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.

Intercessory Prayer – What is intercessory prayer?

Prayer is a personal thing, how each of us do it will reflect our character and the unique way that God made us. In many places the Bible talks about prayer, but today I want to focus on what is intercessory prayer. A phrase sometimes people frown at or misunderstand and consider that intercessory prayer is something some super holy people do. The reality? We are all intercessors! I hope to share with you today how you can be encouraged about intercessory prayer and understand what it is.

Let’s start with prayer itself.

Prayer is our ability to talk to God, to invite him into our day to day lives and express what is on our hearts. It’s recognising that you’re just having a conversation. But this conversation is with someone who not only cares about you deeply but wants the absolute best for you no matter what.

Prayer is something that is also put on a pedestal, and we are led to believe that we need to do it, say it, act it in a certain way. It took me many years to recognise that prayer is about how I live my life with Jesus, not how someone else does it. The Bible gives us the tools we need, most importantly the Lord’s Prayer, as our anchor and springboard to create our prayers. When we can grasp how simple prayer can be in our life, we can begin to understand about what intercessory prayer is.

Two people facing each other joining hands in intercessory prayer.

Do you pray for others?

The dictionary describes the word ‘intercessory’ as having the function of interceding. Interceding is about acting or interposing on behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble. Think about when you pray, what do you pray for? Are praying for anyone else at all? Then you are interceding and creating an intercessory prayer!!

Ezekiel 22.30 is a great place to look at this in more detail. It says –

“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.

Ezekiel recorded these words from God. God went looking for someone to stand in the gap for sinful Jerusalem. This is a brilliant example of what we can do in our own lives. Do you need to step into the gap when someone else can’t?

I love thinking of this as an image of shields. God’s armour is there to protect and ground us. The shield may offer some protection on its own, but when it joins with others it’s a mighty force. As we step out to pray for others, we are strengthening that shield and choosing to put on God’s armour.

Stop wondering what intercessory prayer is. You are already doing it. Those times you say you’ll pray for someone; you’re stepping in and strengthening that defence. Don’t be disheartened, be encouraged that you are already an intercessor!

A group of dancers reaching with their arms up all close together.

How can I deepen my understanding of what is intercessory prayer?

For this last bit I wanted to help demonstrate ways that you can be an intercessor when responding to scripture.

The Psalms are packed full of references to prayer. As this month we are focusing on the Psalms, I wanted to share some verses that specifically reference prayer and how they could help you be an intercessor!

Psalm 4.1 – Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

The key themes here that you can pray into someone for are – comfort to know that God is there, peace and trust that God will carry them through their distress.

Psalm 66.20 – Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!

The key themes here that you can pray into someone for are – praise that God had heard their prayers and that God’s love is bigger than they know.

Psalm 141.2 – May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

The key themes to pray for someone here are – that the Holy Spirit will have the freedom to work in the areas that it’s needed and that the person will be thankful with how God is working.

I do hope this encourages you in your prayer life and stepping in the gap for others. Some of these blog posts might also be useful to you.

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.

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

During prayer dance bites last night we entered into a great conversation about whether we truly recognised that God lavishes his love on us. I just want to take a few moments today to share 3 insights that came out of our discussions. We looked particularly at the scripture reference 1 John 3.1:

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

There is so much depth in this verse and so much that we can learn, apply and trust God with. In the whirlwind of life, how deep God loves us often gets lost. Take a moment and think about what the word Lavish could mean, and what it means to you.

God loves us so much it invades it.

God’s love is like an invasion.

How do you like to feel love? Or how do you show love to others? We have a generous God that continually pours out his love to sustain us. But God knows the way to love us that speaks to us the most. If you’ve not heard about the love languages, they are certainly worth looking up (see link at the end). The Love Languages identify the way that you receive love best, this can help you in your various relationships. God loves us in such a way that He doesn’t have to think about how to give us love, He knows. Often we have the decision about whether we choose to receive that love.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us.

Consider the image of an invasion happening, when a winning side arrive on the scene to complete the invasion, they consume the area they are aiming for. They take it over completely. That’s the love God has for us. A love that overwhelms, releases the floodgates and crashes into us. God loves us with such a depth it’s overpowering.

There is no argument, God loves us.

This sense of overpowerment causes us to pause and recognise that we are called children of God. Children have an innocence and need to know they are loved, to feel compassion. As God calls us his children, he makes a clear statement that brings no argument.

…that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Think of it like this – God loves us, lavishes on us, because we are children of God. As children of God we need to receive that with an open heart that enables us to stand firm with all God has for us.

