During prayer dance bites last night we entered into a great conversation about whether we truly recognised that God lavishes his love on us. I just want to take a few moments today to share 3 insights that came out of our discussions. We looked particularly at the scripture reference 1 John 3.1:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
There is so much depth in this verse and so much that we can learn, apply and trust God with. In the whirlwind of life, how deep God loves us often gets lost. Take a moment and think about what the word Lavish could mean, and what it means to you.
God’s love is like an invasion.
How do you like to feel love? Or how do you show love to others? We have a generous God that continually pours out his love to sustain us. But God knows the way to love us that speaks to us the most. If you’ve not heard about the love languages, they are certainly worth looking up (see link at the end). The Love Languages identify the way that you receive love best, this can help you in your various relationships. God loves us in such a way that He doesn’t have to think about how to give us love, He knows. Often we have the decision about whether we choose to receive that love.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us.
Consider the image of an invasion happening, when a winning side arrive on the scene to complete the invasion, they consume the area they are aiming for. They take it over completely. That’s the love God has for us. A love that overwhelms, releases the floodgates and crashes into us. God loves us with such a depth it’s overpowering.
There is no argument, God loves us.
This sense of overpowerment causes us to pause and recognise that we are called children of God. Children have an innocence and need to know they are loved, to feel compassion. As God calls us his children, he makes a clear statement that brings no argument.
…that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
Think of it like this – God loves us, lavishes on us, because we are children of God. As children of God we need to receive that with an open heart that enables us to stand firm with all God has for us.
We need to brace for impact.
Is your heart really open to all that God has for you? Are you ready to receive it? Chris Tomlins song Impact has a line in it that says:
Brace for the impact
The first time I heard it I did a double take. Why do we need to brace? What are bracing for? As we talked during prayer dance bites it dawned on us all. That how much God loves us is an overwhelming, tidal wave surging, storm crashing impact. By that I mean if we truly receive the words of this verse. Recognising that God loves us lavishly as we are his children, love will invade us with such force that we need to brace for the impact because it will be all consuming.
How can we respond to this?
If you’re a mover and dancer you can explore how God loves us by dancing to the song Impact by Chris Tomlin. Think about these 3 words –
What can these look like in movement? How do these words make you feel when you think about the depth that God loves us?
This video highlights what was shared during our Prayer Dance Bite session as well as some further thoughts and movement from me.
You can find out about the Five Love Languages here.
Not sure what Prayer Dance Bites is but would like to know more? Head here. Would you like to be part of the UC Grace journey? Then head here to sign up and be kept in the loop with what we are doing.
As I was thinking through how to share about today’s topic, I was aware that we all come from varying backgrounds. We have all learnt or been taught in different ways, and various aspects about prayer will speak differently to each person. We all love Jesus, which in turn means we love His word. In His word it tells us simply how we should pray. It is our human nature that stops us from doing it so simply! During this blog post I want to encourage you with how you are already experiencing prayer. But if you feel like you are stuck in a rut hopefully these thoughts will help you to realise how prayer becomes a habit in a way that’s unique to you!
Let’s begin by looking straight at Gods word –
“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,’”
One very restless night this week when my mind wouldn’t settle and I just couldn’t get to sleep I started to think about this verse. Particularly the phrase ‘Our Father’. What a clear statement it makes before leading into the Lords prayer, about how we should be ready. It’s doesn’t say that for prayer to become a habit you need to gather this, do this, say this etc. It simply says ‘Our Father’. Or, come Father come. This was the bit that sat in my head that night I wasn’t sleeping. When I was asking God, how do I share about when prayer becomes a habit. Is prayer a habit of mine? The answer was ‘yes, because you welcome me.’
Say His Name
Think about those times when you’ve needed your mother, father, or someone else close to you. What have you done to speak to them? You’ve called them by name and then shared with them what you wanted to.
Prayer isn’t some fancy thing that has to be done in a specific way. It’s a normal way of creating a conversation with someone, that someone just happens to be God. You don’t have to put a wall in between, remember the veil was torn down so now we can just talk to God. Our conversations allow us the opportunity for us to give our time to him. But often we have this preconceived idea that prayer has to be set up in a specific way for us to access it.
