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.

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.

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

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.

Dance Ministry – Discovering your purpose – 3 things to think about

It’s so hard sometimes to be clear about what we do and why we do it, life can take over, we can get stuck in a rut and we think it’s obvious to others about what we do. The reality? That we get so consumed in other things that discovering our purpose is not clear to us or those around us.

Do you know your purpose or call?

This applies to our whole life, not just if you have a business, or a job, or specific life circumstances. Leading through life without knowledge or direction can leave you feeling bewildered and lost. Discovering your purpose, not only gives you focus and direction, but also challenges you to pursue certain things, sets a standard, and encourages you to keep going, when lets face it, life just seems all too much!

“And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8.30 NIV)

In Prayer Dance Bites the other week we asked the questions ‘do we listen to Gods call?’ and ‘do we listen to find out what it is? Listening and responding are two very different things, often we choose only one, as that’s the easy route. But God wants our best for us, he will not leave us where we are forever, taking the time to seek His will and listen for his call will bring you much joy and help you to shine. If you’ve never sought Gods plans and purposes for you, maybe now is the time to do that. (Find out more about Prayer Dance Bites here, and if you want to listen to this particular session head here, to watch it). What ways could you be discovering your purpose?

What do you do when you know your purpose?

Do you display it so others know clearly what it is? If not, why not? God will always give us more than we need, as we choose to trust in Him, His hope and love will overflow and display what is in our heart, whatever colour that may be!

“May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15.13)

Discovering your purpose can help you to ‘display your colours’

You may have noticed that the UC Grace logo is full of colours. For me colour is utterly important in our walk with God. Colours allow us to experience a depth and breadth to our relationship with God. They help to identify where we are at on our journey and where we may get to.

A good example of this is thinking about your journey through lockdown and Covid-19, your feelings emotions, actions and reactions. It may have felt very bleak, or dark, speckled with moments of joy, fun and laughter. It may have been a long hard slog, but one you embraced and kept climbing with.

At UC Grace we help you to journey through whatever colour or circumstance you are in, using dance and movement to help you through it. Part of that may involve help with you discovering your purpose. There is never a right or wrong way to approach your personal journey with God. Because, it’s just that, personal, between you and God. UC Grace acts as the vessel to help you get there.

How does UC Grace display its colours?

Essentially by demonstrating our love and passion for dancing, Jesus and movement. The nitty gritty of how we do that is all over our website, with many ways to connect. Over the coming weeks I will expand further those areas and show you how you can be involved and grow alongside us.

I’m taking part this week in a #showup challenge with Maddy Shine, looking at how I display what UC Grace does and whether it’s accessible for everyone to find. I know I’m going to learn lots and be mind boggled at the same time. But like I said at the beginning, it’s good to challenge ourselves to keep going.

I want to leave you with some key things I’d love to share about UC Grace (in a nutshell!!).

What do we do?

We teach people to go deeper with their Christian Faith using dance and movement, and teach dance leaders to do the same!

Where do we do it?

  • Nationwide – where there is a need and where we are asked!
  • On location as regular workshops in Surrey, Hampshire and Essex.
  • Online – training, workshops and resources.

Who can access us?

Men, women and families are able to take part in our events, some events target a specific audience and that is always made clear on the booking page. Churches and organisations can also access us for training, guidance and resources.

What is my motivation?

To enable people to grow close to God whilst sharing my passion for my faith, dance and movement. Building a network across the country for people to be part of. You can read more about why I do what I do here.

10 Years Growing and Releasing Dancers

As I stepped out in January 2010 to begin work in schools and share with churches, I had no idea about the journey that God would take me on. I’ve learnt a lot along the way, it’s not always been easy, but God has been consistent and faithful throughout all of it.

That’s the most important thing that I hold on to, that God has always been there, he has carried the purpose of UC Grace, and I have tried to be obedient to that. Sure, I’ve made stumbles along the way, but my desire remains the same, to take people on a journey of a deeper conversation with God using dance and movement .

The further into 2020 we have gone, the clearer it has become, not only how important it is to be in relationship with others who desire to use dance and movement as their language to God, but also to encourage others to encounter dance and movement to deepen their journey with God.

Putting this video together, brought lots of memories back, so many different children and adults that I have had the privilege to teach, encourage, share, and grow in their journey. Sometimes that led to further dance, other times it acted as a stepping stone for them to continue on the journey that God has for them.

My prayer as I continue to grow UC Grace from 2020 onward’s, is that I will rest and lean into what God has planned. That pausing is okay, silence is okay, from out of the silence God will speak more boldly, more extravagantly. To have the courage to try new things, and trust God with the outcome that comes from them.

So whether you have been part of the UC Grace Journey from the beginning or you have joined us more recently. Enjoy the watching the video, where I share a bit more about the journey, relive some highlights from the past 10 years and share some testimonies.

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.

Keep moving and trusting in Jesus that the plan he has for you, is the one that you are destined for. God will get you there, you might want to take some twists and turns but Jesus will always been there, pick you up and carry you when needed.

Build God’s Kingdom – Change the Atmosphere

Happy Easter!

Today we celebrate our risen King. Let’s dance somewhere not seen before. Let’s build God’s kingdom and change the atmosphere.

We begin by joining in the 3rd day after Jesus died, the day that he rose again. The two Mary’s found an empty tomb. And an angel told them Jesus was risen just as he said he would. Go and tell the disciples the angels said.

Skipping forward to after the encounters we hear how Jesus then gives us the commission. Let’s read it in the message version. Matthew 28.18-20.

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.

I will be with you… He says it, claim it, Jesus will be with you.

