said, that is so true. As you look on the outside looking in at this picture. You see a hug, a warm embrace between a group of friends. But what they don’t show you is the journey each of these ladies have been on over the weekend. It doesn’t show the struggles they’ve had to step out in, in their faith, it doesn’t show when times were really tough, it doesn’t show what God has said to them or how they have been taken on a journey.

This picture was taken at the last session of our 2018 dance weekend. We had just had a time of praying and dancing (so important that we do both of those things together), only the ladies in the picture really know what was going on in their journey at that point.

But for me it shows a freeze frame of friendship, support, love, prayer, journey and acceptance that they are letting God lead their journey.

WOW!!

What next?

UC Grace dance weekends have turned into a key fixture in our calendar, something for everyone to look forward to. When I ran my first one in 2014, I didn’t think people would be interested in a yearly weekend, and I began to arrange them bi-annually. It gave me time to develop other ideas and continue to grow other areas of UC Grace.

However, God has been gracious and given me opportunities to grow connections, build friendships and have the privilege to journey with others. I felt UC Grace was at a point where it now needed to offer those dancers and participants who had journeyed with it for nearly 10 years, another opportunity that would take them deeper on a more personal level. That’s where the Going Deeper weekend has come from. So my hope, over the coming years is to have a dance weekend every year, but the essence of the weekend will alternate each year.

Going Deeper will provide a smaller more intimate group to develop their dance worship skills and personal faith journey. Creative dance weekends will allow a larger number to gather in fellowship, experience dancing and learning from others, explore the use of arts and creativity alongside prayer and movement, and be a place to build friendships and generate a network that draws people across the country together.

Have you joined us on one?

Going Deeper 2019 is now fully booked, however we have just released the dates for our 2020 Creative dance weekend – 17th to 19th January. Why not join us, as we celebrate 10 years of UC Grace! Booking will open towards the end of June 2019, if you want to be one of the first to hear about when booking opens and grab the super early bird price click here.

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Teaching Children Dance and Movement Round Up

Teaching children dance and movement exercise one.

What a fantastic day we had learning from each other. The day was split up into 3/4 sections, in each section there was a talk and discussion, an exercise in pairs to put into action what was discussed and then a time of delivery – so practising what they had just planned. Everyone had such different ideas, it was great to spark off each other and encourage those that felt a little shy.

Section 1 – warm up and ice breakers

This is a really important part of the workshop which I chatted about in the blog post 6 Essentials when planning a dance worship workshop. The challenge here was introducing a theme and working out how to devise a warm up based around a theme. The topic of water came up as a common one, but some participants soon realised that they weren’t sure which bit of water to focus on.

Water is a good example of a topic that has so much possibility for a workshop. It’s a key feature in the Bible, creation and our journey of faith. Ideas for inclusion in a warm up included –

  • Ice – freeze/ still movements leading to melting and then adding travelling motion in.
  • River – how the water flows in and around rocks, some of the children being rocks and others being the water that passed around them.
  • Waves – the crashing sound, being tall and small. Rolling on the ground and stretching wide. Spinning a partner out and then having them roll back in along their partners arm.

All the above areas of water can be expanded and padded out loads after the initial warm up. Remember the warm up is an opportunity to have fun, get everyone moving and introduce a small part of the theme.

SAMSUNG CSC

Section 2 – Planning an under 5s workshop. We looked at Psalm 18.28-33 for this section.

“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.”

The sets of verses above provide some awesome imagery with which to design workshops and themes. We used this passage as a starting point thinking about a workshop for under 5s. Just a few things that came out of our initial discussion was:

  • Standing on a rock – strength
  • Light
  • Battle – warfare
  • Refuge
  • Like a travelling song
  • Perfection
  • Scaling a wall

Participants worked in pairs and looked at one section of the workshop plan (Read more about the 6 essentials when planning a dance worship workshop here) putting together an outline of movements, before then teaching it to the rest of the group.

Section 3 – Choreographing a dance for 5 – 11 year olds

How many of you have the song ‘My Lighthouse’ in your church? There are several different actions that have been put to the words of this song – your church might already use some. So, I thought it offered an opportunity for participants to choreograph something that they could use within a workshop or group of children.

