3 things to remember as a dance ministry leader

I often get asked what I consider the most important things when as a dance ministry leader. That’s a really difficult question to answer. However, I have picked out three things that underpin leadership journey and how I lead UC Grace and what I would recommend you think about as you explore leading a dance ministry.

Don’t feel like you’re a dance ministry leader? Whilst you might feel you’re not ‘leading’ anything specific. What I share can be applied to sharing Jesus with others, leading church groups and helping family members. It’s totally up to you how you choose to apply it.

Connecting to the holy spirit. Group of ladies chatting in a circle.

One – Connecting to the holy spirit

For me, connecting to the Holy Spirit, is the most important things as a dance ministry leader. I want the focus of the session to be about the capabilities of God, not mine. The best way to learn how to connect with the holy spirit as you lead, is to practice. To practice and to trust!

I choose to say some simple words in my head. They generally consist of ‘Father God help me’, or ‘please remind me this is about you and not me’, or even ‘this isn’t working God what should I do’. Most often, the answer is to wait, to pause!

Try it yourself

This week in your conversations or time of leading, choose to pause and put into practice welcoming the Holy Spirit into what you are doing. Does it make a difference? Please do let us know!

Two ladies reaching our their hands palms together pressing on.

Two – Acknowledging your struggles

Part of being a leader is sharing your strengths and your struggles. Choosing sometimes to make yourself vulnerable. You’re just as much a human as the people you maybe sharing with, therefore struggles are normal! I often find that it’s through an experience that I have that I then want to share. It comes from a place of encouragement and allowing others to see how they could move on with something they might be struggling with.

In the spirit of sharing. One thing I have been struggling with recently and working through is comparison. Comparison that what I am doing isn’t good enough or that it’s not a proper job or I’m not qualified to do it. It was during a recent zoom call with a lady in Canada that it reared it’s ugly head again. I knew God said, stop, as soon as my mind went down that rabbit hole. Stop comparing. But on the inside all I felt was unqualified to do the role. As the call went on, God interjected and revealed that the skillset I have is different to the other person.  It can’t even be compared to. It is beyond comparison as we are all unique.

That’s what we need to remember as a dance ministry leader. We are all unique. Do not compare your abilities, journey, struggles etc against anyone else. It’s just between you and God.

But the journey we have been on as leader, the stories we have can help shape someone. Therefore don’t be afraid to acknowledge your struggles not only to yourself and God, but also to those that you teach and share with.

Try it yourself

What have you struggled with recently? Is there a struggle that you can share with someone this week, that could encourage them?

Anna Gilderson standing at the front of a workshop leading a dance ministry

Three – Being clear and consistent when a dance ministry leader

In my early days of leading I found that I was quite wishy washy with my delivery. I couldn’t articulate very well what I wanted to happen and would seek assurance from the group that I was teaching through asking them lots of questions.

This tottering or wavering most likely came down to a lack of confidence, knowledge and experience. But as I have journeyed with leadership since, a reoccurring theme is the need to be clear and consistent with the subject that I am leading in.

Many many years on and I have learnt the art and way to deliver clear instructions, demonstrations, stories and communication between attendees and myself.

Consistency allows for a regular pattern to develop where attendees can feel safe in knowing the shape that the session with take. It also means they understand boundaries and I can be accountable for what is delivered.

If I restarted again ‘clear and consistent’ would be a tag line as I planned and delivered from the beginning. This doesn’t mean everything has to be planned to letter. It means that you take the time to understand the make up of the group that you are teaching and the best way to delivery to them.

Try it yourself

How do you feel about being clear and consistent when you lead? Is there one you struggle with more than the other?

What are your key things as a dance ministry leader? God has put inside each of us unique ways for us to lead. Sometimes to understand and grow that can take time. Our Christian Dance Leadership Programme provides a safe space to develop and grow your leadership skills. Head here to find out a bit more about it.

Pinterest blog title image.

Drawing closer to a creative God

Have you considered the possibility that you are wired by a creative God, to think and be creative? 

This might sound strange and uncomfortable, if you would consider yourself as someone who doesn’t have a creative bone in their body.  Are you someone who would say “I’m not creative at all”, “I can do a bit of this and that” or “Yes I am creative”?

