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.

Jesus for Kids – 5 Top tips for Teaching Flags and ribbons for Children’s Worship

One thing I am passionate about is passing on the joy of moving and dancing with flags and ribbons to children. However, I am keen that they understand scriptural references and know that they are choosing to pick up a vehicle that can be used to talk to God, to communicate, worship and share their heart. In this blog post you’ll find 5 top tips for teaching flags and ribbons as part of Children’s worship.

Indoor group during children's worship using flags.
Moving Rainbows | Guildford

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

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

Children outdoor dancing with flags.
St Albans Holiday Club

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

There is too much to say all in this post, so make sure you check out my post about What the Bible says about Flags and Banners to help with any background information you may want to know.

Here are my top 5 tips for teaching flags and ribbons for children’s worship specifically:

1. Have clear intentions and boundaries

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

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

2. The more help you have the better

No brainer with children! When ever you think you have enough you don’t! Regardless of how well behaved you think your children are, they will use a flag as a sword or poke someone on purpose. It’s new and exciting. So it’s best to accept it will happen rather than consider it won’t!

Due to this, extra hands are your best friend as they can help police what the children are doing with the resources. Helpers are also useful when you are teaching, they can dot them selves amongst the children. So, even if the children can’t see you, they can watch a helper (provided you’ve primed the helpers with what you are doing!). Should you split into group work, helpers can assist those groups and children that might be finding the task hard.

Children's worship with flags.
Mothering Sunday | Emmanuel Church Guildford

3. Restrict numbers for some children’s worship workshops

It sounds quite harsh doesn’t it? But honestly, when you are teaching flags and ribbons you don’t want a packed hall. Not only will you have to fight above the noise to capture attention and teach safely. But the children won’t be able to enjoy the full effect of moving and dancing with a flag or ribbon if they don’t have the space within which to do it.

If you do have to do a big group, my suggestion would be to split the group in two when ever it comes to actively moving as a smaller group can access the space more effectively.

Therefore, when planning your numbers think in realistic terms about how many bodies you can get in your space to effectively delivery an excellent children’s worship workshop.

4. Demonstrate, teach, practise, repeat in chunks

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

Demonstrate – the children WATCH you do the movements

Teach – you TALK through and DO the movements with them

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

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

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

5. Pick one song and memory verse they know.

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

Children also love to realise that they know the answers already. So, whatever song or scripture you pick try to ensure that it’s already used as part of the children’s worship in the groups or at school. Familiarity encourages children to bloom and will help breed confidence. If you’re asking questions about topics or themes they may already know this will do just that.

Children's sitting down listening to teacher explain scripture.
Family Advent Fun

Let me know how you get on with any children’s worship workshops.

There will be more hints and tips on teaching children and why we should invest in them. So, make sure you check back regularly.

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

These blog posts might also be useful for you –

If you want to be the first to heat about any teaching children’s worship resources I create. Head here and sign up.

Children's worship pictures, holding flags and ribbons in different workshops.

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.

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.

Dance Ministry – Creating Christian dance choreography for Biblical character Esther.

During this month we are looking at the story of Esther, how her character and story can play a key role in our day to day life, particularly during this season. When you look into the character of Esther there is so much to learn, as dancer, it seemed simple to put that into a dance. In this post I want to share with you how I created Christian dance choreography for her character. The sticky points I came across and how exploring Esther has given me a greater understanding of what her story is all about.

Understanding the background.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent a long time in Esther exploring the story, and how it impacts on my journey of faith. Throughout this deep dive I came up with the following descriptions that were part of her story.

Brainstorm about Esther's character.

Creating a mind map of what stands out to you about a character or story allows you to begin exploring movement, pairing phrases and look at the emotion that the phrases create. This acts as a starting to point create your Christian dance choreography.

As you can see above, after the mind map, I then created a list of 6 key words that I felt spoke to me the most about Esther’s journey.

Creating a refrain to ground your Christian dance choreography.

Often in a piece of choreography there is a refrain or motif. This is something that creates a general thread throughout the dance. It keeps reappearing sometimes the same, sometimes different. But it offers a chance for expansion in emotions and dynamics.

For Esther I felt it important that the refrain was based on preparation and the word nervous. Two things that gradually grew over the time of her story. Often when we are preparing, we need to be deliberate, lift our head and eyes to see what is coming… even if we don’t want to! Part of Esther’s preparation was various beauty products for her body, only then could she go in front of the King. That must have been a very nerve racking first visit.

Preparing to wear the crown of Queen Esther.

When you watch the video see if you can spot the refrain and the movements Esther carried through her journey. Creating your refrain is a great starting point for developing your Christian dance choreography.

Developing the character descriptions.