As I prepared for today I asked God to be specific about what I could bring on a Easter Sunday like we won’t have again in our lifetime. What could I challenge you, encourage you, show you as we celebrate, remember and share this awesome day of risen King.

He turns our mourning into dancing

Our weeping into joy

Our pain in to laughter

He calms the seas

And he stands, always with us.

At the beginning of the commission it says ‘go out and train everyone you meet, far and near in this way of life.’ (The Message)

Ponder these questions –

  1. What could ‘train everyone you meet’ mean?
  2. What ‘way of life’ in your life could you demonstrate to others?

This is the churches time.

The Rend Collective song, ‘Build your Kingdom here’, speaks of “change the atmosphere”, of building God’s kingdom in amongst whatever is happening in the world. You know my passion of the impact that dance and movement has on those around us, as we witness Gods word and action. We have seen change through responding to the call to stepping out and responding in dance and movement.

So my final questions to you is –

Are you ready to change ATMOSPHERE?

Take a flag, streamer, ribbon, piece of material, anything you are comfortable with. Step up and change the atmosphere in a place that is near to you.  Watch the video and see a snapshot of my heart from the song ‘Build your kingdom here’. Let’s dance louder with our movements to the song. Stir the atmosphere as you move to the chorus particularly.

This is part of our Prayer Dance Bite programmer. We meet 3 times a week to move, dance and pray using scripture and other themes. You can check out more info here.

Dance Ministry – Four ways we can raise a Worship Dance Army!

Wow. What a period of unknown we are entering into. I’m sure each of us have many different feelings at the moment. One thing for sure, is that we need to stand firm on our foundation – God’s word and Jesus. It has struck me that we need to be active with our dance ministry in this period of change moving forward, God has been speaking to me about raising a worship dance army.

That my heart cannot be held by circumstance. For my eyes are locked on the God who sees the end. So when this world around me cries out, “Who can stand?” I know That I will not be moved for my feet are planted in You.

Lyrics from Firm Foundation, Selah

I want to share with you four ways that you can choose develop your dance ministry during this time of change. Ways that you as an individual can grow and develop your dance ministry, or ways you can do it for your group.

1. We are called for such a time as this.

During some of the many hours I am up with my son, I had quite an intense time of searching with God. There are many things on my mind at the moment, but the biggest one is that God is calling us dancers and movers to step up. Step up and move, dance, declare God’s glory, peace, power and love across all that is going on.

The words from the song Firm Foundation have washed over me during the past week, speaking affirmation, encouragement and joy into a situation that looks quite bleak! We share our faith through dance and movement, demonstrating our faith, deeds and action.

Part of my response to this conversation with God involved embracing the lovely March weather. Heading to the beach, because that was where God said I should dance, and putting movement to this song.

So the first way to develop your dance ministry is by being willing to respond to Gods call.

Moving forward as a dancing army

Last year I shared about the golden whirlwind picture I was given, where essentially there were little tornadoes above each person’s head. As dancers and movers moved the little tornadoes gathered together into a big one.

All those little ripples merged together to create a change in the atmosphere that was unprecedented (you can read more about it here). I had already begun to see this picture start to come to fruition at the beginning of the year. But going forward our ability to move and dance as one will be even more important.

God is leading me to encourage a Dancing Army. By this I mean, making the choice to use our dance and movement to cause an even greater shift in the atmosphere. We have this magnificent opportunity to demonstrate worship and faith in different way going forward. Your dance ministry can help this grow by being bold and stepping out, building a dancing army. Choosing to simply be Jesus with your movement and encouraging others.

Dance a little Louder

The song Raise a Hallelujah has a line in it ‘sing a little louder’ where every bit of me wants to do more than the words give. God is calling us to move more, to dance strong, dance it loud and dance it from the heart. Now is our time as dancers to step out into all God has made us to be. To pray, to move, to go deeper with God.

Part of this requires gathering with other dancers and as we become more of a dancing army – our dance, our song – is getting louder.

Dance ministry is hard work, it requires dedication and always choosing to put Gods pathway first. It also requires stepping out to encourage others and be in the gap when others can’t. Dancing louder with more vibrancy, declaring Gods heart and putting his word front and centre.

Create an online dance ministry community

Community brings cohesion, the opportunity to join together and move as one consistently. You cannot beat face to face dance ministry. However, you must adapt to the circumstances around you, which is why at UC Grace we are launching Prayer Dance Bites. Short 20 minute gatherings online 2-3 times a week, to read and respond to scripture. All ages welcome.

How could you create community online to encourage others with your dance ministry. Choose to get people moving and dancing their prayer. Creating fellowship, catch up and time together.

Want to join us online?

There are several different ways that you can join UC Grace online.

  • Prayer Dance Bites provide the opportunity to connect scripture and pray through weekly sessions via zoom. Further information is available here.
  • Scripture Prompts bring you scripture right into your inbox once a week. They offer 3 ways to engage with scripture in a way that you might not normally. For more information head here.
  • There are a variety of Online Dance Workshops that are running, head to our online page to see what’s running at the moment.

Don’t forget this….

A movement creates a ripple.

Dance Worship Weekend – what’s the big fuss?

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

How did it begin?

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

Defining a weekend away

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

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

So how did it develop?

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the soul of the weekend?

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

Hugging embrace.
Dance Worship weekend 2018

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

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

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

WOW!!

What next?

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

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

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

Have you joined us on one?

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

Teaching Children Dance and Movement Round Up

Teaching children dance and movement exercise one.

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

Section 1 – warm up and ice breakers

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

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

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

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

SAMSUNG CSC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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