Working in groups we looked at the different verses and put together some movement. You can check out what we did below.


We begun the day by looking at why we want to invest in children, what the Bible says and the reasons that brought the participants to the dance day. As we finished the day we spoke about how we can encourage a conversation of prayer during the workshops by having some creative prayer exercises. That by demonstrating how to dance and make it a conversation with God, you can encourage each child to have ownership of their journey of faith and conversation with God.

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6 Essentials when planning a Dance Worship Workshop

Planning is essential in all forms of delivery, whether that is for dance or something different. Throughout nearly 20 years of teaching, I have tried many ways to layout a dance workshop or session, today you get to hear the layout I find most useful!

It might be that you want to create a whole session or just one exercise or series of movements, whatever it is, it is still the same process. We’ll talk in terms of a ‘session’ but the same applies to an exercise/ series of movements.

This post is all with reference to leading a Christian based dance worship workshop of some form. However, all that is shared can be applied in a normal secular context without faith.

Before we get going though, there are a few things that you need to have decided in order to plan the workshop most effectively –

  • Who will be your age or population focus?
  • What is your theme – including the main focus and intended outcome
  • How long is your session and how will you divide elements within the session
  • What is the number of participants that will be at the workshop, or what are your maximum numbers?

Each one of the above can impact the workshop in different ways, so take the time to make it specific to what you are wanting to achieve.

6 essentials when planning a dance worship workshop

So what 6 essential things should I include?

1. Ice breaker

Whether you know the participants well, or they are completely new faces, you can never start a session cold. An ice breaker allows participants the opportunity to begin the session recognising that they are in safe space, that their ‘ability’ won’t be questioned, and that they feel welcomed to see where the workshop will take them.

This initial opening/ ice breaker will set the tone for the rest of the workshop, participants will either be hooked and want to go further or may feel unsure about continuing. Therefore this ‘hook in’ needs to grab their focus, allow participants to tune in with others and get ready to learn what is coming.

Here’s a few ideas that are tried and tested, they are all adaptable for all ages and abilities –

  • What’s your name and where are you from?
  • How has your week been? Can you use one word to describe your week?
  • What brought you to this workshop? What’s one thing that you’d love to learn in this workshop?
  • Say your name and do an action, everyone else copy, work your way round the group.
  • Make a freeze shape of how you are feeling about the workshop at the beginning.

Imagine these 5 minutes (because that’s all it usually is) are your welcome speech, the chance to win the vote of everyone and have them wanting more. Have energy, be friendly, encourage discussion.

2. Warm up

This is so important and should NEVER be by-passed. Not only does it prepare our body, but it also ensures we are safe with our movement, our listening and helps us be our best in the session. So, what do I need to do in a warm up?

Raise the heart rate – it’s important to gradually raise our heart rate and body temperature. This will decrease injuries and increase the body’s ability to move more efficiently.

Create a sense of fun and involvement – look at it as a great opportunity to let them see who you are, how you teach and to get moving with you.

Include dynamic stretches – these are stretches that move and encourage the body to go beyond its normal range of motion, therefore stretching and molding the muscles to work effectively.

Introduce the theme – the warm up is fab place to subtly (or not) introduce your theme. Be creative and be literal, with children a game can be a great place to start.

Exploring movement

3. Exploration

Before you rush head long into a sequence or main part of the workshop, it’s good to lay the foundation of what the session will explore and provide the chance for participants to learn specific moves which may aid them later in the workshop.

You may prefer to call this section exercises, as it allows set themes or movements to be explored that provide focus. For example, if your theme was God’s Breath, here’s one thing you could do –

In a space focus on taking 3 deep breaths, filling and emptying your lungs as much as you can. On the next set of 3 breaths, take yourself up on a rise as you breathe in, and lower as you breathe out. On the next set take a step forward as you breathe in and step back as you breathe out.

This very simple exercise can be developed in whatever way you want to fit in with the participants, and challenge them more if needed. To lengthen and imprint the impact breath can have on initiating movement, ask them to close their eyes as they do the movement. This will do several things –

  • Increase their awareness of their breath and the size of their movement
  • Encourage them to work on their balance and their core
  • Help them to feel the weight in their movement, therefore adding another dynamic to how it can be developed.

