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.

6 Essentials when planning a Dance Worship Workshop

Planning is essential in all forms of delivery, whether that is for dance or something different. Throughout nearly 20 years of teaching, I have tried many ways to layout a dance workshop or session, today you get to hear the layout I find most useful!

It might be that you want to create a whole session or just one exercise or series of movements, whatever it is, it is still the same process. We’ll talk in terms of a ‘session’ but the same applies to an exercise/ series of movements.

This post is all with reference to leading a Christian based dance worship workshop of some form. However, all that is shared can be applied in a normal secular context without faith.

Before we get going though, there are a few things that you need to have decided in order to plan the workshop most effectively –

  • Who will be your age or population focus?
  • What is your theme – including the main focus and intended outcome
  • How long is your session and how will you divide elements within the session
  • What is the number of participants that will be at the workshop, or what are your maximum numbers?

Each one of the above can impact the workshop in different ways, so take the time to make it specific to what you are wanting to achieve.

6 essentials when planning a dance worship workshop

So what 6 essential things should I include?

1. Ice breaker

Whether you know the participants well, or they are completely new faces, you can never start a session cold. An ice breaker allows participants the opportunity to begin the session recognising that they are in safe space, that their ‘ability’ won’t be questioned, and that they feel welcomed to see where the workshop will take them.

This initial opening/ ice breaker will set the tone for the rest of the workshop, participants will either be hooked and want to go further or may feel unsure about continuing. Therefore this ‘hook in’ needs to grab their focus, allow participants to tune in with others and get ready to learn what is coming.

Here’s a few ideas that are tried and tested, they are all adaptable for all ages and abilities –

  • What’s your name and where are you from?
  • How has your week been? Can you use one word to describe your week?
  • What brought you to this workshop? What’s one thing that you’d love to learn in this workshop?
  • Say your name and do an action, everyone else copy, work your way round the group.
  • Make a freeze shape of how you are feeling about the workshop at the beginning.

Imagine these 5 minutes (because that’s all it usually is) are your welcome speech, the chance to win the vote of everyone and have them wanting more. Have energy, be friendly, encourage discussion.

2. Warm up

This is so important and should NEVER be by-passed. Not only does it prepare our body, but it also ensures we are safe with our movement, our listening and helps us be our best in the session. So, what do I need to do in a warm up?

Raise the heart rate – it’s important to gradually raise our heart rate and body temperature. This will decrease injuries and increase the body’s ability to move more efficiently.

Create a sense of fun and involvement – look at it as a great opportunity to let them see who you are, how you teach and to get moving with you.

Include dynamic stretches – these are stretches that move and encourage the body to go beyond its normal range of motion, therefore stretching and molding the muscles to work effectively.

Introduce the theme – the warm up is fab place to subtly (or not) introduce your theme. Be creative and be literal, with children a game can be a great place to start.

Exploring movement

3. Exploration

Before you rush head long into a sequence or main part of the workshop, it’s good to lay the foundation of what the session will explore and provide the chance for participants to learn specific moves which may aid them later in the workshop.

You may prefer to call this section exercises, as it allows set themes or movements to be explored that provide focus. For example, if your theme was God’s Breath, here’s one thing you could do –

In a space focus on taking 3 deep breaths, filling and emptying your lungs as much as you can. On the next set of 3 breaths, take yourself up on a rise as you breathe in, and lower as you breathe out. On the next set take a step forward as you breathe in and step back as you breathe out.

This very simple exercise can be developed in whatever way you want to fit in with the participants, and challenge them more if needed. To lengthen and imprint the impact breath can have on initiating movement, ask them to close their eyes as they do the movement. This will do several things –

  • Increase their awareness of their breath and the size of their movement
  • Encourage them to work on their balance and their core
  • Help them to feel the weight in their movement, therefore adding another dynamic to how it can be developed.

Don’t overthink the exploration that you want to do. Provided you know what you want as your intended outcome, this section can be a real fun section to develop.

4. Sequence

Whilst I have called this section ‘sequence’ I recognise that not all workshops will have a sequence as such to learn. So, consider this also the ‘main bit’, the chunk that you really want everyone to grasp from the workshop.

This could involve learning part of a set sequence, group work expanding a Bible verse, song verse, the theme, working with a resource, and so much more!

But what you need to remember, is that whatever you did in the previous section needs to flow with ease into this one, a seamless transition, rather than a stilted connection.