The reality is just about saying.
Our father we welcome you into what’s happening right now.
Our father please help me right now.
Our father I give you praise for everything that has happened today, thank you.
Whilst it might seem a dramatic thing and a really hard thing to say that you can create habit from prayer. But if think of all the things that you do without thinking they are habits. Think about when you recall lyrics from worship songs, when you recall scripture, when you recall conversations with friends. They’re all things that have imprinted on your memory. Then just remember how you go about your life and you share your faith. That is a habit, it might not be a habit like we think habits are. But actually when prayer becomes a habit, it’s the ability for it to be a natural part of your day to day life. It’s the natural conversation between you and God it’s the chance just to say hello and welcome God into what’s happening.
So my biggest thing that I wanted to share with you about when prayer becomes a habit is…
When prayer becomes a habit you feel at peace. Peace because it isn’t something that you’re striving to do that’s unnatural, it’s something that’s natural to you so it doesn’t have to be set aside at specific times in the day. There’s a place for that don’t get me wrong, but actually the ability for prayer to become a habit involves us having the openness to allow God into every part of our lives. To share that throughout the day acknowledging him in those things as we go.
Not convinced that prayer is a habit for you? Try saying ‘Our Father’, or ‘Come, Father Come’, as you go about your day-to-day activities. Or when you hit those hard points in the day. You don’t have to say anything more. Just those two or three words!
These other posts might prove useful exploring prayer and everyday life:
Creativity surrounds us, wherever we look, people, landscapes, businesses, things that go, plants, food, music and so much more each have an element of uniqueness about them. If, creativity is around us all the time, that must mean that it has some influence on how we live our day-to-day life. If God inhabits our day, one must assume that creativity is part of our day too. This week I want us to consider how creativity in worship is naturally part of what you do. How can creativity, worship and our conversation with God blend into our everyday?
What’s the deal with Creativity?
You just need to look around you and see with amazement the things that God has created. He takes great care with what he makes, being specific and knowing every detail, creativity in worship shines through everywhere.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, Genesis 1.14
This act of creation shared with us, means we see stunning clouds and sky by day and amazing stars at night. Each one deliberately put there. Part of Gods plan when He ‘created’.
The English word create stems from the Latin word creare which means to make, bring forth or produce. Everyday each of us will do those things – make, bring forth or produce.
Take a moment now and write down everything you have done with your day so far.
Creativity allows the possibility to explore something different. It challenges your perception about what you see and do, and how it could be done differently. It isn’t one size fits all. It’s the willingness to explore and acknowledge even the little things.
How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139.17-18.
The little things such as the grains of sand and ALL our thoughts were important when God created us. He took the time to lean into those small details. Think about the small details that occur day to day for you, do you recognise them and thank God for them?
Let’s look deeper at worship.
How do you worship? What is important to you when you worship? What does it involve? Spend a few moments noting down the answers to those questions.
I have always seen worship as part of my everyday routine, as I begin conversations with God, I am entering into a time of worship. An acknowledgment that what I am doing is for him. Often worship is only considered as singing, or time together on a Sunday morning. But it is much bigger than that. This verse in John sums it up well.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4.24 (emphasis mine)
In a nutshell according to this verse, entering into a conversation with God in any form is connecting with his spirit. Connecting with his spirit is part of creativity, resulting in creativity in worship. It’s like a perpetual cycle, one thing cannot happen without the other.
But how does creativity in worship go hand in hand?
As we draw to the end, I want to take some time to share and help you recognise that what you are doing already in your journey is using creativity in worship. You might also find some other things that you want to try.
Put a pause in.
Let’s look right back at Genesis again and remember that even through all that God was creating. He recognised the good bits, stood back to look at them and paused. This was a specific action that he put in at the end of every day. He chose to pause.