Don’t overthink the exploration that you want to do. Provided you know what you want as your intended outcome, this section can be a real fun section to develop.

4. Sequence

Whilst I have called this section ‘sequence’ I recognise that not all workshops will have a sequence as such to learn. So, consider this also the ‘main bit’, the chunk that you really want everyone to grasp from the workshop.

This could involve learning part of a set sequence, group work expanding a Bible verse, song verse, the theme, working with a resource, and so much more!

But what you need to remember, is that whatever you did in the previous section needs to flow with ease into this one, a seamless transition, rather than a stilted connection.

5. Development/ free movement

Up until this point, you will have mostly guided, taught or impressed on participants the best way forward with their movement. This section allows the participant to start to take some ownership over their movement style and how they want to develop.

More often than not, this is where I give my participants a very loose task. I do this because I believe by this point in the workshop, they are capable of simulating movements together themselves and working with a partner or bigger group to create something that flows with the theme from the exploration section, to sequence section to this one. It’s also a great chance for me to sit back and see Gods work in progress, which is the most exciting bit of course!

Supporting through prayer

6. Cool down/ reflection

Just like it’s important to begin with a warm up, it’s also essential to finish with a cool down. This section has two purposes.

The first, to lower heart rates and bring our bodies back to a place they are normally at, using stretches and breathing to do this.

The second, to reflect on the impact of the session, to pray together or with someone individually, or take a moment of quiet. You can never underestimate the impact that a workshop will have on someone. It may not be obvious on the day, but God always moves, even when it’s not visible.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this outline is a process that I have found works well for me. Each of us are individual and all work differently. Take your time to find out what works for you, practise it and let God lead!

Let me know what are your essentials when you’re planning a worship workshop.

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Why use dance and movement through Lent?

Last week, as I sat and looked through the coming events with UC Grace and where they sat in the wider calendar, I suddenly realised that Lent was just a week away. It got me thinking about how Lent is approached in the wider world, and how much emphasis people place on it.

Many people strive to give up things, or try to focus on something specific, but how many actually use those 40 days to draw closer to God, to deepen their relationship with him, learn something new about themselves and God? Probably not as many as we’d think.

Then my thinking all got a bit radical, and I thought, why don’t we dance through Lent??

Lent is set aside as a time of reflection, prayer, and preparation. What better way to prepare ourselves than to move the bodies God has given us in surrender when words don’t suffice.

In him we live and move and have our being… Acts 17.28

This is one of my favourite verses, the essence of dance summed up in 10 words! Tim Hughes song, God of Justice emphasises it very well too, with the phrase ‘move us into action, we must go.’ God moves us into action, fills our hearts and initiates our movements.

So, the idea has grown, to 6 week resource, to encourage us all to step out in some form of movement each day. My heart is that those who are both inexperienced and experienced can access it, with different options for people to dip into depending on their time and circumstance.

The Layout

Each day there is a bible reference and a themed word assigned to it, the word is there to help you prompt other feelings as you do the study.

Over the course of the 6 weeks we are going to look at 4 areas, the Psalms – 2 weeks, Armour of God – 1 week, God’s Truths -2 weeks, and of course the Easter story.

How will it work?

Each Wednesday the next weeks study will come out. When completing the study, there are two levels. If you’re short on time, concentrate on the first 3 questions, these can be done in 10-15 minutes. If you’ve got more time and want to go deeper, do the next set of 3 questions which will also take 10-15 minutes. So, if you decide to do both it can be around a 30 minute movement time!

How much movement will I do?

That is really up to you, the studies are designed so that you can put as much action into them as you want, or if you just want to isolate a single word and do a single action you can do that too.

Do I need to have danced or moved before?

No, this study can provide a great way to introduce you to movement. There is no right or wrong way to move, if you are putting Jesus at the centre of your movement. My encouragement would be to start simple, by thinking of movements connected to words in the literal sense.

What if I don’t understand what to do?

Drop me a message! Ask in the Facebook group! There is a UC Grace worship chatter group where the main ‘talk’ of the series will be happening. This is so other platforms aren’t constantly bombarded with what’s going on.