5. Development/ free movement

Up until this point, you will have mostly guided, taught or impressed on participants the best way forward with their movement. This section allows the participant to start to take some ownership over their movement style and how they want to develop.

More often than not, this is where I give my participants a very loose task. I do this because I believe by this point in the workshop, they are capable of simulating movements together themselves and working with a partner or bigger group to create something that flows with the theme from the exploration section, to sequence section to this one. It’s also a great chance for me to sit back and see Gods work in progress, which is the most exciting bit of course!

Supporting through prayer

6. Cool down/ reflection

Just like it’s important to begin with a warm up, it’s also essential to finish with a cool down. This section has two purposes.

The first, to lower heart rates and bring our bodies back to a place they are normally at, using stretches and breathing to do this.

The second, to reflect on the impact of the session, to pray together or with someone individually, or take a moment of quiet. You can never underestimate the impact that a workshop will have on someone. It may not be obvious on the day, but God always moves, even when it’s not visible.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this outline is a process that I have found works well for me. Each of us are individual and all work differently. Take your time to find out what works for you, practise it and let God lead!

Let me know what are your essentials when you’re planning a worship workshop.

Want to be kept up to date with all things UC Grace? Head here.

Dancing at Candlemas

Last night I had the privilege of being invited to be part of the Candlemas service at St Micahel’s, Aldershot, it was such a lovely evening, I left buzzing and I want to share some of what God spoke to me during the service.

I had been asked if I could find some dancers who could respond as the felt led to a piece of live piano music based on Psalm 121: I Life my eyes up, to the Mountain. The lovely Helen Warren joined me as a second dancer, and our prayer before we danced was that we would reflect some of Jesus’ heart, that people would be drawn in with a desire to explore God more through our movement.

Recently I recognised that I spend a lot of time teaching and delivering, and not so much time dancing for myself. Last night gave me the opportunity to come before God and thank him that I have the ability to move, but also reinforced that for UC Grace to grow, and share Gods heart, I need to make sure I am giving God mine, and that in turn requires time set aside for me to dance, and be lost in his love through movement.

As the service progressed, Alwyn, the Vicar asked if we would dance again later in the service. By this point me and Helen felt we had ‘warmed up’, laid the foundations of showing Jesus through movement. So, as Jesus Christ, I think upon your sacrifice played, our hearts were stirred more by the spirit and we loved sharing more of that through dance and movement.

Much of the journey I have been on over the past week has encompassed the desire to draw back to the centre of what and why I do what I do with UC Grace. There were several things that God drew my attention to last night, it made me chuckle as the theme seemed to be everywhere I went at the moment.

In my previous post I mentioned about the interaction between creativity and the heart, and that my desire when I started had always been that it was about the hearts impacted not the numbers. You can read more about it here. It is this theme of people’s hearts and prayer that keep cropping up.

This prayer below reminded me that God places me where I need to be and with who I need to be, and I need to be willing to serve Him in what ever way that looks like.

It’s really hard in reality isn’t it to keep that sense of doing what God wants and following his will. This chorus of ‘I the Lord of sea and sky’ (brilliant song, you can listen to here), sums it up very well.

I will hold your people in my heart. The people that God puts in front of me at events, in conversations and through dancing. Each one is important.

We did manage to video some of what we did last night. Not everything is in full view. But it will give you a flavour from our first dance.

What special services have you danced in? Let me know.

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How important is advent to your family?

How often does Advent arrive and you feel like you weren’t ready for it, or you groan because that means that Christmas is going to sneak up really quickly and you still need to get x amount of things done first?

In an effort to be a bit more organised I started thinking about Advent in October! Yes October! But mainly because my daughter is nearly 4 and really clued in to what is going on and already talking about Christmas! I felt this year would provide a great opportunity to develop further some of the activities that I already do during the Advent season.

I really struggle with how secular advent has become, I feel you can get blind sided with all the ‘extras’ that seem to go with that time of year, particularly in the run up. God wants us to remember him in all we do and put him first, and that includes in amongst all the ‘extras’ that get thrown. So my questions to you, with December under 2 weeks away, how have you prepared for Advent? What is going to be your most important thing during the advent season? How will you celebrate it as a family?

For me, I identify that advent can be such an exciting time and an awesome chance to explore not only the Christmas story but also ways we can pray, interact and move on our journey with God. This year to help, I have identified 3 areas to form the basis of our Advent time – Celebrate, Create and Explore.