We need to brace for impact.

Is your heart really open to all that God has for you? Are you ready to receive it? Chris Tomlins song Impact has a line in it that says:

Brace for the impact

The first time I heard it I did a double take. Why do we need to brace? What are bracing for? As we talked during prayer dance bites it dawned on us all. That how much God loves us is an overwhelming, tidal wave surging, storm crashing impact. By that I mean if we truly receive the words of this verse. Recognising that God loves us lavishly as we are his children, love will invade us with such force that we need to brace for the impact because it will be all consuming.

How can we respond to this?

If you’re a mover and dancer you can explore how God loves us by dancing to the song Impact by Chris Tomlin. Think about these 3 words –

  • Invade
  • Firm
  • Impact

What can these look like in movement? How do these words make you feel when you think about the depth that God loves us?

This video highlights what was shared during our Prayer Dance Bite session as well as some further thoughts and movement from me.

Further information

You can find out about the Five Love Languages here.

Not sure what Prayer Dance Bites is but would like to know more? Head here. Would you like to be part of the UC Grace journey? Then head here to sign up and be kept in the loop with what we are doing.

Lets brace for the impact of Gods love.

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

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

Tell us a bit about yourself.

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

What is Toddle Tales?

Toddle Tales is the re-telling of Bible Stories for children, particularly the under 5s. Although, since lockdown ages up to 10 years old have also been enjoying it! All stories are made up of narrative and songs. This helps reinforce the story and these songs are written to the tunes of nursery rhymes. Before lockdown I did live sessions which were very interactive. The children got a chance to join in with the songs with either dressing up, performing actions or holding puppets. Since lockdown I have ventured into producing videos. Which have been reaching lots of different ages groups and I know have been very useful for parents when they want their children to engage with something Biblical on a Sunday.

How important is the Christian faith with Toddle Tales?

The Christian faith is important to Toddle Tales, because that is what drove me to create it in the first place. It was when I was working for a company called Molly Moo Cow, going into nurseries and singing and telling stories. God gave me the idea to do this for Bible stories.

Using the skills that God has given me, I have created another way of telling the Bible to children, in a way that is accessible. It is early days for Toddle Tales, and I have no idea what the future holds…but that is what faith is, trusting without knowing what will happen.

Lauren teaching Bible stories for children using Mary and Joseph.

Why is it so invested is it so invested in teaching Bible stories for children?

Toddle Tales is invested in children because as Whitney Houston put it “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way” (Yes, I love a bit of Whitney). But of course, before Whitney sung this, the Bible teaches us to

“Train them up, in the way they should go.” Proverbs 22.6

Toddle Tales is just another way of teaching the Bible to young children, in the hope to engage them from a young age and plant seeds in their heart.

Can you share 3 tips to encourage parents in their conversation or teaching with their children about God?

OK so I sometimes struggle with this one myself(!) What I do try to do is best described with three words – pray, dance, and joy!

Pray

Actively choose to pray with them before they go to bed. Currently its just me who leads prayers as my eldest son struggles a bit. We thank God for the day and ask for a good night’s sleep with no bad dreams and that we would have a good day tomorrow. I feel it’s important to identify the things we are thankful for as well as look ahead to what is to come. Often, it’s very short to keep their concentration. But it’s still demonstrating to them how we can have a conversation with God regularly.

Dance

We do a lot of dancing, so I put on worship music and let the words of the song permeate into their souls. Waymaker is a firm favourite at the moment, but often we will find a compilation on Spotify and see what comes up. Adding in songs that they want to as they go. I try to give them a sense that all music works with movement and talk about them having a dancing spirit and how God loves it when they dance!

Finding the joy!

My older son gets very cross and his personality gets him stuck in the “it’s not fair” thoughts and attitudes. So, I have recently tried a new tactic of singing “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart song” Yeah, you know the one I mean, it gets stuck in your head!! But I have found that cuts through his mood. He tries not to smile, but I can see it helps him to break free. He even started singing it the other day in CO-OP (really loudly haha). I suppose what I try to do is rather than drum into them about God. I bring God into our every day, through creative means, as we all know that children learn best through creativity.

Energetic Lauren sharing Bible Stories.

Finally, Lauren, what is the thing you love most about Toddle Tales?

The thing I most love about Toddle Tales is creating the stories and performing them. Since lockdown I have also ventured into producing videos, which I have also loved doing and the feedback I have got from them, has also been worth it too.