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28

Dancing against the evening sky soaking in a creative God.

Where do you see a creative God?

I took this picture recently at a UC Grace workshop.  The sky, the birds that evening as well as my friends movement to a worship song were so awe inspiring, it caused me to stop what I was doing and take a moment to take it all in. 

Our heavenly father made all of this.  From darkness he made the world come into being.  You and I are made with the very same hands, in this very image.  We have a creator God, who made the fish, the sea, the birds and the stunning sunset and so much more.   He creates on mass, with an abundant quality, God doesn’t do things by halves.  God is the greatest creativity guru of all time and paints a canvas with the sky and the sea and so much more. 

How does that make us creative?

So if that’s true, perhaps he has wired you and I to possess something of this life-giving creativity ourselves.

Being fruitful and multiplying means ending up with more than you started with.  Perhaps God may have blessed you with an ability to dance, write, cook, be an entrepreneur, design something from scratch, build something out of wood or metal, sing, be a speaker….or perhaps you are yet to discover the gifts God has given you.  But I want to say to you today, He will have given you gifts to create something.  Gifts that He wants you to enjoy and develop, and also share with others.

Quote by Phylicia Rashad

How can I respond to knowing we have a creative God?

Consider doing some or all of the follow to help respond and explore this:

  1. What has God has blessed you with creatively?  An ability to dance, write, cook, be an entrepreneur, design something from scratch, build something out of wood or metal, sing, be a speaker….or something else?
  2. Write out the blessings that come to mind.
  3. Display them around your home as a reminder and encouragement of what God has given you. 
  4. Ask God to reveal a new way to share and bless others with these gifts today.

This has been written my Emma as part of our Scripture Prompt series. Scripture Prompts are weekly emails that share some different and creative ways to engage and go deeper with scripture. To find out more get in touch here

Letting God’s spirit bring us closer to God.

This weeks scripture prompt explores Genesis 1.1-2, looking at how we can apply various aspects to our day to day life. One particular phrase in the verses that stands out to me is ‘the spirit of God was hovering over the waters’. Even as the world began, God’s spirit hovered and was with us.

God's spirit in the clouds at Studland 2021

How has God got my attention?

God works in different way, and, as I have walked through a tough season the past month I have witnessed different ways that God has caught my attention and called me to listen.

The first being the sky and clouds that we walk under each day and the second recognising the presence of God’s spirit.

The outside has always been a special place for me, it’s a place that calms me and focuses my attention on what needs to be focused on.

I have found that in those moments when I am struggling with life and need refreshment, I take a step outside. The depth of my faith comes from interacting with much of the outside world . Even as I write this, I am looking out the window and focusing on the trees behind the house opposite. How the wind is moving them in the breeze. The visible display of an invisible power. The exact way that God’s spirit works, weaving it’s presence in our lives.

Above those trees are the clouds. Fluffy clouds with darkness round the edges, a glimmer of baby blue at the top and bright white and sun poking through. This image that I see is a display of God’s glory and an open invitation to recognise how God moves in my life.

Letting God’s spirit infiltrate

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1.1-2

As I’ve been reflecting on Genesis 1.1-2 and my approach to life circumstances I began writing what was on my heart and writing what God was saying. The result of this was a heartfelt poem that I can impact others and encourage them with what they might not see, feel or hear God’s spirit.

Just remember, regardless of how we may feel, God will always be there!

You’re always there – Poem written August 2021 by Anna Gilderson

When the road never seems smooth and the waters never still.

When the wind relentlessly batters every aspect of your being.

He fights.

As your head feels turmoil and your eyes feel heavy.

As the voices speaks louder and the tussle grows stronger.

He is there.

So many things run through your mind

So much tension in your shoulders and,

So much sadness in your eyes.

You’re trying to fight.

Trying to defeat those arrows.

But the tiredness is overwhelming.

The relentless battering of emotions.

The silent tears that roll down your face.

You know he fights for you.

You know he is there.

But it’s hard. So hard.

You pause.

After all you tell everyone else to pause.

You hold that pause for a little bit longer.

‘I’m here.

Stay with me.

Be in my presence’

Pause.

‘Hear me.

I’m here.

Stay with me.

Be in my presence’

Pause.

Louder now.

‘Feel me.

I’m here.

Stay with me.

