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

Getting closer to Jesus – Hebrews 12. 1-2 Running the race getting close to Jesus

Getting closer to Jesus is always at the forefront of my mind, scripture allows us to do that very thing. During a recent Prayer Dance Bite session we dug deep into Hebrews 12. 1 – 2 getting closer to Jesus by exploring running the race for Jesus, choosing to step out and move through things that might be slowing us down or we need perseverance for. Often we reach those points where there is something in between where we want to go and the only way to get through is to have grit and resilience.

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ Hebrews 12.1-2

Pausing in worship dance on knees getting closer to Jesus.
Worship dancer lying face down on the ground getting closer to God.

You are surrounded by witnesses

Day to day we find ourselves surrounded by people who we can witness to, who we can share in some form about our faith. That might be a worship dance, it might be prayer, being open to sharing you’ve been to church, telling someone that you are praying for them. Opportunities are all around us, but it can be hard to step up and step out. Is there one person or situation you won’t/ can’t/ shy away from to share your faith?

Write it down, make a note. God’s desire is for us to share our joy, our joy in choosing him and the fun and laughter that brings, even if there are times when life is tough and you don’t like what’s been put before you, there is always a way of getting closer to Jesus.

Are you ready to run? What do you need to run well?

This question prompted lots of chuckles during the prayer dance bite session, with some ladies explaining how running was not for them. But what did come out of our discussion was that if you are runner, it’s all about the shoes and the place your head is in. To make the running more comfortable a solid shoe with ‘bounce’ will help cushion and protect your knees as you move. In our faith we can lean into Gods word, putting on the armour of God – shoes fitted ready with the gospel of peace – so we can be equipped to move forward (or run!).

In any race there is always a finish a line, or a point which you are striving for. As Christians our eyes are fixed on Jesus to help us run the race, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t struggle with all the bits in between! What do you need perseverance for at the moment? What might you need to push through and see that you are getting closer to Jesus? Write it down.

Worship dancers jumping across the space, or resting and receiving getting closer to God.

Getting closer to Jesus by running your race

As movers and dancers we deepen our faith in a visual way. Here is a visual way I encouraged the Prayer Dance Bite participants to challenge themselves to persevere and move forward with their race.

  • Visually mark points A and B in your mind or on the floor – a space that you need to move from one place to another.
  • The space between the two points is the thing that you want to persevere through
  • Close your eyes
  • How do you get ready to move? How can you cross the space? Begin exploring.
  • Waiting at the other side is Jesus. Cheering you on, His eyes are on you, He has faith in you, and He knows that you can do it. Fix your eyes on that and see how you cross the space.

All aspects of life take perseverance at some point, we will always feel our emotions take over and lead but, but pausing to see that Jesus is cheering you on through whatever it is makes us stronger and push us to keep going, seeking, resulting in us continually getting closer to Jesus.

New people are always welcome in our Prayer Dance Bite sessions. You can find out more about them here.

Jesus for Kids – Priniths excitement at stepping out to teach children Worship Dance.

In 2019 Prinith joined a UC Grace training day that focused on teaching children dance and movement with your faith. It provided tools and tricks to enable an encounter of Jesus for kids using worship dance and movement as the stimulus. I caught up with Prinith to find out the impact that this training day had on her teaching children and engaging them in worship dance and movement.

One Big Rainbow feather fun – UC Grace

Q – Why was it important to develop your skills in teaching children dance and faith?

“I am a Tots Helper at my church, which is great because it means there is no pressure to be in charge, but I am allowed to lead little bits as I wish. I’m also really encouraged to dance at my church. One of my friend’s kids, before she knew my name, knew me as the ‘dancey lady’. Therefore, you have an impact by modelling it and I wanted to be able to equip our kids because dance is a natural way for them to engage in worship.”

“I’ve done Movement in Worship’s training the trainers course and within the Springs Dance Company apprenticeship there was a teaching module. But to adapt that for children, was interesting and what I really wanted to learn through attending the Jesus for Kids – teaching dance and movement training day.”

Q – What did you learn through attending the Jesus for Kids – Teaching Dance and Movement training day?

“Just how to create activities so they would learn through having fun. But also thinking about things, like how can a warm up lead me to the end point. The big thing that I learnt was the idea of exploration, like ‘here you go, let’s do this, let’s go through this’, whichever age you do it with, it will work for. They explore. But then you get to the end goal, having done all this exploration. That’s the key learning that I’ve taken from UC Grace – let’s explore this, let’s play and then we’ll get to the end point eventually.”

“I found it really useful on the training day, that we actually put into practice what we were learning and started using it straight away. For example we had a theme and we worked in pairs, came up with an idea and then delivered it.”            

Family Advent Fun – be a role model. UC Grace
One Big Rainbow exploration time (under 5s)

Q – How have you put into practise what you have learnt since then?

“I remember talking to my CDFB regional coordinator and she really encouraged me to put it into practise as soon as possible, which was a really helpful tip. If you do Anna’s workshop, you need to put it into practise as soon as possible, to cement what you’ve learnt and keep it fresh.”

“I led our tots session on the parable of the lost coin, it was great fun because we ‘sparkled and shone’, we ‘whistled while we worked’, and we hunted for it to James Bond music, which the adults loved music wise but went over the heads of the tots! What was also really good was, we have a little boy with Downs Syndrome, who decided that the craft activity (which was rubbing coins), was not for him. Instead he played ‘lets hide the coin, lets find the coin’ under the sofa. Which just proved that teaching children through movement taught them the story. He knew that we were looking for the lost coin.”

