Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lessons for a Decade

I decided to embrace the ministry of movement 10 years ago. At that time in 1999, I was not sure of all of the "rules and regulations" of dance ministry, but felt an intense desire to move in Him. What is amazing is that I have always been involved in the Worship Arts, and served in church as a choir director, sang on the praise team, directed the drama department, and served as dance ministry leader. Sometimes, I tried to do all these things at once! Those were the days...

As I continued in dance ministry, more doors opened up for me in the area of teaching. I am blessed to travel and teach, and sometimes do so at my own expense. It's not about the money, but the assignment. What I have learned over the past 10 years is that there are unique challenges and benefits to the multiple facets of movement ministry. Not every movement minister is a liturgical dancer. Mime ministers and contemporary movement artists abound and have another unique set of obstacles and blessings.

Not only have I been fortunate to experience several scenarios in the dance ministry, I have also been transformed from being a praise dancer-to a worship dancer-to a prophetic dancer: All to the glory of God! I pray that these tips over the past few years will bless you as much as they have helped me...

I did not exactly start out with the knowledge that I would become a movement minister. At the age of 15, I wrote a production for my church entitled, "The Ultimate Sacrifice." At the time I was assistant director of the choir and singing on the praise team. There were a few ladies and girls at our church who danced from time to time, so I incorporated a praise dance scene into the production.

Several years later, another church asked me to assist with the drama department for Resurrection Sunday. I again took the liberty to incorporate praise dance into the production, but this time I laced up my dancing shoes and gave it a try. I called for dancers, and seven young ladies stepped up to the challenge. We rehearsed in my apartment (yes!) and during the evening service, we joyfully danced to Tri-City Singers "When Sunday Comes." From that moment, I knew that I wanted to praise dance on a regular basis.

I asked the same girls if they wanted to continue praise dancing. Of the seven, only two of us decided to continue. As I was standing in the hallway of my apartment, the word "Envision" dropped into my spirit. I immediately called my remaining partner, and thus my official journey of dance ministry began.

My partner and I not only shared a passion, we shared a similar appearance. The novelty of our ministry was that we looked so much alike that no one could focus on just one of us. The challenge was that we were not looked at as individuals outside of the ministry.

Duets can also be a husband and wife team, relatives, or great friends. Dancing as a duet often requires closeness and fellowship beyond dance rehearsals. Duets should watch out for divisive people who come to separate the ministry. On the other hand, when the season for a particular type of ministry has ended, we must recognize it and move forward according to the will of God.

Tips for Duets:
-Pray together and study the Bible
-Make sure that you are in agreement with your partner
-Strive to not let one "outshine" the other. You must both be anointed!
-Ensure that song selections work for fewer numbers of people
-Avoid competing with each other

Amos 3:3
Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

After the duet ministry came to a close, I obeyed the Lord's leading and began to dance solo. At first, I was not sure that I could do it after having been a duet for 4 years. The lessons that I learned were valuable.

The most challenging aspect of the solo is to develop a story or message with only one person. Divine creativity is needed indeed! As a group/duo, I was able to "see" the choreography on someone else to know what worked or not. As a soloist, my comfort zone was gone and I had to completely rely on the Lord for confirmation.

When dancing alone, it is important to have a good support system. For females, venturing out alone may take some extra "forward-thinking" in order to stay focused and safe! Often, I would take a trusted, praying friend along with me when I went out to minister. If a friend was not available, I would usually make sure that I knew someone at the location that could assist me when needed.

One of the pitfalls of soloists is maintaining a dedicated rehearsal time. It is easy to put things off until later... tomorrow... a few days from now... and then "Oh, no! I have to dance tomorrow!" Staying faithful pays off in the end. Although no one may know you are "winging it," the experienced dancer or discerning person will be able to pick up on it.

Tips for Soloists:
-Don't always rely on a formula (flags, props, etc.) for a quick fix
-Make sure that someone knows where you are ministering, and take a partner if possible
-Avoid waiting until the last minute to put pieces together
-Never assume anything, ask questions until you have the answers you need

Isaiah 6:8
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

This applies to groups of 3 or more people that are not necessarily from the same church. This can be even more challenging for groups with both males and females. Getting an understanding early will help maintain unity.

It is a good idea to make sure that everyone agrees that Jesus is Lord. Another item to consider is dressing room space. When attending concerts and larger events, it may be a challenge to get dressed and remain modest when in mixed company. When journeying over distances, trying to carpool or caravan may help build unity and assist with preparation before arriving to the location. When this is not possible, establishing a prayer focus and listening to the music to be ministered may keep everyone on one accord.

