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

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

Understanding the background.

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

Brainstorm about Esther's character.

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

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

Creating a refrain to ground your Christian dance choreography.

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

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

Preparing to wear the crown of Queen Esther.

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

Developing the character descriptions.

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

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

Using a jump in Christian dance choreography.

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

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

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

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

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

Reaching into the plan that God has for Esther.

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

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

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

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

Pinterest graphic for  Christian dance choreography.

Closer to God – Encountering God through prayer and movement

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

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

Let me break it down a bit –

Standing and praying to God.

Standing

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

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

Kneeling and praying

Sitting (or kneeling)

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

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

Lying down encountering God through movement.

Lying down

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

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

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

Let’s put it into practice…

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

Now decide what you want to pray for…

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

Then move it…

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

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

Remember

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

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

Intention in the action creates the prayer.

Praying with God outside.

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

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

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

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

Tell us a bit about yourself.

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

What is Toddle Tales?

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

How important is the Christian faith with Toddle Tales?

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

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

Lauren teaching Bible stories for children using Mary and Joseph.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pray

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

Dance

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

Finding the joy!

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

Energetic Lauren sharing Bible Stories.

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

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

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

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

Pinterest graphic Toddle tales sharing Bible stories for children.

Worship Dance Ministry – God sustaining us through movement

Movement encounters our emotions in whatever form it takes – dancing, singing, sport, cooking – are just a few. They all involve movement and all provide ways to keep sustaining us when it gets tough. God is there to give us more than enough, all the time. But do you recognise that God sustaining us, enables us to share his word better, to love our passion greater and to pause letting our hearts get better? That thing that helps to sustain you, is a passion, it stirs your heart.

Sharing a passion…

This month we’ve been chatting a bit about passion, what it means to us as individuals, and what it might mean for the plan God has for us. I shared this week during my talk, Passion in a Suitcase some of my journey and scriptures that have enabled me to keep going no matter what.

I speak about how passion isn’t necessarily a specific activity it’s something that stirs your heart, it’s something that causes you to want to do more of it. That could be to do with a physical activity, it could be an emotion, it could be your workspace, it could be where you live, or it could be something to do with your family. If it stirs your heart it’s a passion! What’s stirring your heart today?

Today I want to look back on a fabulous dance day in 2014 and draw your attention to a dance that we did called ‘Can’t Stop Singing’. The song itself speaks about how God is more than enough. That God sustaining us, is Gods whole heart. Regardless of circumstances, regardless of what we feel, God is more than enough.

I feel it demonstrates some of that hidden passion inside us. It drew on emotions to explore the words and individually encounter the grace that God gives us. We moved in groups and recognised that moving together and saying that the Lord is our Redeemer over everything can bring so much joy.

The day was titled ‘Sharing a Passion, Generating Creativity.’ It allowed opportunity for God to work amongst the participants and see each of them grow closer to God with their faith.

I led the day with Joe Littledyke from Soul Survivor Watford. Whilst we were planning we had a real sense that the day was all about joy and celebrating. Celebrating that God sustaining us, always has done, will be, and that he is always there.

Bringing out our passion from darkness to light.

Lights on… Lights off… Let’s worship

The venue that we had the privilege to move in for the dance day, was equipped with various lights on the ceiling to change the lighting atmosphere. Normally we all worship with the lights on. But sometimes to bring out our passion, we have to begin in darkness and grow into the light.

During some of our time dancing that day we experimented with different lights. Chasing, jumping, growing and retreating with them. As God spoke to us over the course of the day participants recognised that the lights helped to portray and feel a real sense that God was there.

As we built the dance to the song ‘Can’t stop singing’ we experimented further what the lights could do and the impact they could have alongside the words of the song and the movements that were created.

For many, the moments of darkness put them into a sense of suspense. Suspense at not knowing when they needed to burst out and declare their movement. But suspense that God has called them to step out of the darkness and into the light.

God sustaining us is More than Enough

God will always give us more than enough. That was the key theme throughout the song ‘Can’t stop singing’. It cheers us to keep singing, moving, and trusting that God will give more than enough, to sustain us through the season that we are in.

Think about your season at the moment. How is it going? Are you giving yourself a chance to step out of the darkness and into the light declaring that God is more than enough? What does it mean to you when you say ‘God you are more than enough’.

As I say them I release the things on my heart back to God. Knowing that he knows my heart and what I need. Psalm 347.4 says ‘God gives you the desires of your heart.’ He will always supply what we need and give us more than enough!

I pray that as you watch this video, you will have a sense of the joy and celebration that God sings over your life. May you realise that God is all you need right now to sustain you. That he will carry you through this season, enlarging your territory and strengthening your foundation.

Be blessed!

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

What is the cornerstone of your faith? Is a really good blog post that encourages you to root yourself in some key scripture. This will enable us to see God sustaining us through seasons that are hard.