This sounds awesome! How do I sign up?

Already on my email list? Drop me a message here which says ‘count me in’.

Not on my email list? Then head here …. and I can make sure you get all the information you need.

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Teaching Faith and Dance | Passion, Purpose and Freedom

I was asked recently why I teach, and more specifically why I teach faith and dance together. Big question, that has lots of foundation, journey and hope behind it.

The simple answer is I teach because I love doing it, and I use faith and dance together as I see them as one thing, intertwined together, where one can’t function without the other, so it makes sense to teach them both!

Let me explain a little bit more…

Dance to me is an embodiment of your soul, your heart, your very essence. As you move and dance, more of who you are gets revealed. Often, people know that there is something greater inside them, but to tap into it, to release it… is scary, and not a journey people want to go on, on their own.

Our faith helps us display who God has made us to be, the qualities and purpose he’s written on our lives, things that should be celebrated, encouraged, grown and then released.

My passion… is to help each one of those things to develop, to provide a safe space for people to dig deep into who they are, fall head over heels in love with God, to lay at His cross those things that they are struggling with, to lean with their whole body weight onto God in complete trust, and feel safe and secure in the knowledge that he is for them 100%. But to do that, using the tool dance and movement.

I want to share two stories that helped to lay the foundation of where I have come from with dance.

  1. I began dancing from about 4 years old, tap first, then jazz, and ballet was my last subject. I loved it, it wasn’t my passion at this point, but I chose it over sailing. From an early age I was given the opportunity to take part in Solo’s and duets at competitions… which I enjoyed… but there is one memory that sticks with me. The time when my memory failed me and I forgot my dance. I was embarrassed, upset, ashamed and so much more. It made me shrink back from performances.
  2. Who has felt that tug of the Holy Spirit, the nudge that you should do something, or that total abandonment feeling that the Holy Spirit is there right with you? Who has had that through movement? What an experience! The first time this happened, my eyes were opened to how I could share my heart with God and be lost in the process. There was no pressure to do things a certain way, or wonder about whether I was doing it right. It was just purely sinking into God in that moment to grow closer to him through dance and movement.

Although, two very simple stories, they are what started my journey to where I am now.

The stall in my performance when I was younger has meant that when I get the opportunity to perform now, I must lean on God in every second of the dance and breathe! Such a simple thing, but the breathing keeps me grounded, allows me to focus on breathing in God and remember the movements. There have been many times since then, that I have struggled with performances, and I know during those times it was because I wasn’t leaning on God and trying to do it by myself.

Recognising the nudge from the Holy Spirit has made me more aware of my journey and conversation with God. That important thing, of both talking and then allowing time to listen back. Realising that the reasons you move, may be different to what others may see in your movement. Where you have the chance to be blessed and bless others. To look for the GRACE in that moment and seize that conversation with God.

But how does this bring me to where I am now with teaching about faith and dance?

I mentioned at the beginning about how I see them intertwined as one thing, as you grow in dance, you grow in God. As you grow in God, you expand you dance.

The opportunity to learn and be grounded in dance technique has helped my development of dance, furthermore, the development of my dance and faith together. Allowing the Holy Spirit into this interaction, provides an avenue to dig deep in your faith and who you are.

Living Colour February 2018

Three things have shaped how I have gone on to teach and develop my practice since these stories – Passion, purpose and freedom.

Passion…

To simply share. Share my love for dance, my love for Jesus and my love to encourage others. That as we move and dance our passion shines through to pass on from the youngest to the oldest the knowledge that Jesus is part of our everyday. That he carries us through those moments when we need to both receive and demonstrate grace.

Purpose…

That breathing in Jesus is so important! Breathing him in, to every part of lives, especially when we need him most. Imparting that a solid dance foundation – the understanding of posture, balance, core and travel – are paramount in aiding us to dance and move our best for Jesus. Whilst allowing the space and possibilities of the Holy Spirit to move.

Freedom…

‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free’. When words fail me, movement and dance transpose what’s on my heart. That importance of knowing that you can still have that conversation with God when words fail you, is so important. As I teach with passion and purpose, the ability to pass on the freedom in the Holy Spirit, freedom and comfort to lean on God in ALL circumstances, whether that is using the vehicle of dance or something else.