Once the refrain was created, I knew that the rest of the movements needed to be padded around it. It’s one of the things I love about creating Christian dance choreography. There is no set way of doing it. But this process that I’m explaining, is probably my favourite way.

Demonstrating the other things that Esther’s story took her through – boldness, walking with it all, stepping out, trust. Requires thinking about the emotions, anything visual that stands out, shapes, dynamics etc. Take each one at a time and see which way your body wants to move.

Using a jump in Christian dance choreography.

The one I struggled with the most was ‘walking with it all’. Esther chose, despite her background and how Haman was acting to still keep moving forward, to keep walking. As a singular dancer I found this quite hard to explore. In my mind to develop the Christian dance choreography I want to move in and around groups of people that might choose to step in my way.

Instead, I explored it by trying to create continuous flowing movements that moved me around the space, with pauses and changes of direction as needed.

Piece together and find the emotions to complete your Christian dance choreography.

I chose to explore pairs of words when I filled out the choreography I had around the phrase. Pairing boldness and walking through it all as one. Then step out and trust as another.

All of these phrases intertwine, but they tell a story of emotion, challenge, pause and growth. Primarily I moved without music. I found that this didn’t inhibit the movement I created. You have the choice to create movement with inspiration from the music or to focus in on the theme.

Reaching into the plan that God has for Esther.

The music placed behind the Christian dance choreography for the character of Esther is there for background purposes.

I had so much fun (not only because it was snowing) settling in and dancing this. I hope you enjoy it!

Fancy exploring more about Christian dance choreography? Check out these posts 3 ways to explore worship dance choreography with Philippians 3.14 and How to adapt choreography to use worship flags in Christian dance.

You can follow more of my dance and choreography journey on Instagram @uc.grace.

Pinterest graphic for  Christian dance choreography.

Closer to God – Encountering God through prayer and movement

Following on from my blog post How can I start to Prayer Dance, I wanted to take the time to be more specific about ways that you can begin moving and encountering God through prayer and movement. What’s important to remember is that all movement day to day can be a part of your prayers. It’s the intention that’s behind the movement when you do it.

I want to break it down into 3 easy movements for you to explore at your own pace – stand, sit or kneel and lie down. Each of these are postures that can be made before God, during your worship and prayer time. The reason these movements work well is because it encourages a 3-dimensional view of your prayer. Looking forward, behind, around you and up above, it changes your perspective to what you are praying for.

Let me break it down a bit –

Standing and praying to God.

Standing

Standing itself is an action, think about all the different ways you can stand and whether they are always static. For example, we very rarely stand completely still. Often, we are swaying slightly, shifting from foot to foot or walking/ moving forward.

The intention behind a standing prayer is the decision to look forward to what is to come. Accepting what’s happened behind and choosing to seek God with the future or ways to move forward. It’s noticing what happened before to get you to where you are now and striving forward to see what will come.

Kneeling and praying

Sitting (or kneeling)

Sitting often requires an acceptance of the situation or moment that you are in. It might also involve an exhale of breath and the release of tension.

The intention is pausing in the current whirlwind to see where you are. Allowing yourself to be in the present, notice things around you. People, conversations, God. To choose to take big breaths for that moment.

Lying down encountering God through movement.

Lying down

Lying down forces, you to look upwards, to lift your face to what’s coming down, receive, accept and look at all the areas you couldn’t see from the other perspectives!

The intention is surrender, turning your face to God to receive his spirit, to listen to his voice and give to him the things that you have been holding onto.

But how will these movement help me with encountering God through prayer?

Let’s put it into practice…

Before we add an intention to your movements, get familiar with the movements and the space you’re in. Work your way through the different postures making note of what you see and how you feel. Often there is one that feels more comfy.

Now decide what you want to pray for…

Sometimes, if you’re a pen and paper person it can be useful to write down the things that you might want to pray for in each of the different postures. Or you can wing it!

Then move it…

You can work your way through the different postures speaking out your prayers in each place, pausing to listen to God.

Or if you are a mover and dancer then you can step out the things you have written into some simple movements or hand gestures.

Remember

The intention that you bring a movement can make it a prayer. So even if you’re washing up and scrubbing something clean, you can choose that movement for example to be a prayer…

  • About removing bad words said against you or someone else.
  • For new things to come when old stuff has gone.
  • To see the goodness amongst the craziness of life.

Intention in the action creates the prayer.

Praying with God outside.

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If you’re interested in learning more about prayer, dance and movement then there’s a free PDF download you grab here.

There is also weekly prayer dance bite session, where we look at scripture and how that reflects in our life at the moment and adding movement to do. More information about this can be found on the Prayer Dance Bites page on the website here.