‘God saw all that He has made, and it was very good.’ Genesis 1.31
Perhaps for you, the biggest challenge in your creativity in worship might be putting in a pause, a full stop. To see what God has done or is doing. As you read on in Genesis God talks about how he chose to rest and bless that day.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2.2-3
For me this verse isn’t talking about ensuring there is a full day of rest in your week, although lets face it that would be lovely! It’s talking about how God made the active choice that to connect with his spirit and what he had done he needed to pause. And choose to bless what has been done.
Day to day putting in a pause (however big or small) and choosing to acknowledge God will enable you to draw closer to him. As you build confidence, your conversations, movements and actions during that moment of pause will become more intentional.
Write it down, draw it, move it out.
God made us all unique, that means how we choose to record our journey will be different.
You could write it down in prose, poem, song, story. Draw it in intricate detail, or any way you like. Or, move and dance what ever is stirring on your heart. That could be as simple as standing still, kneeling down or raising hands. It could also go deeper and involve a complete movement dance.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. Psalm 29.2
In our worship give God glory. What that looks like for you will be different to your friend. For example, although I love to move, part of my worship is also creating this blog post. It’s cutting out material patterns, it’s eating food! They are all things that can remind me of God’s greatness and how He is part of my conversation daily.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12.1
As I remember those things I acknowledge what God is doing, I praise Him and thank Him and chat with him. This grows my creativity in worship.
Create delight in the mundane.
This is a favourite of mine. It’s about the intentional choice to involve God in those things that you have to get done day to day.
Yep, you’ve guessed it! The cooking, cleaning, packing, folding, washing, drying and more that can encapsulate the majority of life. The stuff that has to get done and often we don’t want to spend time doing. So why not bring God into the occasion?
Listen to a sermon or song as you iron, wash dishes, fold clothes etc.
Pray for someone every time you make yourself a drink – you have a list up on the wall.
Give God praise as the kettle is boiling. Remember that God wants his passion to bubble up inside us.
As you clean focus on the sin Jesus washed away, what do you need to say sorry for?
I could make a big list of things. This is all creative, it’s all worship. Action and intention creates a reaction.
As a starting point for you, why don’t you list, things that you know you have to do day to day down one side of the paper. Then on the other side of the paper write one way that you can interact with God through it.
This is your personal way to grow your creativity in worship! Let me know what you create!!
You are creative!!
A final note to finish with, is a reminder that you are creative. What ever it is that you do there will ALWAYS be creativity in it. God is all around us, so he’s all around your creativity and what you create. Cheering you on, giving you your best.
Whether that’s –
Writing blog posts, reports and documents.
Creating dance and movement
Playing with children
Building, drilling, or cutting something
Planting, growing and sowing things.
There is creativity within you. You can make the choice to include it in your conversations with God.
During this month we are looking at the story of Esther, how her character and story can play a key role in our day to day life, particularly during this season. When you look into the character of Esther there is so much to learn, as dancer, it seemed simple to put that into a dance. In this post I want to share with you how I created Christian dance choreography for her character. The sticky points I came across and how exploring Esther has given me a greater understanding of what her story is all about.
Understanding the background.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent a long time in Esther exploring the story, and how it impacts on my journey of faith. Throughout this deep dive I came up with the following descriptions that were part of her story.
Creating a mind map of what stands out to you about a character or story allows you to begin exploring movement, pairing phrases and look at the emotion that the phrases create. This acts as a starting to point create your Christian dance choreography.
As you can see above, after the mind map, I then created a list of 6 key words that I felt spoke to me the most about Esther’s journey.
Creating a refrain to ground your Christian dance choreography.
Often in a piece of choreography there is a refrain or motif. This is something that creates a general thread throughout the dance. It keeps reappearing sometimes the same, sometimes different. But it offers a chance for expansion in emotions and dynamics.
For Esther I felt it important that the refrain was based on preparation and the word nervous. Two things that gradually grew over the time of her story. Often when we are preparing, we need to be deliberate, lift our head and eyes to see what is coming… even if we don’t want to! Part of Esther’s preparation was various beauty products for her body, only then could she go in front of the King. That must have been a very nerve racking first visit.