There is so much to say on the subject, but that’s enough for now. I started teaching informally in 2000, nearly 20 years later I am still going, and I love just as much teaching what I’m passionate about now, as I did then.

Join in me April when I run a dance training day about teaching children, dance and movement using faith. What’s your story? What got you to where you are, at the moment?

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Living Colour Morning January 2019

It’s been an awesome start to our events this year, with our first Living Colour morning of 2019. Such a privilege to meet with all the dancers and spend time catching up.

Our focus during the workshop session was exploring Proverbs 3.1-8, by looking at 3 main sections, Gods teaching and foundation, his faithfulness and understanding when we are struggling and having help come around us.

There was a great conversation about verse 1, and the different interpretations in different Bible versions. One version talked about ‘storing’ commands not keeping them, which is an image of treasuring the things that God gives you.

In verses 3 and 4 we chatted about how we can forget the small things that God is faithful in, and that it’s important to remember them daily. Participants worked in pairs to pick 3 or 4 areas that they felt God was faithful in. They wrote these down on separate pieces of paper and placed them at staggered points across the space. Working with their partner they put those faithful things into a journey, what they realised as they danced and shared with others, was the importance of fellowship and being with someone as you share in your faithful journey.

Below is short film of Servina and Jane’s, and Caroline and Helen’s Faithful Journey.

Our next Living Colour is planned for Saturday 22nd June, you can check out the info here. But why not join us before that at one of our dance days.

Teaching Children | Dance and movement – 13th April.

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Why is creativity so important?

The word creativity has been on my mind a lot recently, it’s taken me right back to why I started UC Grace, and how Living Colour dance workshops came about. I’ve been reading through previous notes and realising that at times it’s important to go back to your roots.

The ultimate reason I began UC Grace in 2010 was a passion to share with others the impact that dance and movement can have with our faith, and how it can be instrumental in encouraging others in their walk, bringing others to faith, and teaching Gods word. I wanted to acknowledge that God has given us a creative spirit, to explore, move and grow with. To put ourselves outside the box.

But as with so many things in life, distractions arise and before you know it, where you think you were, you no longer are.

Creativity takes courage. Henri Matisse

A dear friend gave me a card with the saying ‘Creativity takes Courage’. Initially I read it and put it to one side. Until last week, when I was drawn back to it, and the need to understand the implications of what that phrase means to me and to UC Grace.

Creativity has been a fundamental part of how UC Grace has developed, it’s integral to how we deliver our workshops, training and dance weekends and is actively encouraged amongst participants to help them draw closer to God.

However, I’ve felt challenged, that this fundamental root, the thing that shines through our work and sets it apart from others, has wilted. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve delivered all events with the same amount of gusto and passion, but had a feeling like something was missing, but not knowing what.

As this year has got underway, the Holy Spirit has whispered in me more, and I’ve realised its creativity that’s missing. Or more specifically how I share the connection of dance and movement and our faith, by offering a creative channel within which to do it.

Let me share for a moment what I mean by creativity with dance and movement and our faith!

An aspect that we look at a lot, is our journey, how we’ve got there, and where we might be going to. At one particular Living Colour session I asked participants to take a piece of paper and think about the journey that they had been on over the last week, and if they drew it, what would it look like? I then asked them at what points on that journey did they know that God was with them, and to mark it on the paper. From there their task was to transpose that picture into movement working individually initially, but then as a group. You can read more about how they did it, by reading the workshop plan here. But for now, look at the video below to see how they went from a picture to movement.

So why does it take courage? It takes courage, because for a lot of people creativity is something they don’t experience in their day to day. It’s something that doesn’t have a written step by step process, or tick boxes. It’s something that draws us to discover something new about ourselves, by stepping out the box.

The process is as important as the result is, both of which you might not have control over. Creativity takes courage, as it challenges your perceptions, your routine and your mindset. At UC Grace, that discovery happens in a safe environment, where whatever the result is, we support you as best as we can. Most importantly though, you join in as much or as little as you want.

It’s never been about the numbers that come to events. It’s about the hearts. I believe that if you join us at our events, God has put you there for a reason, and I value that. The connection between creativity and people’s hearts is so important.

