Jesus for kids – Toddle Tales share about Bible stories for children

This week we meet the lovely Lauren from Toddle Tales. Lauren shares a bit about herself, what Toddle Tales is and why it’s passionate about sharing Bible stories for children.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello, I’m Lauren, and I am a married mum, with two gorgeous boys, who are 6 and 2. I used to teach music before I had the boys and I love dancing, singing and watching series on Netflix!

What is Toddle Tales?

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.

Lauren teaching Bible stories for children using Mary and Joseph.

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!

Pray

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.

Dance

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.

Energetic Lauren sharing Bible Stories.

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.

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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.

If you’d like to read more about sharing with children, check out this blog post here from Prinith’s experience teaching children worship dance.

Pinterest graphic Toddle tales sharing Bible stories for children.

Worship Dance Ministry – God sustaining us through movement

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.

Bringing out our passion from darkness to light.

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.

Be blessed!

You can hear the Passion in a Suitcase talk I mentioned at the beginning by heading here to purchase your copy.

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.

God sustains us through movement - being the light in the darkness.

Jesus for Kids – 4 things important to teaching kids worship dance

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.

Pointing to the nose teaching children dance.

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.

Dancing with children during a kids worship dance.

Be Engaging

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.

Engaging children in christian dance balancing on one leg

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!

Sticking tissue paper onto glass jars during craft time at a kids worship dance session.

Be Creative

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.

Making Noahs boats out lollipop sticks.

Remember God’s got you. So you got this!

If you’d like to read ways you can flags and ribbons with children read this blog post – 5 top tips for teaching children flags and ribbons. Interested in knowing more about teaching children specifically, read this blog post Teaching Children dance and movement round up. It provides some highlights from our training of how you can get started yourself.

Closer to God – My journey of advent prayer dance

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.

Smiling with intention in advent prayer dance

Intentionality

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.

Romans 12.12

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.

Persevering to Jesus in advent prayer

Perseverance

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

OR

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!

Kneeling closer to Jesus in advent

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?

I’ll leave you with my #adventdance day 24 SMILE

Music – Smile, Sidewalk Prophets.

If you want to read more about prayer dance and how you can encounter it for yourself, head over to read How can I start to prayer dance?

To check out all dances from #adventdance head over to my Facebook or Instagram page.

Pinterest picture of advent prayer dance pictures.

Types of Worship – 4 ways of worship bringing intimacy with God

Many of you will be part of churches that will be tackling current world situations differently as a church body. You might find what they are doing encouraging, or you could be frustrated. One thing that has struck me more and more, is the state of worship for Christians. In the UK singing isn’t allowed in churches, I’ve spent time asking God what it means for worship going forward. For those that are dancers and movers you may naturally have fallen into a different ways of worship. For others you may have found this season harder. I want to share 4 ways you can look at worship differently that bring an intimacy with God.

Worship is such an important part of our life as a Christian. Often we can get caught up in the regularity of how worship is delivered in church. The perceived notion of only one or two ways that we can connect with God through worship. However, the Bible shares that it’s much more than that. More than going to church and singing. Worship should encompass our whole life as a Christian.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

John 4.23

But do remember, God made each of us individual, therefore these 5 ways might not work for you, but I hope they inspire you to discover amazing ways you can interact and worship our amazing God.

Serving

God delights in nothing more than when we offer our time to be with him. This can be in a variety of different contexts, church, home, community and more. I want to focus on serving at home. In this scenario, serving in our home provides opportunities to reveal your heart as you go about your day to day.

We know how tiresome the mundane bits of life can get – washing, cleaning, cooking, being a parent (yes, come on, let’s be real with each other here). But our attitude and communication within these displays our true heart to God. If we approach something that needs doing with an intention for God, we are choosing to worship God as we do. During those moments of washing the dishes, hoovering the floor or splitting up a sibling argument. Choose to have God in centre, create conversation and intent as you serve around your house and see how this can be part of your ways to worship.

Creation

We live in an amazing world, with wonders around every corner, if you choose to seek them. Acknowledging what we see around us should be part of our conversation with God. Our way of revealing the things that inspire us and give us all sorts of emotions. Prompting prayers, praise and thanksgiving.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Romans 12.11

When you are outside, start to notice and pay attention to the things that you see. This time of year we will walk around and see bare trees, coloured leaves on the floor, and muddy puddles. There will be wind, rain, frost, autumn sun and lots more. These are all things that God created, and as you look at the detail you can see life and wholeness. The chance to see God and worship him through the things that he has made.