Q – What impact has it had on the children in your church?

“My church is a multi-site church, so there are children that don’t go to the same site as me, but they still seek me out to dance when we have our meeting together. There was one little boy last autumn that sought me out, and wanted to dance in the worship with me, because he’s known me and he’s seen me teach them, he’s seen me model it. He’d watched too much strictly, there were all kinds of moves, including slides across the floor! Then more recently, there was girl that was watching me dance. I had taught her movement at the church weekend away,but didn’t think she’d taken anything in, but she came and followed all my dance moves perfectly and danced with me, it was amazing, I have a huge soft spot for that little girl now!”

Drama, Dance and Craft. UC Grace

Q – What is one golden nugget that you go back to every time?

“Exploration!”

“Teaching children is probably the most exciting workshop I have ever done, and I’d encourage anyone who wants to grow in their teaching skills to seek training from UC Grace.”

Prinith de Alwis Jayasinghe leads the Movement in Worship Birmingham Base and goes to Churchcentral West in Birmingham.

Moving Rainbows session with youth helper

How can I find out more about Jesus for kids – Teaching dance and movement?

There are several options to learn more about sharing your faith using dance and movement with children. We regular run in person training days – full details available here on the website.

By the end of the 2020 there will also be the chance to do an online course. Additionally a comprehensive written manual is due for release in 2021. If you wish to be the first to hear when our online course launches, the written manual is available, as well as other events in our Jesus for Kids training then head here to let me know your details.

Creative activities painting
Creative Prayer and craft activity time at Little Rainbows – under 5s.

Worship Flags – 3 Steps to Guide You

Worship flags resound with people in different ways, everyone will have different preferences, whether you are a seasoned worship dancer with flags, or someone new exploring and curious to see what it’s all about.

During this blog I want to share just 3 steps that can help guide you when using worship flags. If you want to find out more detail about why flags, dance and worship go together and what the Bible says about it, check out Flags and Banners – What does the Bible say, for more info.

UC Grace Summer Tour - St Neots. Nakai flagging

Make and Model

There are many different styles of worship flags and you can get very technical with it. But let’s look at it simply.

MAKE

The shape and weight of fabric will create a different ebb and flow when you dance with it. The type of stick that you use also affects this.

For example, I teach with rod dowelling sticks, and rectangular size metallic lame of varying sizes. I use this style as it’s the easiest to teach beginners with and offers a ‘safe’ start which every participant can connect with. It also enables further skills to develop and be practiced as your knowledge of dance and movement in worship grows.

However, wing (or rounded edge flags) which tend to semi circular in size and often fitted with some form of flexi rod poles, are lighter in weight, but need more co-ordination and skill to master movement in continuous flow due to their size and shape.

The type of fabrics used for flags varies, but is often one of the following – metallic lame, silk or organza. Each fabric has a different weight and therefore the effect created with movement alters.

Sue with Fan Veils at Going Deeper 2019

MODEL

Model refers to the “look”. Different colours can create different meanings. When you choose to step up and dance with worship flags you will be drawn to a colour, colour combination or picture.

There are generalised meanings attached to colours (see below). But remember, God speaks to us all individually and therefore the reason you are drawn to a specific colour might be different to someone else.

Worship flags are spectacular is size, shape and colour. What would be your ‘ideal’ size and shape?

Holy Spirit fire Flag

Move with your WHOLE body

Your body is your vessel, you know its limitations and the movements it loves to do the most. When a worship flag is picked up generally one of two things happen.

The first being you stand still on the spot and wave, creating patterns in front of you and above you with your arms and the flags, perhaps with a little ‘bop’.

The second being, you ‘move’ across the space as you would normally without the flag.

Neither option is wrong, thats the beauty of how we come before God. Individually made, created for a purpose, letting God lead our hearts.

Dancing Free 2020 - flag workshop

For you created my in most being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139.13

But my encouragement to you would be to move with your WHOLE body. Look at your worship flag as an extension of your arm. This is a hard concept to grasp initially as it can seem very awkward to do.

When I first teach newbies to flag the main thing that I want them to recognise is that their body already knows movement, the flag is an extra layer to share more about God and go deeper into worship. As your body already knows movement, let it lead you. Let it find the rhythm, hear the lyrics and see what others do.

Pause with your worship flag

Pause, to breathe, to acknowledge the reason why you are stepping out with a worship flag, to ask God to lead you with your movements. Pausing is good, whether, before or during movement.

It allows you to ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in your conversation with God, to pray a blessing on others through the movement that you share and to enter into the time of worship with your whole heart and not just a portion of it.

If you would like to explore more ways of using worship flags then reading Adapting Choreography to flags in worship dance, maybe useful for you.

Drone footage from UC Grace Summer Tour 2020: St Neots

If you’ve not joined the UC Grace journey yet, we would love to have you join. There is lots happening even through this time of change we have experienced. Get in touch for more info, or look on the website.

Holding a flag high. An image to use for pinterest.

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

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

Do you know your purpose or call?

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

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

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

What do you do when you know your purpose?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does UC Grace display its colours?

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

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

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

What do we do?

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

Where do we do it?

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

Who can access us?

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

What is my motivation?

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

10 Years Growing and Releasing Dancers

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you’ve not joined the UC Grace journey yet, we would love to have you join. There is lots happening even through this time of change we have experienced. Get in touch for more info, or look on the website.

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