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So great to hear about Toddle Tales and some of Lauren’s heart. If you want to know more about Toddle tales you can follow them on Facebook here and check out some of their videos on YouTube here.

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

Pinterest graphic Toddle tales sharing Bible stories for children.

Closer to God – My journey of advent prayer dance

If you follow me on social media you will have seen me posting daily throughout advent, an advent prayer dance. As advent comes to an end I wanted to share my journey of where it’s taken me over the 24 days. Prayer dance initiates so many people’s conversations with God. I delighted having the opportunity to be intentional, persevere and draw closer to God during this season.

Smiling with intention in advent prayer dance

Intentionality

In a month when I knew life would be very busy, I knew I had to be intentional about my prayers and communication with God during this advent season, choosing to a advent prayer dance everyday was very special. Prayer dance is something very close to the heart of UC Grace and has been the soul of 2020 as we have kept people moving for Jesus.

This wasn’t just about being intentional with DANCING a prayer, but being intentional about WHAT I was going to pray about. Whilst God gives us the freedom to move how we wish. If there is no intention behind what we are doing then it can be hard to see Jesus at the centre.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.

Romans 12.12

My intention was to share some of what God was saying during this season, identifying daily different things I could pray for. Which, through sharing with you would encourage, grow and ignite you during this season.

A goal of mine at the beginning of 2020, was to be intentional about incorporating movement into my daily life. At the beginning of the year I didn’t know what that would look like, and I probably should have been more specific – considering goals are supposed to be specific!

But 2020 has brought a new dimension to my movement, as it’s got closer to the end of the year I was prompted to share this with you. The advent dances offer glimpses into how I have been feeling and things God has laid on my heart.

Persevering to Jesus in advent prayer

Perseverance

This year more than ever perseverance has been important. In family, personal, spiritual and work life. Much of what we knew was turned upside down over night with the pandemic. With the majority of stuff still nowhere near what it once was or will be.

Perseverance during #adventdance for me has been about still choosing to move when I was tired, sad, or fed up. Those times that I made the effort to move through the emotions drew me closer to God. At the end of the day we to make the choice – 

To read about Jesus

Learn about how he lives

Ask him to help us in the tough times

Say thank you when we see him in the big stuff

OR

To live Jesus

Demonstrating to others who He is through how we live

Praying continually regardless of circumstance

Seeking joy and thankfulness on a daily basis

Prayer dance often puts you out of your comfort zone, challenging where God is in certain aspects of your life and your attitude towards others. But, it enables you to persevere through all circumstances, and dance when words are not sufficient to talk to God.

The days when I pushed through with advent prayer and still danced, peace reigned!

Kneeling closer to Jesus in advent

Closeness to God through advent prayer dance

Often people say pictures speak 1000 words. There’s detail, emotion, depth, growth and so much more when you look at pictures. But look at movement and you see someone’s heart on display.

You identify what they are feeling at that very moment and there’s an invitation for you to come and take part in what they are experiencing. As I shared these advent dances I was sharing what my heart was going through that day. There were days which were hard, but worship brings such a delight. Instead of letting the day dictate my feelings, I stepped out and followed through with the choice (intention) I had made to still dance (persevere). Through this I drew into God’s presence and stood by his side as I moved.

Reaching the end of my advent prayer dances, I really wanted to share with people something that God was saying I should do over the Christmas season, and that’s smile! Yes, I have a husband deployed and I always knew that this Christmas would be a different one. 

However, it’s now a different one for everyone in the country (little bit of comfort there). Despite many feeling like ‘Christmas is cancelled’. God says smile :-), I am here. Seek me, find me and draw close to me in the way that fits you.

We are all individual and how we choose to draw close to God during this time will be different. My journey is movement… what’s yours?

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

Music – Smile, Sidewalk Prophets.

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

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

Pinterest picture of advent prayer dance pictures.

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

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

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

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

John 4.23

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

Serving

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

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

Creation

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

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

Romans 12.11

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

Words

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

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

Psalm 29.2

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

writing as ways to worship

Art

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

artwork saying breathe in worship
art work exploring roots

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

How intimacy fits into ways of worship.

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

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

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

dancer arms out in worship

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

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

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

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

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

Pinterest ways of worship

Types of worship – Three things that can impact dance to worship

The interaction of worship is different for each person. Everyone’s understanding of drawing closer to God in worship will be different. Part of this is recognising the types of worship that people connect with are individual to that person. I want to share 3 things that have impacted me using dance to worship.

It’s all in the MOMENT. God gives each of us ‘moments’ in our lives. Moments to be ‘in’ and respond to.