Words

Words as ways of worship may seen abstract. But inside each of us is the ability to formulate sentences. Putting thoughts onto paper in songs, poems, stories and speeches.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

Psalm 29.2

The Psalms is a book that is full of worship for God, full of words, images from words, poems, songs and more. Why not see how you can write something as part of ways of worship to God.

writing as ways to worship

Art

A picture paints a 1000 words… Art is broad term, the meaning behind the word here, is creativity is the visual sense. Putting what you feel God is saying onto something that can be seen. Think of some of the qualities that you love most about Jesus. If you painted them as you thought about them, exploring their meanings, feelings and expectations. You’re drawing Jesus into your journey and worshipping him whilst you do it.

artwork saying breathe in worship
art work exploring roots

This lovely piece of art work was built upon throughout the course of weekend. It was Emma’s response to what was discovered during the dance sessions. What she felt God was saying and what she wanted to bless others with as they moved and danced around it.

How intimacy fits into ways of worship.

I’ve saved the best till last. This is the most important thing when we worship God. It isn’t about everything else that we think we need in order to enter into God’s presence and worship him. It is about choosing to be intimate with him.

‘First be intimate with me and then more will come.’

By intimacy I am referring to the decision to seek God no matter what is going on. To have an on-going dialogue with him or make the effort to. It’s about being real and genuine about how you are feeling and the impact that life around you is having on you.

dancer arms out in worship

In the ever-changing landscape of Christian worship at the moment, sung worship isn’t accessible like it was. We must make the effort – and have the realisation – that just singing is not worship. Worship is much bigger than that. It begins with being intimate with Jesus and making the choice to seek his presence and see different ways of worship.

Think about your relationship with God currently. Then think about the previous 4 points I have made about interacting with worship. In what ways can you have a more intimate relationship with God?

As we finish, let me take you right back to what I said at the beginning. God made us all individually, we are unique! Therefore, how you choose to be intimate with God, how you choose to worship will be unique to you. You don’t have to fit into a mould, you just have to rest in the Father’s embrace and know that He is there for you.

If you want to read more about dance as worship check out the blog post Dance Ministry – Four ways we can raise a Worship Dance Army.

If you’d like to find out ways that you can join us and explore worship dance head here.

Pinterest ways of worship

Christian Dance – How to adapt Choreography to use worship flags in Christian dance

Many people ask me how you can incorporate the use of worship flags into Christian dance without just simply twirling them. The simple answer is that you consider it as part of your body! This, I recognise is easier said than done. We have the habit when we move, of moving within our own ‘box’ or ‘frame’. A predetermined space or movement set up, where we are comfy. Christian dance is about encouraging people to move out of the box and into a new way of moving that allows them to have a deeper connection with God. Just like you have to work to deepen your learning and understanding of a subject. You also have to do this for Christian dance. This means that God will have even greater space to move through you and demonstrate Jesus to others.

Group of worship dancers moving with worship flags.

What is adaptive choreography?

Dancers and movers often put themselves in one of two groups for Christian dance – worship flag dancer or non-worship flag dancer. Both of which are self-explanatory. It doesn’t mean that they don’t ever do the other group. It means that they have a group they are most comfortable with. Often moving into the other group takes courage for some dancers.

Identifying a way that you can move seamlessly between groups can help build confidence and develop your worship dance skills. Here are just a few things to encourage you as you try this.

How do you hold your flag?

Flags (or banners) essentially consist of some form of rod and a piece of material. The exact make up of these two, is dependent upon your preference. I teach using dowelling as the rod and a rectangular piece of material. These I believe offer a greater foundation for beginners.

When holding the flag, the ideal placement is thumb and index finger sandwiched around the base of the material where it is on the rod. This means that as you move the flag you can also untwist the rod if the material begins to get caught around it.

Christian dance holding flags between finger and thumb.

What initial movements can I do?

Initial movements with a flag involve circles, side ways figure of eights, ripples, throws, turns, rainbows and twists. Although with these you can travel and move them, they can be quite static in comparison to ‘dancing’ with the flag.

worship dancers mirroring movements.

So how can we move from a static place to incorporating fluidity with the worship flag in Christian dance?

Firstly, you need to remember two very important things when choosing to move with the flag:

The flag is an extension of your arm. When you choreograph the worship flag sits at the end of your arm. This means that one arm is longer than the other, but that doesn’t mean your usual movements are inhibited.