Be in my presence.’

You breathe.

Inhale through your nose, deep and cold.

Closing your eyes.

Lifting your chest,

Dropping your shoulders.

You breathe deeper.

The air hits the back of your throat

You feel it travel down the neck to your chest.

You keep breathing.

Staying in that moment.

In that pause.

As God’s spirit hovers within you, around you.

He fights for you.

He is with you.

You’re always there – Anna Gilderson
Letting God's spirit bring us Closer to God.

Dance Ministry – 5 Worship Dance Choreography tips

Sometimes we can feel like we are stuck in a rut with the way we worship dance, sometimes feeling like we are always doing the same thing. God doesn’t think this, He loves all the movement you create. That being said, there is nothing wrong with choosing to explore and push the boundaries of our movement to deepen our conversation with God. Here are 5 simple ways that you can grow your worship dance choreography.

I love association when it comes to teaching. So rather than using boring words I’ve gone for imagery and something to visualise. The Bible and worship are full of imagery anyway so it makes sense to use it to understand and develop your worship dance choreography. So, let’s break these 5 tips down.

Exploring your dance canvas outside.

Painting your canvas

Painters often only have a 2D canvas to work with, but as dancers our canvas is 3D, 360 degrees, often we can forget this. The easiest way to explain this is, imagine there is a giant glass box, bigger than you and you are put within it. Your ‘performance’ space, or area to dance in, is not just in front of you. It in front, behind, to the side, up above and down below. It is everywhere. Not only are you aware that you have all this space as your canvas, but also any observers that see you will recognise a depth in your movement due to the different facings that you focus on.

Golf ball to beach ball

Size plays a massive influence on the movement that you create. Just like painting your canvas it impacts on the visual eye and the energy of the dance, as well as the story. Minute finger movements to large whole-body movements each tell a story. Think through some of the movements that you have done recently, have they all been the same size or have you varied your approach to a movement?

Speed, size and shape explored through worship dance choreography.

Sloth to leopard

Speed can be something that we are afraid of as dancers. However, it is something that creates an ebb and flow in our dance, drawing both yourself and observers into what is happening. What speed naturally dominates your movement? A consistent continuous one? Or do you find yourself picking your moments with which to be fast or slow?  What your body demonstrates with speed engages the dancer and observer on the journey that you are on. Whether that’s taking the same movement and doing it at different speed, or have different movements at different speeds. Scripture poses a great opportunity use this worship dance choreography.

Dancing as a group outside exploring speed and shape with worship dance.

Cricket to fly

I am sure by now you can work out what cricket to fly might mean!! Both are creatures that move and travel about in different ways (and speeds). You’ve got the cricket that travels ground through jumping and clinging to things. Then you have the fly, who flies (!) about chopping and changing direction. Just like when you paint your canvas you change the focus and facing of your movement. Travelling and moving across your space is important. You create patterns and shapes with the movement across the floor and jumping, twirling, sliding, twisting, running and more provide a way to move across that space. Cricket to fly is a fabulous way to immerse yourself in worship dance choreography.

Monkey

My last tip is about expressions, focus, quirks. The extra bits that help tell the story, express the song or reveal the meaning of God’s word. All these other bits are important in worship dance choreography to cement the journey, exploration and performance. Monkeys are great at showing up in different ways what’s needed, bringing in that extra little bit of flare.

Give your whole being to worshipping God.

Applying the use of these tips into worship dance choreography

Not sure how you can build out a sequence? Here are 5 applications from the worship dance choreography tips above –

  1. Look at a piece of scripture (e.g. Psalm 36.5-7) identify different levels, changes and focuses within the verse. How can the things you’ve noticed help you to paint your canvas?
  2. Looking at same scripture, identify the words that connect to size. How can they transpose to movement?
  3. Take the movements you created for size and choreograph two variations of it and different speeds. What do you feel the speeds demonstrate?
  4. In what ways can you lengthen and grow the movement sequence that you have at the moment? Go back to the scripture, what other things stand out for you? How can you add them into the sequence to show travel?
  5. Finally, pause! Think about the worship dance choreography tips AND the scripture. What else can you add into your sequence to show what the scripture is saying. Think about the journey you are showing and the story you are creating from the scripture.
Hold on to Me choreography from the Prayer Dance Trail outside 2021. How many worship dance choreography tips can you spot?