When you watch the video see if you can spot the refrain and the movements Esther carried through her journey. Creating your refrain is a great starting point for developing your Christian dance choreography.
Developing the character descriptions.
Once the refrain was created, I knew that the rest of the movements needed to be padded around it. It’s one of the things I love about creating Christian dance choreography. There is no set way of doing it. But this process that I’m explaining, is probably my favourite way.
Demonstrating the other things that Esther’s story took her through – boldness, walking with it all, stepping out, trust. Requires thinking about the emotions, anything visual that stands out, shapes, dynamics etc. Take each one at a time and see which way your body wants to move.
The one I struggled with the most was ‘walking with it all’. Esther chose, despite her background and how Haman was acting to still keep moving forward, to keep walking. As a singular dancer I found this quite hard to explore. In my mind to develop the Christian dance choreography I want to move in and around groups of people that might choose to step in my way.
Instead, I explored it by trying to create continuous flowing movements that moved me around the space, with pauses and changes of direction as needed.
Piece together and find the emotions to complete your Christian dance choreography.
I chose to explore pairs of words when I filled out the choreography I had around the phrase. Pairing boldness and walking through it all as one. Then step out and trust as another.
All of these phrases intertwine, but they tell a story of emotion, challenge, pause and growth. Primarily I moved without music. I found that this didn’t inhibit the movement I created. You have the choice to create movement with inspiration from the music or to focus in on the theme.
The music placed behind the Christian dance choreography for the character of Esther is there for background purposes.
I had so much fun (not only because it was snowing) settling in and dancing this. I hope you enjoy it!
Following on from my blog post How can I start to Prayer Dance, I wanted to take the time to be more specific about ways that you can begin moving and encountering God through prayer and movement. What’s important to remember is that all movement day to day can be a part of your prayers. It’s the intention that’s behind the movement when you do it.
I want to break it down into 3 easy movements for you to explore at your own pace – stand, sit or kneel and lie down. Each of these are postures that can be made before God, during your worship and prayer time. The reason these movements work well is because it encourages a 3-dimensional view of your prayer. Looking forward, behind, around you and up above, it changes your perspective to what you are praying for.
Let me break it down a bit –
Standing itself is an action, think about all the different ways you can stand and whether they are always static. For example, we very rarely stand completely still. Often, we are swaying slightly, shifting from foot to foot or walking/ moving forward.
The intention behind a standing prayer is the decision to look forward to what is to come. Accepting what’s happened behind and choosing to seek God with the future or ways to move forward. It’s noticing what happened before to get you to where you are now and striving forward to see what will come.
Sitting (or kneeling)
Sitting often requires an acceptance of the situation or moment that you are in. It might also involve an exhale of breath and the release of tension.
The intention is pausing in the current whirlwind to see where you are. Allowing yourself to be in the present, notice things around you. People, conversations, God. To choose to take big breaths for that moment.
Lying down forces, you to look upwards, to lift your face to what’s coming down, receive, accept and look at all the areas you couldn’t see from the other perspectives!
The intention is surrender, turning your face to God to receive his spirit, to listen to his voice and give to him the things that you have been holding onto.
But how will these movement help me with encountering God through prayer?
Let’s put it into practice…
Before we add an intention to your movements, get familiar with the movements and the space you’re in. Work your way through the different postures making note of what you see and how you feel. Often there is one that feels more comfy.
Now decide what you want to pray for…
Sometimes, if you’re a pen and paper person it can be useful to write down the things that you might want to pray for in each of the different postures. Or you can wing it!
Then move it…
You can work your way through the different postures speaking out your prayers in each place, pausing to listen to God.
Or if you are a mover and dancer then you can step out the things you have written into some simple movements or hand gestures.
The intention that you bring a movement can make it a prayer. So even if you’re washing up and scrubbing something clean, you can choose that movement for example to be a prayer…
About removing bad words said against you or someone else.
For new things to come when old stuff has gone.
To see the goodness amongst the craziness of life.
Intention in the action creates the prayer.
If you’re interested in learning more about prayer, dance and movement then there’s a free PDF download you grab here.