Golden worship flag

Moving with a flag brings Gods power. Moving with a worship flag/ banner should not be done lightly. It’s an act of bringing Gods power down to earth in an almighty and visual way. Therefore know why you choose to use a flag and know that you are declaring Gods power in the process.

Secondly, choreographing without a worship flag first makes adapting with a flag easier.

In the video below I first choreographed, movements using my body alone. I went over and over these movements until I knew them well. Once that was done, and only then, I picked up a worship flag to use within the already choreographed moves. Some of the movements naturally transposed to using the flag with them, others needed adapting slightly.

Good to note…

There are many ways to develop movement using the worship flag in Christian dance. But this is a way I would encourage for those that are not used to choreographing with flags. It allows dancers to see a difference between moving with and without. Plus the effect some changes can make in order to use the worship flag effectively.

In addition, the more comfortable you get with moving with a worship flag, the more spontaneous your movements become. Creating the fluidity you might see in others who are more experienced using them.

I’d love to know what ways you choreograph and develop movement with flags? Or how you choreograph and move with a flag!! Click here and drop me a line.

If you would like to join us at one of our events, make sure you check out our Events page.

Pinterest adapting choreography with christian dance

Closer to God – Pausing, Praying, Encountering and Moving at our Soak events

Our Soak events have evolved over the past two years into a time where getting closer to God is essential, they can help to put a pause in your week and focus back on God.

What is a UC Grace Soak event?

In 2019 we launched our first soak evening. The Soak evening developed out of a need to offer opportunities to grow closer to God. Being specific about the time that we give to that. What began as an evening event in 2019, migrated into a morning event in 2020. Moving with the world situation, it migrated further to an online event during their biggest restrictions of the COVID-19 lockdown.

We are now back to meeting face to face, yay!! Therefore, looking forward to the opportunity of seeking to deepen our relationship with God and grow closer to him.

Mel sitting with her hands out closer to God

Why should we set aside specific time to get closer to God?

Integrated within us, is a need to gather with others. By choosing to gather with others it can help us to recognise where we feel our relationship is with God. This allows us to not only go deeper looking at scriptures and praying for each other. But also the chance to dance with others whose hearts are simply to use dance to deepen their relationship with God.

Some people found it a bit indulgent having that chance to give ourselves some much needed ‘me-time’. But the world that we live in means that we need to give ourselves some time. Plus, God rested, and he calls us to rest to.

“for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4.10-11

Often we get wrapped up in what’s happening around us, running around after one thing to the next, but God wants us to pause, he wants us to soak in all that he has for us, and sometimes that means giving ourselves some self-care.

Encountering God and getting closer to God with hands palm up.

So what happens?

During our soak events there is no ‘set’ agenda other than to encounter Jesus. But there are four main things which we do to encourage that encounter and help people to make that connection throughout the course of the evening.

  • Pausing
  • Praying
  • Encountering
  • Moving

These four key things help us on that journey to deepen our relationship with God and ultimately get closer to him. We live in a world where things are changing daily. Routines which once were set have evolved into something different and will continue to evolve into something else. But the importance of putting aside time to draw close to God will always be there. That’s why I want to encourage you to give that time to yourself, to get closer to God.

Praying for others at a soak event to get closer to God.
Raising a flag in worship closer to God.

Here are some participants feedback on getting closer to God at a UC Grace soak event.

‘Space to move as well as utter freedom to be still for long periods introduced a new dynamic.’

‘Just enjoyed being free to move’

‘It gave me some focus time to spend with God’

Want to know more about our Soak Events, then head here.

Jesus for Kids – Priniths excitement at stepping out to teach children Worship Dance.

In 2019 Prinith joined a UC Grace training day that focused on teaching children dance and movement with your faith. It provided tools and tricks to enable an encounter of Jesus for kids using worship dance and movement as the stimulus. I caught up with Prinith to find out the impact that this training day had on her teaching children and engaging them in worship dance and movement.

One Big Rainbow feather fun – UC Grace

Q – Why was it important to develop your skills in teaching children dance and faith?

“I am a Tots Helper at my church, which is great because it means there is no pressure to be in charge, but I am allowed to lead little bits as I wish. I’m also really encouraged to dance at my church. One of my friend’s kids, before she knew my name, knew me as the ‘dancey lady’. Therefore, you have an impact by modelling it and I wanted to be able to equip our kids because dance is a natural way for them to engage in worship.”