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

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

Kids love to tell their own story don’t they? There’s elaborations, rabbit holes and excitement, because what they draw from stories and teaching is different to other individuals. I find teaching kids, is often like changing lanes all the time. You don’t know whether that new lane will serve it’s purpose, so you just slip to another lane. Teaching kids worship dance allows scope for you develop your relationship with Jesus as well as theirs. It’s taking a step outside your normal ordered box and throwing things in the air.

Pointing to the nose teaching children dance.

God made each of us unique. That means how we learn, grow and live life is different for each of us. Kids have the innate ability to be one step ahead with their excitement and drive to try something different. For example, last night my children wanted to play in the garden, with their torches, in the dark. I started to set up the music player and speaker, and with awe and wonder they asked whether we were “going to dance in the garden… IN THE DARK”. To which I naturally said “yes, and I’ll do it with you!”. What followed was a crazy 20 minutes of dancing in the garden, in the dark. They copied me, I copied them, we each did our thing and we had a lot of fun! If you want to check out the dance you can do so here.

I wanted to share that short story first as within it, you can identify the 4 ways I mention that are important about teaching kids worship dance.

Share the Fun

Kids LOVE fun, they jump at the chance at something that will make them giggle and smile. Teaching kids worship dance requires you (I really do mean requires you) to be that teacher that sparks fun into the session. That doesn’t mean it’s always about laughing! It does mean you give the kids the time to build friendships and relationships. Making then feel safe in the space you’re in and providing chances for them to see the fun, in the faith that you share.

Dancing with children during a kids worship dance.

Be Engaging

As a dance teacher I am super picky about how I see others deliver and share things which are active. Perhaps, that’s because I am passionate, that if you choose to teach children, you do it because you want them to be engaged in the session. Or, whether it’s because I wouldn’t be teaching and sharing today if it hadn’t been for the dedication of various teachers. These teachers were passionate about engaging me in the content they were delivering. It could however be both these things. Children become influenced not just by what the see, but what they think, feel and do. They all play a part when you take them on a journey.

Engaging children in christian dance balancing on one leg

Delivering a kids worship dance session which is engaging is totally about stepping out of your comfort box. Although they like big and loud, and you might think that’s what engaging means. The reality is, your task is to grab their attention and hold it! These are some key ways I try to engage throughout a sessions with kids –

  • Short, small exercises that change between active and reflective.
  • You create, they create. Recap. Repeat
  • Read scripture or quotes, ask them to also read if they can
  • Share something, ask a question about what you shared. Say it back to them.

This is how I engage. Remember YOU ARE YOU, what ways could you engage with kids?

Being a model in kids worship dance

This is more than being a role model. It’s stepping out and dancing with the kids the whole time and going all out when you do! That might seem overkill, but after 15 years of teaching, the classes I went all out and partook fully, you saw the biggest results. Why?

Kids saw what the movement was meant to be. They saw passion in what God was speaking, and then connected to Gods word as they saw it come alive before them. Kids worship dance, is all about do, do, do. Model your passion for Jesus. Model your energy in the movement. Model your excitement when others join in with it. Take on the children’s uninhibited attitude to just do it!

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

Be Creative

Creativity weaves through all of the above suggestions, it allows a way to connect Gods word, movement, passion, and kids hearts. I draw upon more than dance in my kids worship dance sessions. I bring in drawing, material, games, speaking, crafting and more. That’s because I feel they offer a way to deepen the theme or scripture that’s being explored that session. Don’t limit yourselves to purely dance. To keep that fun, the engagement and modelling throughout the session, challenge yourself how you could share God’s word deeper with the kids.

Making Noahs boats out lollipop sticks.

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

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

Closer to God – My journey of advent prayer dance

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

Smiling with intention in advent prayer dance

Intentionality

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

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

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

Romans 12.12

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

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

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

Persevering to Jesus in advent prayer

Perseverance

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

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

To read about Jesus

Learn about how he lives

Ask him to help us in the tough times

Say thank you when we see him in the big stuff

OR

To live Jesus

Demonstrating to others who He is through how we live

Praying continually regardless of circumstance

Seeking joy and thankfulness on a daily basis

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

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

Kneeling closer to Jesus in advent

Closeness to God through advent prayer dance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music – Smile, Sidewalk Prophets.

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

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

Pinterest picture of advent prayer dance pictures.

Dance Ministry – 3 ways to explore worship dance choreography with Philippians 3.14

One thing I love doing in my week now is Prayer Dance Bites. It gives me structure, takes me into Gods word and keeps me moving. Recently we looked at Philippians 3.14 and how this could be a prayer in our life regularly. I want to share with you 3 ways using worship dance choreography that we went deeper into the verse.

“When we’re discouraged, we work against our faith.”

Rick Warren

What I wanted people to grasp during this session was how, God is always there. How we strive to get there, where our focus is and what we expect at the end. Is down to how we choose to press on with our faith.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3.14

Looking at a verse and transposing it into movement can be daunting but here are 3 worship dance choreography tips that can help you.