There is also weekly prayer dance bite session, where we look at scripture and how that reflects in our life at the moment and adding movement to do. More information about this can be found on the Prayer Dance Bites page on the website here.
Toddle Tales is the re-telling of Bible Stories for children, particularly the under 5s. Although, since lockdown ages up to 10 years old have also been enjoying it! All stories are made up of narrative and songs. This helps reinforce the story and these songs are written to the tunes of nursery rhymes. Before lockdown I did live sessions which were very interactive. The children got a chance to join in with the songs with either dressing up, performing actions or holding puppets. Since lockdown I have ventured into producing videos. Which have been reaching lots of different ages groups and I know have been very useful for parents when they want their children to engage with something Biblical on a Sunday.
How important is the Christian faith with Toddle Tales?
The Christian faith is important to Toddle Tales, because that is what drove me to create it in the first place. It was when I was working for a company called Molly Moo Cow, going into nurseries and singing and telling stories. God gave me the idea to do this for Bible stories.
Using the skills that God has given me, I have created another way of telling the Bible to children, in a way that is accessible. It is early days for Toddle Tales, and I have no idea what the future holds…but that is what faith is, trusting without knowing what will happen.
Why is it so invested is it so invested in teaching Bible stories for children?
Toddle Tales is invested in children because as Whitney Houston put it “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way” (Yes, I love a bit of Whitney). But of course, before Whitney sung this, the Bible teaches us to
“Train them up, in the way they should go.” Proverbs 22.6
Toddle Tales is just another way of teaching the Bible to young children, in the hope to engage them from a young age and plant seeds in their heart.
Can you share 3 tips to encourage parents in their conversation or teaching with their children about God?
OK so I sometimes struggle with this one myself(!) What I do try to do is best described with three words – pray, dance, and joy!
Actively choose to pray with them before they go to bed. Currently its just me who leads prayers as my eldest son struggles a bit. We thank God for the day and ask for a good night’s sleep with no bad dreams and that we would have a good day tomorrow. I feel it’s important to identify the things we are thankful for as well as look ahead to what is to come. Often, it’s very short to keep their concentration. But it’s still demonstrating to them how we can have a conversation with God regularly.
We do a lot of dancing, so I put on worship music and let the words of the song permeate into their souls. Waymaker is a firm favourite at the moment, but often we will find a compilation on Spotify and see what comes up. Adding in songs that they want to as they go. I try to give them a sense that all music works with movement and talk about them having a dancing spirit and how God loves it when they dance!
Finding the joy!
My older son gets very cross and his personality gets him stuck in the “it’s not fair” thoughts and attitudes. So, I have recently tried a new tactic of singing “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart song” Yeah, you know the one I mean, it gets stuck in your head!! But I have found that cuts through his mood. He tries not to smile, but I can see it helps him to break free. He even started singing it the other day in CO-OP (really loudly haha). I suppose what I try to do is rather than drum into them about God. I bring God into our every day, through creative means, as we all know that children learn best through creativity.
Finally, Lauren, what is the thing you love most about Toddle Tales?
The thing I most love about Toddle Tales is creating the stories and performing them. Since lockdown I have also ventured into producing videos, which I have also loved doing and the feedback I have got from them, has also been worth it too.
So great to hear about Toddle Tales and some of Lauren’s heart. If you want to know more about Toddle tales you can follow them on Facebook here and check out some of their videos on YouTube here.
Movement encounters our emotions in whatever form it takes – dancing, singing, sport, cooking – are just a few. They all involve movement and all provide ways to keep sustaining us when it gets tough. God is there to give us more than enough, all the time. But do you recognise that God sustaining us, enables us to share his word better, to love our passion greater and to pause letting our hearts get better? That thing that helps to sustain you, is a passion, it stirs your heart.
Sharing a passion…
This month we’ve been chatting a bit about passion, what it means to us as individuals, and what it might mean for the plan God has for us. I shared this week during my talk, Passion in a Suitcase some of my journey and scriptures that have enabled me to keep going no matter what.