“I’ve done Movement in Worship’s training the trainers course and within the Springs Dance Company apprenticeship there was a teaching module. But to adapt that for children, was interesting and what I really wanted to learn through attending the Jesus for Kids – teaching dance and movement training day.”

Q – What did you learn through attending the Jesus for Kids – Teaching Dance and Movement training day?

“Just how to create activities so they would learn through having fun. But also thinking about things, like how can a warm up lead me to the end point. The big thing that I learnt was the idea of exploration, like ‘here you go, let’s do this, let’s go through this’, whichever age you do it with, it will work for. They explore. But then you get to the end goal, having done all this exploration. That’s the key learning that I’ve taken from UC Grace – let’s explore this, let’s play and then we’ll get to the end point eventually.”

“I found it really useful on the training day, that we actually put into practice what we were learning and started using it straight away. For example we had a theme and we worked in pairs, came up with an idea and then delivered it.”            

Family Advent Fun – be a role model. UC Grace
One Big Rainbow exploration time (under 5s)

Q – How have you put into practise what you have learnt since then?

“I remember talking to my CDFB regional coordinator and she really encouraged me to put it into practise as soon as possible, which was a really helpful tip. If you do Anna’s workshop, you need to put it into practise as soon as possible, to cement what you’ve learnt and keep it fresh.”

“I led our tots session on the parable of the lost coin, it was great fun because we ‘sparkled and shone’, we ‘whistled while we worked’, and we hunted for it to James Bond music, which the adults loved music wise but went over the heads of the tots! What was also really good was, we have a little boy with Downs Syndrome, who decided that the craft activity (which was rubbing coins), was not for him. Instead he played ‘lets hide the coin, lets find the coin’ under the sofa. Which just proved that teaching children through movement taught them the story. He knew that we were looking for the lost coin.”

Q – What impact has it had on the children in your church?

“My church is a multi-site church, so there are children that don’t go to the same site as me, but they still seek me out to dance when we have our meeting together. There was one little boy last autumn that sought me out, and wanted to dance in the worship with me, because he’s known me and he’s seen me teach them, he’s seen me model it. He’d watched too much strictly, there were all kinds of moves, including slides across the floor! Then more recently, there was girl that was watching me dance. I had taught her movement at the church weekend away,but didn’t think she’d taken anything in, but she came and followed all my dance moves perfectly and danced with me, it was amazing, I have a huge soft spot for that little girl now!”

Drama, Dance and Craft. UC Grace

Q – What is one golden nugget that you go back to every time?

“Exploration!”

“Teaching children is probably the most exciting workshop I have ever done, and I’d encourage anyone who wants to grow in their teaching skills to seek training from UC Grace.”

Prinith de Alwis Jayasinghe leads the Movement in Worship Birmingham Base and goes to Churchcentral West in Birmingham.

Moving Rainbows session with youth helper

How can I find out more about Jesus for kids – Teaching dance and movement?

There are several options to learn more about sharing your faith using dance and movement with children. We regular run in person training days – full details available here on the website.

By the end of the 2020 there will also be the chance to do an online course. Additionally a comprehensive written manual is due for release in 2021. If you wish to be the first to hear when our online course launches, the written manual is available, as well as other events in our Jesus for Kids training then head here to let me know your details.

Creative activities painting
Creative Prayer and craft activity time at Little Rainbows – under 5s.

Worship Dance – 5 Scriptures that Inspire Movement

God’s word is an amazing book to dive in to, each chapter and each verse will bring up different things for different people. I love the fact that what will jump out to me will be different for you. As I sat to write this, I realised how hard it is to just select 5 scriptures! The biggest passion of UC Grace is bringing God’s word alive using dance and movement, so the whole Bible inspires movement for me, inspires me to worship dance. However, just like you have favourite words or sayings, there will always be scriptures that stand out more than others. The 5 that I share here, don’t even skim the surface, but they do encourage me to dance, move and pray.

Joshua 1.9

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

In Joshua we learn about how God knows every place we set our feet (verse three). He knows when we need courage and when we need to know that He will be with us where ever we are. This can bring strength and depth to our worship dance movement.

Psalm 139.1-6

You have searched me, Lord and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

This whole Psalm is packed with the promises of how God made us, how individual we are and the care that God has for us as we do our journey. It serves as reminder when we might be struggling with self-image, acceptance and knowing our individuality.