How did it start?

I am often asked how I started to use dance in worship. The simple answer is, as a child I had the freedom to copy someone else and was encouraged to grow and explore with movement. Adults are such role models to children – watching and doing provided a way for me to draw closer to God – my faith grew beneath the surface.

Think about a seed and its roots, often we wait a long time for the seed to sprout. Underneath the surface things must happen first. Roots are crucial to the seed for it be anchored in the soil, they also help to obtain the right nutrients and conditions for the seed to flourish. For many years roots were anchoring within me, ready to give me the nudge when I needed it.

From an early age I realised that people connected with worship in different ways – through singing, playing an instrument, writing poetry, doing art, moving their body and much more. Some people assume that worship is just singing in church, it is so much more. Everyone has the chance to explore types of worship that suit them.

Two worship dancers holding hands exploring types of worship.

What is dance to me?

Dance for me is a way to connect, engage, share and journey with people in their faith, a stepping stone to something deeper. God always amazes me with the way he shows up and ministers to people during workshops and dance days. He cannot be put in a box and you have to be willing to expect the unexpected.

Using dance to engage with one’s faith is about putting an action to a thought, feeling or word. Allowing God to move through you and speak to you through that. It is the language I use to deepen my conversation with God, respond to the Holy Spirit and reveal Jesus to others.

Therefore, for me, dance and faith are one. I feel Jesus, experience him, and get carried on the wind by him.

So how can fusing dance and faith together act as one of the types of worship?

Fusing dance and faith together ignites a passion, brings a purpose to your faith and a freedom to the journey you have with God.

Passion…

Can be such a big word and mean so many things, but when you worship you are choosing to share in something that is powerful and special to you. I have this phrase ‘Passion in a Suitcase’. For quite a while my circumstances meant I had to move around with where I lived and the things that I did. Each time my passion was not lost but put into a suitcase. How I unpacked it when I arrived at my new destination always depended on God.

Our passion can be used in different ways, it is the ignition to what will come after which often provides the act of choosing to bring out something that is within. Dance and movement offer that opportunity and an interaction to explore how dance can bring passion to types of worship.

Purpose

Is choosing to put use dance to communicate with God using the solid foundation that comes from the Bible. Just as our faith needs to be rooted in the Word, so does our movement.

The Armour of God is an amazing symbol of the ‘equipment’ that God gives us to worship and follow him. By choosing to raise our arms whilst singing in praise and worship, kneel in response to the words of a song or bow our heads to pray. We are making movement and putting purpose into our journey.

Dance in worship need not be flamboyant or to a professional standard. Instead it is strong and contagious and part of our everyday actions. Just like worship is part of our day when we praise Him for the glorious skies, thank Him for our safe journeys, cry out to Him in pain. We are all already dancers in our own right. God created us to move (Acts 17) and we all move in our own individual way.

Using the word ‘dancer’ might be too strong for some of you. So instead consider a phrase my husband likes to use ‘I don’t dance, I move well’. For him having the association of being a dancer is too strong. But he will happily say that he moves well and enjoys doing so when he does. Perhaps for you, this is the preferred way of looking at it; moving well and moving with God.

Single lady worshipping with a yellow and blue ribbon.

Freedom…

God gives us freedom to demonstrate our journey how we need to. He also gives us the Holy Spirit, to enable us to grasp a deeper understanding of walking with Jesus. Faith and dance stimulate a different perspective on your relationship with God. Offering a safe way to explore other types of worship.

A simple exercise you can try is to think about ‘passing on the fire inside’. Think about a ball of light that is inside you wanting to grow, a tiny little flame. Flames are not always big to start with, they grow. As you imagine this flame glowing and growing inside you, how does it encourage you to start moving your body in reaction to this?

The Holy Spirit is always inside us, sometimes it is a still small flame, other times a raging fire, but we’ve got to be willing to let the fire grow and move in our lives as God would want it.

Group of dancers using ribbons in worship.

I want to leave you with a testimony from a dance day. It’s from a gentleman who is musical and plays in a worship band, who bravely came on the dance day having done no moving before. He had been feeling for a while that he wanted to move and do something much more in worship…

“It was very moving to dance as I wanted to worship music, meeting with God, moving my body freely for the first time without fear of judgement. Like strolling in long grass beside a river with God. It made me cry as I felt free to use my body to bring glory and praise to God for the first time.’

If you’d like to understand more about how worship dance can impact your life have a read through 1000 Reasons to dance for the King. There also opportunities to engage in our events, head over to our events page.

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