I speak about how passion isn’t necessarily a specific activity it’s something that stirs your heart, it’s something that causes you to want to do more of it. That could be to do with a physical activity, it could be an emotion, it could be your workspace, it could be where you live, or it could be something to do with your family. If it stirs your heart it’s a passion! What’s stirring your heart today?
Today I want to look back on a fabulous dance day in 2014 and draw your attention to a dance that we did called ‘Can’t Stop Singing’. The song itself speaks about how God is more than enough. That God sustaining us, is Gods whole heart. Regardless of circumstances, regardless of what we feel, God is more than enough.
I feel it demonstrates some of that hidden passion inside us. It drew on emotions to explore the words and individually encounter the grace that God gives us. We moved in groups and recognised that moving together and saying that the Lord is our Redeemer over everything can bring so much joy.
The day was titled ‘Sharing a Passion, Generating Creativity.’ It allowed opportunity for God to work amongst the participants and see each of them grow closer to God with their faith.
I led the day with Joe Littledyke from Soul Survivor Watford. Whilst we were planning we had a real sense that the day was all about joy and celebrating. Celebrating that God sustaining us, always has done, will be, and that he is always there.
Lights on… Lights off… Let’s worship
The venue that we had the privilege to move in for the dance day, was equipped with various lights on the ceiling to change the lighting atmosphere. Normally we all worship with the lights on. But sometimes to bring out our passion, we have to begin in darkness and grow into the light.
During some of our time dancing that day we experimented with different lights. Chasing, jumping, growing and retreating with them. As God spoke to us over the course of the day participants recognised that the lights helped to portray and feel a real sense that God was there.
As we built the dance to the song ‘Can’t stop singing’ we experimented further what the lights could do and the impact they could have alongside the words of the song and the movements that were created.
For many, the moments of darkness put them into a sense of suspense. Suspense at not knowing when they needed to burst out and declare their movement. But suspense that God has called them to step out of the darkness and into the light.
God sustaining us is More than Enough
God will always give us more than enough. That was the key theme throughout the song ‘Can’t stop singing’. It cheers us to keep singing, moving, and trusting that God will give more than enough, to sustain us through the season that we are in.
Think about your season at the moment. How is it going? Are you giving yourself a chance to step out of the darkness and into the light declaring that God is more than enough? What does it mean to you when you say ‘God you are more than enough’.
As I say them I release the things on my heart back to God. Knowing that he knows my heart and what I need. Psalm 347.4 says ‘God gives you the desires of your heart.’ He will always supply what we need and give us more than enough!
I pray that as you watch this video, you will have a sense of the joy and celebration that God sings over your life. May you realise that God is all you need right now to sustain you. That he will carry you through this season, enlarging your territory and strengthening your foundation.
What is the cornerstone of your faith? Is a really good blog post that encourages you to root yourself in some key scripture. This will enable us to see God sustaining us through seasons that are hard.
Kids love to tell their own story don’t they? There’s elaborations, rabbit holes and excitement, because what they draw from stories and teaching is different to other individuals. I find teaching kids, is often like changing lanes all the time. You don’t know whether that new lane will serve it’s purpose, so you just slip to another lane. Teaching kids worship dance allows scope for you develop your relationship with Jesus as well as theirs. It’s taking a step outside your normal ordered box and throwing things in the air.
God made each of us unique. That means how we learn, grow and live life is different for each of us. Kids have the innate ability to be one step ahead with their excitement and drive to try something different. For example, last night my children wanted to play in the garden, with their torches, in the dark. I started to set up the music player and speaker, and with awe and wonder they asked whether we were “going to dance in the garden… IN THE DARK”. To which I naturally said “yes, and I’ll do it with you!”. What followed was a crazy 20 minutes of dancing in the garden, in the dark. They copied me, I copied them, we each did our thing and we had a lot of fun! If you want to check out the dance you can do so here.
I wanted to share that short story first as within it, you can identify the 4 ways I mention that are important about teaching kids worship dance.