I’ve only skimmed the surface with how you can use these 5 worship dance choreography tips. If you want to know more check out the membership and mentoring options with UC Grace here.

This blog post might also be useful for you – 3 Ways to explore Worship dance choreography with Philippians 3.14.

worship dance choreography tips.

Dance Ministry – Prayer Dance Trail FAQs

Prayer dance trail logo

Got a question about the Prayer dance trail? Then check out the questions below. If you still have questions then please do get in touch.

How long are the sessions?

Online sessions will last between 60 and 90 minutes, this will provide flexibility needed for discussions.

The in-person session will be 2 hours.

What happens if I miss an online session?

You can catch up afterwards as the recording will be uploaded into the learning portal.

What will we cover during the first online session?

This first session will be introducing the trail, what it looks like, how you will do it and laying the foundations of creating your own trail. We will begin to unpick how to pick a topic and what you need to think about relating to that topic during the course of the trail.

The trail will be challenging, so we will also talk about some of the challenges and excitement that it can bring.

I will share ways you can start movement and what can inspire you during your journey. Between the 1st and 2nd weeks you will encouraged to start creating some movement yourself as well as firm up the finre details about the trail that you are going to take.

What will we cover during the second online session?

This session gets exciting as we dive deep into what movement on the trail looks like. I will share a topic and how I have developed it – this will be available for everyone to use if they wish.

You will also find out ways that you can document your journey with the trail. Between the 2nd and 3rd session you will be encouraged to actually do the trail, and not just once! Always coming back to how God can impact you through this trail and your prayer dance journey.

What will we cover during the third online session?

The final session will offer a time to draw together how your prayer dance trail went and the impact that it has had on you.

Reflection, praise, worship and moving forward will al feature.

Are we supposed to be dancing outside during the online session?

Not at all! You will need access to notebook, bible, pen and workbook during the sessions. Of course if you want to do the session outside you are most welcome, but we won’t be moving for the whole session. Don’t get cold!

What do we do between each of the online sessions?

At the end of each online session Anna will explain what you will need to do between then and the next online session. You will be encouraged to complete that so you can maximise your experience and learning during the course.

If we want to listen to the session again will we be able to access it?

Yes of course. All online sessions will be recorded and uploaded into the learning portal for you to watch again at your own pace.

Will I need to record myself moving at all?

No. You will not be required to provide ‘evidence’ of your dance trail. But equally if you wish to record and share with us, you are most welcome.

If I wanted to record some of my movements and share them how would I do that?

Recording – The easiest way to do this is with two devices. For example, I use my tablet or computer to play the music I want to dance to and I use my phone to video my movement. I have a tripod to help me with recording but propping it up against something works just fine too!

Sharing – if you have the recording on your phone, you then have the ability to share into any whatsapp groups, upload to facebook/ social media or email. Most videos would be too large to attach to an email directly. So a file transfer service like www.wetransfer.com works well for this.

What is the learning portal?

The learning portal is an online space where everything is uploaded for you to access. It’s main address is https://community.ucgrace.co.uk/ . If you have previously brought the 40 day dance and movement devotional, you would have purchased it here. Just log in as normal. Can’t remember your password? Then request a reminder.

Hope this has helped. Don’t forget you can find all the other details and how to book here. Don’t forget there is also the blog post Creating Prayer Dance Trail that gives a more in depth idea of what is involved.

Intercessory Prayer – What is prayer movement?

Have you ever been asked to do prayer movement? What have you thought about it? How did you respond? Sometimes hearing those two words together can raise an eyebrow, but the reality is everyone who prays already uses prayer movement. Let me take a few moments to explain what I mean by this.

How do you come to pray?

Often when we come to pray there is certain things we always do as we come before God. That might be closing our eyes, opening our Bible, bowing our head, going on our knees, opening our arms out, raising our hands and so much more. They are all things that people do for prayer to come into the presence of God. To draw closer to him and be ready, and they are all movements.

Just take a pause here and think about the last time that you prayed. Think about how you readied yourself. How you took yourself through that moment and how you drew closer to God. Write it all down or remember all the little things that you did. How you did it, what did you respond to the most, what is really important when you pray?

prayer movement kneeling

Everyone moves when they pray.