Isaiah 40.29-31

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young me stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

How often in life are we exhausted and feel like there is no strength left to keep moving? Exploring that feeling of weariness and loss, followed by strength with our bodies, allows us to physically recognise the impact of emotions and knowledge that will support us through it all. Worship dance brings out so many emotions it is important to pause.

Jeremiah 29.12-13

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me with all your heart.

God hears all the prayers we say, whether we whisper them or shout them. Choosing to reveal our heart to him will instil hope, create calm and cause us to pause.

Matthew 6.9-13

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And lead us not into temptation but delivery us from the evil one.

The Lords Prayer. Simple and effective. A prayer that encourages us to be drawn into Gods word, to pray for others and lead by example. One of my favourite and effective ways to introduce people to moving to Gods word.

If you would like to learn more about moving and dancing to scripture, why not join us on one of our prayer dance bite sessions, that will give you a taster. More information available here Prayer Dance Bites.

If you’ve not joined the UC Grace journey yet, we would love to have you join. There is lots happening even through this time of change we have experienced. Get in touch for more info, or look on the website.

Worship Flags – 3 Steps to Guide You

Worship flags resound with people in different ways, everyone will have different preferences, whether you are a seasoned worship dancer with flags, or someone new exploring and curious to see what it’s all about.

During this blog I want to share just 3 steps that can help guide you when using worship flags. If you want to find out more detail about why flags, dance and worship go together and what the Bible says about it, check out Flags and Banners – What does the Bible say, for more info.

UC Grace Summer Tour - St Neots. Nakai flagging

Make and Model

There are many different styles of worship flags and you can get very technical with it. But let’s look at it simply.

MAKE

The shape and weight of fabric will create a different ebb and flow when you dance with it. The type of stick that you use also affects this.

For example, I teach with rod dowelling sticks, and rectangular size metallic lame of varying sizes. I use this style as it’s the easiest to teach beginners with and offers a ‘safe’ start which every participant can connect with. It also enables further skills to develop and be practiced as your knowledge of dance and movement in worship grows.

However, wing (or rounded edge flags) which tend to semi circular in size and often fitted with some form of flexi rod poles, are lighter in weight, but need more co-ordination and skill to master movement in continuous flow due to their size and shape.

The type of fabrics used for flags varies, but is often one of the following – metallic lame, silk or organza. Each fabric has a different weight and therefore the effect created with movement alters.

Sue with Fan Veils at Going Deeper 2019

MODEL

Model refers to the “look”. Different colours can create different meanings. When you choose to step up and dance with worship flags you will be drawn to a colour, colour combination or picture.

There are generalised meanings attached to colours (see below). But remember, God speaks to us all individually and therefore the reason you are drawn to a specific colour might be different to someone else.

Worship flags are spectacular is size, shape and colour. What would be your ‘ideal’ size and shape?

Holy Spirit fire Flag

Move with your WHOLE body

Your body is your vessel, you know its limitations and the movements it loves to do the most. When a worship flag is picked up generally one of two things happen.

The first being you stand still on the spot and wave, creating patterns in front of you and above you with your arms and the flags, perhaps with a little ‘bop’.

The second being, you ‘move’ across the space as you would normally without the flag.

Neither option is wrong, thats the beauty of how we come before God. Individually made, created for a purpose, letting God lead our hearts.

Dancing Free 2020 - flag workshop

For you created my in most being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139.13

But my encouragement to you would be to move with your WHOLE body. Look at your worship flag as an extension of your arm. This is a hard concept to grasp initially as it can seem very awkward to do.

When I first teach newbies to flag the main thing that I want them to recognise is that their body already knows movement, the flag is an extra layer to share more about God and go deeper into worship. As your body already knows movement, let it lead you. Let it find the rhythm, hear the lyrics and see what others do.

Pause with your worship flag

Pause, to breathe, to acknowledge the reason why you are stepping out with a worship flag, to ask God to lead you with your movements. Pausing is good, whether, before or during movement.

It allows you to ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in your conversation with God, to pray a blessing on others through the movement that you share and to enter into the time of worship with your whole heart and not just a portion of it.

If you would like to explore more ways of using worship flags then reading Adapting Choreography to flags in worship dance, maybe useful for you.

Drone footage from UC Grace Summer Tour 2020: St Neots

If you’ve not joined the UC Grace journey yet, we would love to have you join. There is lots happening even through this time of change we have experienced. Get in touch for more info, or look on the website.

Holding a flag high. An image to use for pinterest.