Share the Fun
Kids LOVE fun, they jump at the chance at something that will make them giggle and smile. Teaching kids worship dance requires you (I really do mean requires you) to be that teacher that sparks fun into the session. That doesn’t mean it’s always about laughing! It does mean you give the kids the time to build friendships and relationships. Making then feel safe in the space you’re in and providing chances for them to see the fun, in the faith that you share.
As a dance teacher I am super picky about how I see others deliver and share things which are active. Perhaps, that’s because I am passionate, that if you choose to teach children, you do it because you want them to be engaged in the session. Or, whether it’s because I wouldn’t be teaching and sharing today if it hadn’t been for the dedication of various teachers. These teachers were passionate about engaging me in the content they were delivering. It could however be both these things. Children become influenced not just by what the see, but what they think, feel and do. They all play a part when you take them on a journey.
Delivering a kids worship dance session which is engaging is totally about stepping out of your comfort box. Although they like big and loud, and you might think that’s what engaging means. The reality is, your task is to grab their attention and hold it! These are some key ways I try to engage throughout a sessions with kids –
Short, small exercises that change between active and reflective.
You create, they create. Recap. Repeat
Read scripture or quotes, ask them to also read if they can
Share something, ask a question about what you shared. Say it back to them.
This is how I engage. Remember YOU ARE YOU, what ways could you engage with kids?
Being a model in kids worship dance
This is more than being a role model. It’s stepping out and dancing with the kids the whole time and going all out when you do! That might seem overkill, but after 15 years of teaching, the classes I went all out and partook fully, you saw the biggest results. Why?
Kids saw what the movement was meant to be. They saw passion in what God was speaking, and then connected to Gods word as they saw it come alive before them. Kids worship dance, is all about do, do, do. Model your passion for Jesus. Model your energy in the movement. Model your excitement when others join in with it. Take on the children’s uninhibited attitude to just do it!
Creativity weaves through all of the above suggestions, it allows a way to connect Gods word, movement, passion, and kids hearts. I draw upon more than dance in my kids worship dance sessions. I bring in drawing, material, games, speaking, crafting and more. That’s because I feel they offer a way to deepen the theme or scripture that’s being explored that session. Don’t limit yourselves to purely dance. To keep that fun, the engagement and modelling throughout the session, challenge yourself how you could share God’s word deeper with the kids.
If you follow me on social media you will have seen me posting daily throughout advent, an advent prayer dance. As advent comes to an end I wanted to share my journey of where it’s taken me over the 24 days. Prayer dance initiates so many people’s conversations with God. I delighted having the opportunity to be intentional, persevere and draw closer to God during this season.
In a month when I knew life would be very busy, I knew I had to be intentional about my prayers and communication with God during this advent season, choosing to a advent prayer dance everyday was very special. Prayer dance is something very close to the heart of UC Grace and has been the soul of 2020 as we have kept people moving for Jesus.
This wasn’t just about being intentional with DANCING a prayer, but being intentional about WHAT I was going to pray about. Whilst God gives us the freedom to move how we wish. If there is no intention behind what we are doing then it can be hard to see Jesus at the centre.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.
My intention was to share some of what God was saying during this season, identifying daily different things I could pray for. Which, through sharing with you would encourage, grow and ignite you during this season.
A goal of mine at the beginning of 2020, was to be intentional about incorporating movement into my daily life. At the beginning of the year I didn’t know what that would look like, and I probably should have been more specific – considering goals are supposed to be specific!
But 2020 has brought a new dimension to my movement, as it’s got closer to the end of the year I was prompted to share this with you. The advent dances offer glimpses into how I have been feeling and things God has laid on my heart.
This year more than ever perseverance has been important. In family, personal, spiritual and work life. Much of what we knew was turned upside down over night with the pandemic. With the majority of stuff still nowhere near what it once was or will be.
