DANCE IN WORSHIP
DANCE IN WORSHIP
The nation of Israel has used dance as a form of worship throughout their history. Several places within the Bible make reference to the use of dance as a form of worship.
Many Christians are opposed to dance because of what the world has done with it. However, just because Satan has perverted something, doesn’t mean that we as Christians should stop using it for God’s glory. The Bible says: “...all things were created by him, and for him” (Col 1:16).
The earliest mention of dance as a form of worship in scripture is in the book of Exodus, when the nation of Israel had just crossed the Red Sea. It says:
It is interesting that Miriam (the sister of Moses and Aaron) was called a prophetess, yet nowhere in scripture does it record a single prophecy that she brought fourth. However, praise dancing was taught in the school of the prophets. Apparently, the nation of Israel viewed dance as a prophetic gifting, and treated it as such.
One of the things that King David is known for in the Bible is his praise and worship. Much of the book of Psalms (songs of praises) was written by him, and the Davidic style of worship has been practiced in Israel for many years, even unto today. Today, the resurgence of dance, and other forms of the arts being used in worship in Christian churches is referred to as the reinstatement of Davidic worship. King David himself danced before the Lord, when he brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.
David also refers to dance as a form of worship in some of the Psalms he wrote. For example:
Okay, you might say, but this is all in the Old Testament, not the New Testament. Well, let’s stop just a moment and think about that. Jesus, and Paul both said that in numerous places that they taught from the scriptures. What was that? It couldn’t have been the New Testament, because that hadn’t been written. No, in fact they were referring to the Old Testament, specifically the books of the Law.
The New Testament church gained most of its style of worship from the Jews. Since the Jewish believers were used to dance as a form of worship, they naturally taught it to the gentiles. Therefore, the early Christians understood dance as a normal part of worship. In fact, one of the original deacons, elected in the sixth chapter of Acts was Prochorus. If you dig into his name, it means “the leader of the circle dance.” This implies rather strongly that the early church accepted dance as a part of worship.
Dance has existed to some degree all through church history. Just to show one example, let’s look at what could be considered one of the most structured, legalistic Christian denominations ever. Who is this? The Shakers. They were a offshoot of the Quakers in the early years of our country. The Shakers (or Shaking Quakers) lived in their own communities, remained celibate, denied themselves of physical pleasures, and danced before the Lord with all their might!
There is something about dance that will take any worship service into a higher level than it can otherwise reach. One person truly dancing before the Lord (not before man) can take the entire congregation farther into His throne room, than they would otherwise have gone.
WHO CAN DANCE
Often, we find that praise dancers are women who have been abused, raped, or hurt sometime in their past. It isn’t the people who have it all together that God uses, it is the ones who make themselves available to Him.
The only true requirement to be a praise dancer is a willingness to be empty of self, so that you can become full of Him. Ability, training, talent, or gracefulness aren’t requirements, just a heart that truly wants to worship the Lord. In fact, training, talent, and ability can get in the way, because they can be the tools that Satan uses to bring pride into our dance, instead of a heart of worship.
That doesn’t mean that training isn’t helpful though. Just like singing, or playing an instrument in worship, it is necessary to learn it. When you sing, you are using the vocabulary of the language, and the notes to express your worship. If you play an instrument, you need to learn a vocabulary of notes for each instrument you learn to play. Otherwise, you won’t sound a clear note.
To praise the Lord in dance, you should learn the vocabulary of movement. This will give you the necessary “words” to use in expressing your love to Jesus.
Many people say that you shouldn’t have to learn to dance, only be led by the Spirit. This is okay for as far as it goes. However, you learned English before singing praises, and you learned to play an instrument before they let you in the worship team, so it is reasonable to learn to dance.
DANCE AS WARFARE
The vast majority of the people you see dancing before the Lord today are women. Men are less comfortable expressing themselves in this manner. However, there is something that happens in the Spirit when one man dances, that cannot happen when a whole troop of women dance.
God has given strength, authority, and warfare to men. It is part of His plan, and is built into the nature of man. Women, no matter what their personality, or spiritual maturity is cannot bring the same strength into something that a man does. If you are dancing for warfare, men are an essential ingredient.
If you are dancing for warfare, flags, banners, and streamers are an essential ingredient. These items symbolize the sword of the spirit, and the military banners that went before the armies of Israel when they went to war.
CHILDREN IN DANCE
Dance is a great way to get children involved in worship. Instead of just sitting, and squirming, this gives them a way of expressing love to God, and using their nervous energy. However, I must caution you that children, being children, will have a tendency to play, instead of worship. They may also have a tendency to show off, and look to see who is watching them.
It is imperative that parents explain the role of dance to their children before allowing them to dance during worship. Periodic reminders of why we dance are also necessary. This will prevent the children from looking at it as only an opportunity to play, and help them to be focused on the Lord.
Don’t be discouraged if the children get distracted during worship, and slip from praising into playing. They, just like their parents, need to learn how to truly praise and worship God. Part of the learning process is making mistakes. Just correct them, and go on.
Dance during a worship service must be done only to worship the Lord. If we are trying to get attention, or seem more spiritual by dancing, then we are taking glory from God, instead of giving glory to God. A child who is trying to get attention by dancing is operating in the flesh, and should be taken aside for instruction and correction.
It is easier for children to praise in dance if they use one of the praise objects shown in this booklet. Of those shown, the finger rings are the easiest to use, after that, the hoops, and then the streamers are most difficult. We recommend starting children off with the simplest, and as they improve, allow them to graduate to more complicated praise devices.
Although there is a certain amount of leading of the Spirit that is required, practice is also helpful. Allowing a child to practice with praise music at home is extremely helpful.
WHEN TO DANCE
Dance, just like anything else done in a worship service, must be led by the Holy Spirit. A tremendously annointed and talented dancer, steping out without the leading of the Holy Spirit can take a service downhill, instead of into the glory of God.
When God directs, He does it in detail. Ask Him to show you how to dance and allow Him to teach you the movements to make. If God does it, anything that you do will fit the music, the tone of the meeting, and the flow of what the Holy Spirit is working to accomplish in that srevice.
Our daughter, when she was 3½ years old was taught by the Holy Spirit in this way. When we asked her, she said that Jesus had been dancing with her, and showing her how to dance.
We usually make our praise and worship items using the tabernacle colors. These colors have certain significance, and were established in the wilderness tabernacle to show God’s people different things about Him, and His character.
Combinations of colors also work well, such as gold and blue, symbolizing the Royal Deity. Or, red and white can symbolize our cleansing by the blood of the Savior.
Another color combination that isn’t exactly considered tabernacle colors is red, orange, and yellow. When in motion, these colors together can look like fire, symbolizing the fire of the Holy Spirit which comes to purify us.
|Making & Using Dance Streamers|
|Making & Using Dance Hoops & Finger Rings|
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Copyright © 1998 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life All rights reserved.