Celebrate – take a moment to find something specific to celebrate within our family, or something that Jesus did.

Create – make something that will enable us to learn more about an aspect of Advent, the Bible and the Christmas Story.

Explore – read a bit of the Christmas story and chat, move and go deeper with the themes from it.

I’m looking forward to writing some ‘kindness elves’ activities (there’ll be more on this in another post), making HOPE jars, dove mobiles, and prayer bunting! All to help inspire imagination and generate conversation in our family.

You can read some more ideas about how to explore advent as family from one of our free downloads, just fill in the form here. There will be a series of 4 available throughout the course of December.

Don’t forget that there is also our Family Advent Fun event on the 1st December.

 

Dance Weekend 2019 announcement

It is with much excitement that I can share with you the news that there will be a 2019 dance weekend!! This has been something I have been mulling over for a while, and this week took the plunge.

So save the date! We are doing to a new location, with a different format and will challenge you to go deeper and explore further. This won’t replace our ‘normal’ dance weekend that has been happening every other year, but is in addition.

Keep an eye for further information as super early bird booking will open this side of Christmas.

Dancing with a Holy Roar

“In Him we Live and Move and have our Being.” Acts 17.28

God has given us our amazing bodies to move and dance with in whatever way we can. The other day I came across Chris Tomlins new song ‘HOLY ROAR‘, it took my breath away. It spoke right into my core, about why I move and dance, and the strength, passion and integrity with which I do it. It prompted an opportunity to share at our latest Living Colour workshop how we could explore Dancing with a Holy Roar.

But what does Holy Roar actually mean? It’s best to start by looking at how the dictionary defines each word.

Lets start with Holy – dedicated or consecrated to God, sacred. Which sounds a great way to describe this special word. Participants at the workshop also came up with the following –

  • Special/ quietness – an awe
  • Pure, sacred. Set apart and hard to translate
  • Jesus dying on the cross. What he did for us

In essence, Holy, is something that is indescribable, beyond words, definitely set apart and something special.

Whilst Roar is defined as – a full deep, prolonged cry uttered by a lion or wild animal. That’s pretty intense isn’t it?! Other words came up in discussion such as –

  • Power
  • Roaring like a lion
  • Strong
  • Loud
  • Aggressive/ emotive

How can we link these two words together? If I now asked you what you think Holy Roar means as one thing what would you say?

  • Cry for justice from a place of deep grief or righteous anger
  • From the belly – it uses your whole being
  • Confrontation with all your strength but you’re 100% up for it
  • Freedom

Living Colour October 2018

What do you think it means to have a Holy Roar in dance ministry and life? Massive questions hey! But have a think, how could you move and dance with Holy Roar as your foundation?

My favourite line from the responses above has to be the picture of ‘from the belly’, because actually that’s what it’s all about. When we worship, when we cry out to God, when we battle and declare he is victorious. We are putting our whole heart into it. We’re choosing to be strong, clear, and direct with our movement and what we want to declare.

Think of it like your belt of truth. The belt is something that holds things in place, stabilises your core and carries things. If you have a weak core, your ability to move efficiently will be diminished. The core of moving and dancing comes from knowing the truth in the Bible. I love the imagery of tightening the belt the more you know. It’s like you’re choosing to take a stand point and are notching in ready for the fight!

So when you choose to move and dance. Think about the stand point you are taking, and how you can use a Holy Roar in your movement.

What different ways do you pray?

What different ways do you pray?

Weaving prayer into our everyday life can sometimes be a challenge can’t it? I love exploring ways to use movement and prayer together, go deeper with God and journey with others.

Amazing Grace Course July 2018

We’ve developed a fantastic resource to enable you to start moving at a pace that you are comfortable with, pausing where needed. It’s completely FREE and you can access it here. We’d love to know how you get on, so please do let us know.

When I connect prayer and movement I find it easier to associate with specific areas. In the FREE download – 5 Ways to use Prayer and Movement together,  I identify the following areas –

  • Walking
  • Knees
  • Thanking
  • Declaring
  • Revealing

Each area providing an avenue to explore movement in a different way. It can be really daunting choosing to step out and pray using movement. But the thing that God delights most, is not only that you try, but that nothing is EVER WRONG. Any way you choose to move for him, there is a party. PLUS if someone sees you doing prayer movement, you never know the impact that that will have on them.

So go on, go for it and try stepping out! Grab the it here.