Tips for Groups:
-Determine beforehand what the plan of action will be for attire
-Plan your travel route for safety and on-time group arrival
-Keep the lines of communication open
-Make sure to have a "point person" or leader for music and business matters

Acts 2:46
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart

Yes, church protocol applies here! As a church dance group, there may be more restrictions as to what is or is not permissable. Ministering before the congregation as a church dance ministry means that the members or group should come in line with the teaching of the church. We must also consider to whom we are ministering. For instance, if the congregation is mostly made up of senior citizens, it may not be a good idea to dance in jeans and t-shirts to a heavy beat-laden song.

The criteria for joining a church dance ministry may include becoming a member, attending Bible study, being a tither or giver, etc. Some churches have an open door policy, while others have auditions. Usually a dance ministry leader organizes the ministry, but sometimes a parent or musician will provide oversight.

Tips for Church Ministries:
-Align with the vision and message of your local congregation
-Obtain permission before attending outside engagements on behalf of the church
-Ask the Pastor what his or her vision is for the church dance ministry
-Encourage every member to have a personal relationship with the Lord

Acts 9:31
[The Church Prospers] Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

Similar to the group model, this type of ministry usually has several participants. A community dance ministry may often dance "outside of the four walls" for outreach events and concerts. These dancers usually belong to several different churches. The rehearsal location may be a church, dance studio, community center, or even a garage!

The communty dance ministry is not a replacement for the church dance ministry. Although some church situations may prevent dancers from participating, we must make sure that rebellious thinking is not the reason for linking with the community. There is a need to ask some questions to determine what the motives of the dancers are. This is not to say that all community dancers must participate in the church dance ministry (if they have one), but is a way to ensure that all hearts and minds are in the right place.

Tips for Community Ministries:
-Define the vision of the ministry that aligns with God's Word
-Establish general criteria for community participation
-Select a name that is appropriate to the vision and types of people represented
-Keep members informed through clear comunication, newsletters, emails, phone calls, etc.

Psalm 102:21-22
To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem, when the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.

This person may not necessarily be a dancer, but may serve as a Minister of Music or Worship Arts Director at church. At times, this can even be the Pastor. The dance ministry leader usually reports to this person and obtains approval to minister both inside and outside of the church.

It is important that the person who oversees the dancers has an understanding of the ministry. Too often, the dance ministry is neglected or has unrealistic expectations placed upon them when the overseer is unsympathetic concerning dance. Often, this person has an understanding of worship in general, but there is a need to be aware of how dance fits into the congregational model. A controlling personality may hinder the progress of those under this type of leadership, so much prayer is needed to lead without dictating.

Tips for Dance Ministry Overeers:
-Become educated in the ministry of movement through personal Bible study and books
-Select a leader that is qualified to run the dance ministry (this may not necessarily be the "best" dancer on the team)
-Assist in guiding the ministry to align with church beliefs and attire protocol
-Give the ministry space to be "imperfect" while encouraging excellence and growth

Acts 20:28
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

In the ministry of movement, I have served in all of the above positions. I praise the Lord for the privilege of dancing before Him. Sometimes this journey has included pain, loss, sadness, grief, and agony; however, the joy inexpressible, miraculous moments, liberty, deliverance, and edification it has brought to the church far exceeds the struggle. As the Lord continues to move me forward in ministry, I understand that my tenure in the ministry of movement may be seasonal. In the meantime, I will continue to dance before the Lord with all my might!

Psalm 149:3
Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.

Looking forward to another decade in His service,
Rekesha Pittman

(All Scriptures taken from the New King James Bible Version)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Cite

It's a good practice to give credit where it is due. It is also helpful to know the Word of God concerning the pieces that we minister and being able to apply truth accurately. Neglecting to take the time to gather information can make us look ignorant, or in the most extreme sense, land us in trouble (with others or even the courts!)

The Bible
There are still too many praise dancers and movement ministers who do not have a basic understanding of the Scriptures concerning dance, and are even less studious concerning the Word of God in general. In my experience, reading the Bible on a regular basis allows the Word to come alive during rehearsals and ministry opportunities. What's on the inside comes out! It's amazing to me how a dance move can become "alive" to a group when Biblical application is clear. Choreography itself may not be spiritual, but when we make the connection through the Word, people are able to witness a mighty move of the Spirit.

We should take the time to make sure that every song we minister "rightly divides the word of truth" by comparing it with Scripture. When we study the Bible regularly, we do not have to rely on internet search engines to produce the Scripture references for us! We will instead know which words we are looking for to find the correct application of Scripture.