Perseverance during #adventdance for me has been about still choosing to move when I was tired, sad, or fed up. Those times that I made the effort to move through the emotions drew me closer to God. At the end of the day we to make the choice –
To read about Jesus
Learn about how he lives
Ask him to help us in the tough times
Say thank you when we see him in the big stuff
To live Jesus
Demonstrating to others who He is through how we live
Praying continually regardless of circumstance
Seeking joy and thankfulness on a daily basis
Prayer dance often puts you out of your comfort zone, challenging where God is in certain aspects of your life and your attitude towards others. But, it enables you to persevere through all circumstances, and dance when words are not sufficient to talk to God.
The days when I pushed through with advent prayer and still danced, peace reigned!
Closeness to God through advent prayer dance
Often people say pictures speak 1000 words. There’s detail, emotion, depth, growth and so much more when you look at pictures. But look at movement and you see someone’s heart on display.
You identify what they are feeling at that very moment and there’s an invitation for you to come and take part in what they are experiencing. As I shared these advent dances I was sharing what my heart was going through that day. There were days which were hard, but worship brings such a delight. Instead of letting the day dictate my feelings, I stepped out and followed through with the choice (intention) I had made to still dance (persevere). Through this I drew into God’s presence and stood by his side as I moved.
Reaching the end of my advent prayer dances, I really wanted to share with people something that God was saying I should do over the Christmas season, and that’s smile! Yes, I have a husband deployed and I always knew that this Christmas would be a different one.
However, it’s now a different one for everyone in the country (little bit of comfort there). Despite many feeling like ‘Christmas is cancelled’. God says smile :-), I am here. Seek me, find me and draw close to me in the way that fits you.
We are all individual and how we choose to draw close to God during this time will be different. My journey is movement… what’s yours?
One thing I love doing in my week now is Prayer Dance Bites. It gives me structure, takes me into Gods word and keeps me moving. Recently we looked at Philippians 3.14 and how this could be a prayer in our life regularly. I want to share with you 3 ways using worship dance choreography that we went deeper into the verse.
“When we’re discouraged, we work against our faith.”
What I wanted people to grasp during this session was how, God is always there. How we strive to get there, where our focus is and what we expect at the end. Is down to how we choose to press on with our faith.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3.14
Looking at a verse and transposing it into movement can be daunting but here are 3 worship dance choreography tips that can help you.
Start worship dance choreography by creating an action movement
Every verse in the Bible will have some form of descriptive, emotive or factual words in it. Look at the words and pick out those that stand out to you. For this Philippians verse I picked out ‘press on’, ‘prize’ and ‘heavenward’.
Using one of the words consider what that word looks like visually.
What does pressing on look like for you? Do your emotions and habits play a part in how you move forward, break through situations and get closer to God? Think about 3 -4 movements that you could create and connect together to demonstrate ‘pressing on’.
This is really simple way to begin looking at scripture and moving to it. Once you’ve picked your movements, it’s good to go over them several times. They start to sink in, become a habit and a prayer as you search the verse deeper.
Think about your eyeline and focus
Philippians 3.14 in the NIV uses the word goal, as what you are pressing on towards. Goal can seem quite a sharp word, alternative words used instead of goal could be invitation or purpose.
Considering other words can help you see the verse from a different perspective and see where the focus is. I would always recommend looking up different versions and seeing what words are used there.
In worship dance choreography to move on from your set of pressing on movements, ponder where your eyes were as you did each of the movements.
We can’t move forward it we’re not looking where we are going, if we don’t acknowledge the pathway that there is in front of us. Add into your movements deliberate choices about your eyeline and what you are focusing on.
Does changing your focus change how your movements feel?
Imagination in worship dance choreography
A final way to explore worship dance choreography for any verse is using your imagination and seeking Jesus! Choosing to put Jesus within and at the end of your movement prayer. By saying Jesus is within and calling you through your movements, how does that make you feel? Hope? Joy? Excitement? Relief?
If your movement is building up to that how does it change?
With Philippians 3.14, think about these other questions too. What other word could be used instead of prize? If Jesus was at the end of your movements what would you do?
Imagine you in the journey of the verse…
You are pressing through that which gets in your way, breaking down walls. You’re pressing on because you have been invited to receive what God is offering – that is where your focus is. As you receive what God gives you, he is right there with you.