Start worship dance choreography by creating an action movement

Every verse in the Bible will have some form of descriptive, emotive or factual words in it. Look at the words and pick out those that stand out to you. For this Philippians verse I picked out ‘press on’, ‘prize’ and ‘heavenward’.

Using one of the words consider what that word looks like visually.

What does pressing on look like for you? Do your emotions and habits play a part in how you move forward, break through situations and get closer to God? Think about 3 -4 movements that you could create and connect together to demonstrate ‘pressing on’.

This is really simple way to begin looking at scripture and moving to it. Once you’ve picked your movements, it’s good to go over them several times. They start to sink in, become a habit and a prayer as you search the verse deeper.

Pressing on and forward in movement and worship dance chorgeography.

Think about your eyeline and focus

Philippians 3.14 in the NIV uses the word goal, as what you are pressing on towards. Goal can seem quite a sharp word, alternative words used instead of goal could be invitation or purpose.

Considering other words can help you see the verse from a different perspective and see where the focus is. I would always recommend looking up different versions and seeing what words are used there.

In worship dance choreography to move on from your set of pressing on movements, ponder where your eyes were as you did each of the movements.

We can’t move forward it we’re not looking where we are going, if we don’t acknowledge the pathway that there is in front of us. Add into your movements deliberate choices about your eyeline and what you are focusing on.

Does changing your focus change how your movements feel?

Raised arms and flags, eyes on the Jesus as King.

Imagination in worship dance choreography

A final way to explore worship dance choreography for any verse is using your imagination and seeking Jesus! Choosing to put Jesus within and at the end of your movement prayer. By saying Jesus is within and calling you through your movements, how does that make you feel? Hope? Joy? Excitement? Relief?

If your movement is building up to that how does it change?

With Philippians 3.14, think about these other questions too. What other word could be used instead of prize? If Jesus was at the end of your movements what would you do?

Leaning on each other and encouraging on the journey.

Imagine you in the journey of the verse…

You are pressing through that which gets in your way, breaking down walls. You’re pressing on because you have been invited to receive what God is offering – that is where your focus is. As you receive what God gives you, he is right there with you.

Want to know more about prayer dance bites you can head here. There is also the blog post How can I start to Prayer Dance? Which is a good starting place if you are new moving.

pinterest graphic. eyes on the king during worship dance choreography.

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.

Don’t forget you can also join the mailing list here ?

Closer to God – How can I start to Prayer Dance?

Our heart within UC Grace has always been to encourage, grow and release those it connected with. How it has done that over the past 10 years has evolved alongside the people that have joined our journey. But a feature in many of our weekends and events is prayer dance.

Put simply, prayer dance is just dancing your prayers without the need for words, letting movement tell the story instead. Sometimes this can be influenced with music, other times music isn’t necessary to capture and share what God is speaking through the movement.

This can take you completely out of your comfort zone. But in this post I will walk you through a few ways that you can get into a rhythm of trying this. These suggestions can used for any type of prayer you need to make – personal, corporate, family, friend etc

Prayer dance being explore within a group.

Write it, learn it, dance it

Think about one thing that you would like to pray for currently. Write it down into a simple written prayer. It’s important to use key words that describe what the issue is, any emotions involved, and any encouraging words. Don’t make it complicated.

Next take the time to learn that prayer off by heart, to begin ingraining it so you anticipate what is coming next. When you speak, you naturally emphasise certain words, start to recognise the words that you are emphasising. These are your movement starting points.

Begin to put specific movements to the words that stand out to you in your prayer and practice them one after the other.

You now have a prayer dance! You have the choice to speak the words out loud and move the prayer at the same time or simply move it. Often our prayers are repeated, you now have a prayer dance that you can repeat. Then expand and alter as time moves on.

Let a song be your prayer dance

Words in songs can be very powerful, often you might find yourself either picking up on one or two key phrases or become enveloped in the song completely. Worship songs bring a different layer to our prayers. Many are written as heartfelt prayers, words directly from scriptures or specific words from God. This can be a natural way dance your prayer.

Autumn has set in around me, which meant that this morning was one of those lovely sunny autumn mornings. Brilliant sunshine, bright blue skies with some clouds, and a cooler temperature. A day that prompted recognising the things that we can be thankful for.

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Psalm 95.1

As I sat and listened the song ‘This is the day’ by Pat Barrett, I couldn’t help but want to express the words as a prayer. For me, the song speaks so much movement, that speaking it or singing it, wasn’t changing the atmosphere as much as when I chose to move to it.

Think about some of the songs that you love, what parts of them are your prayer right now. Take some time to respond to those words, and, just like I mentioned above, learn it. Then in those moments when you need to remember that prayer you can simply move it – without the need for music.

Here is how I responded to the song This is the day, as my prayer dance.

Would you like to find out more?

If you’d love to explore more ways of exploring prayer dance, also read this on the blog. Plus, here are a few things that can help you.

40 Day Dance and Movement Devotional

Soak at Home

Prayer Dance Bites

Scripture prompts

Prayer dance pinterest graphic