So, the soul of our Living Colour dance mornings, our soak evenings, dance days and dance weekends is…

Over the next month or so, I am looking forward to continuing to weave this strand, across the whole of UC Grace, some of what is on our website currently is not where UC Grace is now. As God moves each of us on in our journey, God also moves UC Grace, and I’m looking forward to delving into putting creativity right back at our heart, as well as revisiting our values and vision.

We started with that phrase in 2010, let’s head back their in 2019 and see where it takes us.

I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences, if you have danced and moved with UC Grace. But also, those that haven’t, how do you use creativity? What does it mean to you?

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Romans 8 – Death was arrested | Life through the spirit

So here is a simple workshop plan. Sometimes my plans are written out in detail, others are not as I know that there needed to be a lot of space to let God move and see where the session was going to take us. So below is an example of a ‘light’ plan. When I delivered this session, it was one of my busiest for a while, so it was lovely to see how each person developed their individual movement style.

Let me know how you get on!

Pray – always begin with prayer, welcome God into the space you are in.

Read all of Romans 8 – what are your initial thoughts?

Focus on the following areas for discussion –

  • Verses 1 – 4
  • Verse 14 – children of God
  • Verses 37 to the end.

Creative Task – Life through the spirit

What has you week looked like? Where has the spirit been in it?

Take a piece of paper and draw or sketch your journey. Think about peaks and troughs and how you travelled from one space to another.

Get Moving

Individually – identify ways that you can put movements together to demonstrate your journey.

Share with others if you comfortable.

With Others – Link your journeys together. Do this by first all doing your own journey at the same time. Then identify points at which your journey can intersect with someone else’s. Finally, how different does the journey look if you add some one in?

You should 3 variations now. Your own with others, your own that intersects with others and finally your own with someone else in the journey at some point too.

Share with others your finished dance. Use it as a time of blessing, both to give, but also to receive.

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5 Top tips for Teaching Children Flags and Ribbons

One thing I am passionate about is passing on the joy of moving and dancing with flags and ribbons to children. However, I am keen that they understand scriptural references and know that they are choosing to pick up a vehicle that can be used to talk to God, to communicate, worship and share their heart.

Moving Rainbows | Guildford

But how does using dance and movement with children encourage them on their walk with God?

From a wide-angle perspective dance encourages growth of self-esteem, beliefs, accomplishments and other skills, and releases children to live their life in a way that they want too and will be of value to them. However, if you zoom in, dance and movement provide a safe space for children to learn to channel their emotions and communicate to God when words maybe difficult, it also provides opportunity for children to learn the Bible. Putting movement and actions to words, helping with memory verse remembrance and themes and topics in the Bible.

St Albans Holiday Club

Please recognise that you will have your own unique way of teaching – because God made you that way! So, what I put forward are simply suggestions, they are things that I have learnt along the way and have found helpful when teaching.

There is too much to say all in this post, so make sure you check out my post about What the Bible says about Flags and Banners. Information about a practical day to look at Teaching Children | Dance and Movement is available here.

Here are my top 5 tips for teaching children flags and ribbons specifically.

  1. Have clear intentions and boundaries

Boundaries – However well you know the children you will need clear boundaries in place. These include things like, the flag stays rolled whilst you’re teaching or talking. You put your hand up and count back from 5 when you want the children to be still. They sit down or put their flag down when you’re talking. You make it clear what happens if they continually don’t listen. They understand their dance space and where they can go when they move.

Intentions – This is about letting parents and children know what they are going to be doing during the session. Depending on the context of your workshop or class, this is important. Although it might seem obvious, you will need to say they will be worshipping, praying, reading the Bible and dancing for Jesus. If it’s not a ‘normal’ event i.e. church, Sunday school etc. But more like a youth club, holiday club, you may have some unchurched children there (awesome), we just need to still be respectful of their back ground.

2. The more help you have the better

No brainer with children! When ever you think you have enough you don’t! Regardless of how well behaved you think your children are, they will use a flag as a sword or poke someone on purpose. It’s new and exciting. Extra hands are also useful when you are teaching, as helpers can dot them selves amongst the children, so even if the children can’t see you, they can watch a helper (provided you’ve primed the helpers with what you are doing!). Should you split into group work, helpers can assist those groups and children that might be finding the task hard.