I watch people and they say I’m not a dancer and I’m not a mover and that’s fine I hear you, everyone is different. However, everyone moves when they pray and that’s really evident probably from the things that you have written down. Or through observations as you see others come to pray.

How often do you just pray without ANY change in the state of your body? Or put another way, how often do you talk without any expression? Not often hey! Even as I am writing this (or speaking into a microphone) I’m moving my hands and making facial expressions.

Very rarely can we come before God and pray (or worship!) in a bland way putting no expression, no motion, no movement in it. The reason is because God created us, he created us to live and move and have his being. To respond to him.

‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Acts 17.28

In many places in the Bible it talks about laying hands on people when they pray. Why? Because God moves! As we choose to use movement and prayer together, we are acknowledging that God will move. That the atmosphere will change.

At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.’ Luke 4.40

pausing in prayer sitting on a chair

How can I be more conscious about my prayer movement?

As we come before God we use our whole body. Every single bit of us because it takes our focus, because we have an intention about what we are creating. We are creating a conversation, an open door, an opportunity for change.

I talk a lot about intention within dance and intention with prayer movement. At the end of the day if you don’t have any intention with what you were doing it’s not going to reflect your true heart.

Here are 3 things I want you to consider as you go onwards with your prayer movement:

1. What do your hands do when you pray?

2. How is your body when you pray?

3. Where is your focus?

As you become more aware of answers to these questions you can begin to think about what you are wanting to declare through your prayer and what that could look like with movement. For example, if you are praying about someone’s heart and mind. You can place your hands on your head and then hands on your heart. Alternating between them as you feel led whilst you pray.

Raising hands lifting up a prayer.

In conclusion, can prayer movement be defined?

Yes! But how you define it, comes down to you and the impact it has on your life. For me, and UC Grace this is my definition…

Prayer movement is your body’s reaction to drawing closer to God. The external display of an internal feeling and preparation for a conversation. It’s nuances that only you and God know. Fleeting moments when you choose to acknowledge your connection and conversation with God. The reality of moving through life sometimes 100 miles an hour but still always doing the same thing when you choose to pray. To have that conversation and allow intention into the time of response with God.

Going forward…

Will you realise where movement fits into your prayer journey? Keen to explore it in a more informal way? Consider joining prayer dance bites that allows short, focused sessions looking at scripture, our reaction in movement and our prayer from it. You can find out more here.

The following blog posts are also good starting points –

Most of all, relax and enjoy where your prayer movement takes you.

Don’t forget you can also join the mailing list here to keep up with all that happens with UC Grace.

A picture for pinterest about What is prayer movement?

Dance Ministry – Creating a prayer dance trail

I’m excited to bring this ‘how to’ blog to you today. Many of you will be familiar with prayer walking. Choosing to go out in a specific area to pray for things as you pass different locations. Whether that is to do with the location directly or to offer a springboard for prayers on other topics. I’ve been sharing a lot recently about how prayer dance can impact our prayer journey. So today I want to share with you how creating a prayer dance trail can help build another way to journey your prayers and conversations with God. I will offer a simple outline that you can apply to different topics and situations as you wanted, giving you limitless possibility to move your prayers outside.

I highly recommend a notebook as you work through this, so you can write down any bits that you need to. However lots can be gained from doing this spontaneously as well.

Resting in an outside space praying.

Step one – Discover what you want to pray for.

Praying with a purpose gives you a greater focus and will help with creating a prayer dance trail that fits with what’s on your heart at the moment. Use the following things as an impetus to begin to note down things that you want to pray through.

  • Person
  • Circumstances
  • Emotion
  • Place

Whatever you pick, this is known as the topic. Write down everything about that topic you have picked. Think about all aspects of it and any impacts that there are.

Step two – Creating a prayer dance trail route.

Begin by choosing 4 areas or stops within walking distance from your home or at a location you visit frequently. Or simply an area that you love! Assign one of the following themes to each of the areas –

  • Head and Heart
  • Relationships
  • Pause and rest
  • Encouragement

Learn the order that the topics appear on your route. Each of these 4 areas, with their relevant theme assigned will act as stopping points along your route. At each of these stopping points you will focus on the relevant theme and how you can pray into it with the topic you picked at the beginning.

Creating a prayer dance trail what the journey could look like.

Step three – Begin to create some movement.

Now start to look at all the things that you have written for your topic. Find one word (or a phrase if you need to) that could sum it up. This is to be known as your capital letter and full stop and will be the foundation blocks for creating a prayer dance trail.

Once you have identified your word, you need to create a simple and short movement that you can do for it. This movement will be used at the beginning and end of your time in each area that you stop at along your route. This is why I have called it a capital letter and full stop! You could also think of is as the bread in a sandwich!

I find having a simple movement such as this helps you to frame each section and provide you with focus, both as you begin and as you end.

You then have the choice to leave the space between the capital letter and full stop at each location empty. Then to fill it with spontaneous movement each time. Or to think about each theme and location and some movements that might work best to that theme.

The biggest thing to remember is providing God with the space to move, speak to you and respond to your movement. After all whatever it is that you are praying about is important, so you want to know what God might have to say about it!

Dancing with a pink ribbon outside

Step four – Prayer dancing the trail.

Before you step out and begin your trail. Pause and ask God to lead you. You have spent time laying the foundations creating a prayer dance trail layout. Now, how your trail works is really up to you. Here are some suggestions about how you could approach working your way through the trail:

  • Use music to inspire you as you walk.
  • Allow God’s silence to fill the space you walk.
  • Move to a specific scripture at each stop.
  • Move to the same scripture at each stop thinking about how the theme assigned to that location impacts it.
  • Take ribbons, material, flags or something else to inspire you along the way.

God can speak through whichever way you do it. There is no right or wrong. My prayer is that these instructions will offer up a chance for you to explore and see what works best for you.

Praying against the ruins of Waverley Abbey.

Step 5 – The challenge

Often, we forget that praying for something can take patience, perseverance and consistency. Now you’ve taken the time creating a prayer dance trail. The challenge would be completing it consistently over the course of the month with the same topic, locations, and themes. See how God moves and what he says.

Over the space of a month work your way through the trail as often as you can. Sometimes it might be that you feel only part of the trail needs completing but respond to what God is saying to you each time. Refer to all that you wrote down about the topic at the beginning.

Some other things to consider when creating a prayer dance trail.

Doing it with others – creating a prayer dance trail with others can be even more fun than doing it on your own. You have the chance to be unified in what you are praying and support each other as you do it. This could be through you all prayer dancing to the same topic or you each have your own topic but you work your way through the same route together.

Do the trail at different times of day – we all know that we can be more tuned in to God at certain times of day. Why not see whether different times of day affect how you approach the trail and how God speaks.

Other influences – such as music, weather, scenery or scripture that could inspire you as you pray and move.

In May 2021 we will be running a prayer dance trail for you to join in with. Keep an eye on the Events page for further information. If you want to know more about prayer dancing read this beginners blog – Encountering God through prayer and movement.

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.

Closer to God – 3 ways to explore how God loves us through 1 John 3.1

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 loves us so much it invades it.

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 –

  • Invade
  • Firm
  • Impact

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.

Further information

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.

Lets brace for the impact of Gods love.

Intercessory Prayer – When prayer becomes a habit

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!

A quiet prayer space.

Let’s begin by looking straight at Gods word –

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,’”

Matthew 6.9

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.’

Heart shape on floor with ribbons. Person praying.

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.

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.

The River of Peace. Blue material along floor inviting you to rest and pray.

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:

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when prayer becomes a habit pinterest picture.

Types of Worship – Creativity in Worship is naturally part of what you do.

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.

Drawing and Pausing close to God.

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.

Forgiveness at the cross in worship

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

Sitting in Gods creativity by the sea.

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.

Growing plants outside as part of 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!!

lory to God - dancing outside with a silver flag worshipping God.

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.
  • Folding clothes
  • Creating dance and movement
  • Sewing
  • Washing up
  • Playing with children
  • Teaching 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.

Would love to know how you’ve got on with this. If you fancy reading more about movement and worship I recommend you reading this post 4 Ways of Worship bringing intimacy with God and Three things that can impact dance to worship.

Not part of the UC Grace journey? Jump on board, we would love to have you. Sign up here.

Pinterest graphic with beach view and field dancing showing creativity.