Mothering Sunday | Emmanuel Church Guildford
  • 3. Restrict numbers

It sounds quite harsh doesn’t it? But honestly, when you are teaching flags and ribbons you don’t want a packed hall. Not only will you have to fight above the noise to capture attention and teach safely. But the children won’t be able to enjoy the full effect of moving and dancing with a flag or ribbon if they don’t have the space within which to do it. If you do have to do a big group, my suggestion would be to split the group in two when ever it comes to actively moving as a smaller group can access the space more effectively.

4. Demonstrate, teach, practise, repeat in chunks

Chunking is something that I will talk about in another post. But essentially break down what ever you want to teach them into small sections and then do this:

Demonstrate – the children WATCH you do the movements

Teach – you TALK through and DO the movements with them

Practise – you go over what you have just done – with a partner or another helper

Repeat – constantly go back and re do what you have just done.

All children learn differently, all children learn at different paces. Doing it as above, will allow children who learn differently to still be able to access what you are doing.

5. Pick one song and memory verse they know.

With children, less is more. Don’t over plan. Pick something simple, that will allow them to be TAUGHT something and then allow them to CREATE something. That’s primarily why children love to dance and move with flags and ribbons. There is a freedom they don’t get in other activities.

Family Advent Fun

Let me know how you get on. There will be more hints and tips on teaching children and why we should invest in over the year. So, make sure you check back regularly.

If you’ve got a heart to teach children but don’t feel you have the skills and confidence to move with flags and ribbons yourself, why not get in touch about running a Moving with Resources day at your church. You can get in touch with me here.

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Flags and Banners – what does the Bible say?

Throughout history flags and ribbons have been used in many significant ways – declaration and proclamation, worship, battle and celebration. Flags have become increasingly popular in churches to demonstrate freedom of expression and encourage other people to experience and try out dance and moving with their faith.

Flags and banners themselves have no power. The significance is in Scripture and what they symbolize, God ‘inhabits the praises of His people’ and brings the kingdom in when we choose to take them up in faith.

However, I feel strongly, that flags and banners should not be picked up lightly. There is a lot more power in them, than people realise. They are vehicle to talk to God, to communicate, worship and share your heart. Be aware of this, as you choose to move with them.

Let’s try and understand them a bit more…

What are banners used for? Historically in the Bible there were 4 different levels of relationship to flags and banners –

  1. They were a people and a people belonged to God – there was Israel’s banner of God being with them. They housed the Ark of the Covenant, with them morning and evening. It was a symbol of God saying I am with you, just like we have the Holy Spirit.
  2. Demonstration of military and fighting force – each tribe had one rallying point for the fighting men of the tribes. They could look to the horizon and know the banner they need to get back to.
  3. Tribal unit identity – 3 on each side NESW, so they knew exactly where they belonged – their identity.
  4. Family clan units – based on the location of other banners, families always knew where to camp. The banners acted as reference points, therefore giving individuals purpose and vision.

What can banners do?

  1. Tell people who you represent, but like a signal pole always high on a hill.
  2. Signal of intent about what is to come – Jeremiah 51.12
  3. Indicate past victories they’d come through – different ribbons are attached to their pole under their banner depending on the battle won. Psalm 20.5 and 7
  4. Indication of Gods presence – Moses and Aaron’s staff are banners that have been lifted and a response occurred. Exodus – 25
  5. Put enemies to flight. Isaiah 31.9

This is very quick overview of the use of flags and banners, but hopefully offers you an insight into what the Bible says, and areas to think about when you choose to dance with flags.

I like to remember it as a visual demonstration of a spiritual truth. Just like moving normally, you never know the impact moving with flags and banners can have on you and others who may witness it. The colour you use can create just as much impact.

If you’d like to know more about ways that you adapt choreography to use flags here. There are also some tips on using ribbons in worship here.

Finally, want to come try using resources during your worship? Then get in touch with me here to chat about me coming to your church, where you can try out ways of moving with flags, ribbons and material. No prior experience necessary!

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