Not only should we be knowledgeable, we should make sure that each dancer is able to articulate meaning for themselves. Often, dance ministry leaders spend time researching and teaching, but may not empower other dance team members to know the Word personally. It is indeed awesome to witness an entire dance ministry operating in the power of the Spirit and understanding of the Word, instead of focusing on the few in ministry who "shine."

Job 22:22
Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart.

Psalm 119:11
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Songs and Artists
Because many are ministered to through the songs we use, it is important to be able to share with them the name of the artist or group, title of the song, and the album that the song can be found on, if possible. Why does this matter? Giving away burned copies of the CD single only helps one person (and may hurt the proceeds of the artist). Many times I have been able to share this information and was later informed by the same people that they purchased the CD and were blessed by it. Obtaining the CD for themselves allowed the ministry to continue beyond the initial minutes of the piece!

Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Kudos and Credits
The Lord is the Ultimate Movement Creator. He imparts instructions through vessels that include us. Although we do not serve for accolades, it is important to thank people and appreciate them for their service unto others.

If we use choreography from someone else, we should obtain permission first. If we have been inspired by someone else, we should say so. When we are blessed by teaching that we received from a conference or workshop, we should be mindful to correctly quote and refer to others whose insight we may use to share with others.

Songwriters must properly obtain permission when using samples or words from other artists. Writing requires that we properly cite the sources we may have used. Even photographers are credited with the images they capture in the media. Why is this important? It limits the offense that can take place between us, keeps us accountable, and hinders us from being deceptive in any way. Let's keep our hands clean!

Proverbs 3:27
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.

Romans 13:7
Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

All Scripture references from the King James Bible Version.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

No Means Yes and Yes Means No

Sometimes along our ministry journey, we have to make decisions that will determine promotion, no motion, or moving in reverse. There are many who seek to travel the world, dance on national platforms and be celebrated without making the choice to follow God wholeheartedly. The truth of the matter is, there are some things we must say "No" to in order to say "Yes" to God... and sometimes our "Yes" to God means that we have to say "No" to our own desires.

Are we willing to compromise in order to gain a platform?

Are we using others as a means to an end to make connections that we believe will get us further in ministry?

Do we seek out relationships with "powerful" dance ministers in order to get ministry invitations and special favor?

Are we joining large churches with large dance ministries in order to be seen on television or by thousands?

Have we remained friends or associates with people or joined organizations just because we want to be invited back to an event at which we once had the opportunity to minister?

It is important to let God have His perfect way! How many of us will admit that we have desired good things in our hearts that we consider "Kingdom" but never took the time to see if it was His will or assignment specifically for us? Many plan ministry conferences, concerts, and gatherings with good intentions that may not have been ordered by Him. This is not determined by perceived failure or success from the outside eye. The Holy Spirit is a Revealer and we must allow Him to show us Truth.

On the other hand, how many of us are saying "Yes" to opportunities just because they sound good? Have we gotten excited about dancing at a large church or teaching at a popular conference because of the potential exposure gained? (I confess that I have done both in the past and have been greatly disappointed). Through it all, I have learned to desire what the Lord has appointed for me. Some of those assignments are large, and some seemingly small, but it is obedience that makes the difference.

Let's take inventory of all of the current assignments and calendar items that are ahead of us. Have we said "yes" to something when we should have declined? Did we say "no" to an opportunity because we have been overwhelmed by some of the tasks we should have let go of long ago? It's time to do the will of the Father and agree with His decree. Saying "No" to sin and disobedience at all costs means saying "Yes" to God. Submitting a "Yes" to His will means saying "No" to anything that will hinder us from pressing toward the mark.

Responding correctly will save us lots of pain and heartache in ministry and life. We must not let our mouths get us into trouble. We must mean what we say and say what we mean- but we should first check with the Lord! Our "Yes" to Him is not determined by what we say with our lips, but by what we obey in response to His word concerning our lives.

(New King James Bible Version)

Matthew 5:37
But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

2 Corinthians 1:17
Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No?

2 Corinthians 1:18
But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.

2 Corinthians 1:19
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Teacher's Edition

As I was driving in my car today, the words "Teacher's Edition" dropped into my spirit. Do you remember having had a chance to glance at the Teacher's Edition of a textbook in school? What was wonderful about the Teacher's Edition is that not only did it have the information given to the students, it contained the answers to questions asked!

What a challenge it is today to be a dance ministry leader! When someone accepts the challenge to lead, it is pertinent that we also have access to the right information and the answers needed to efficiently teach people. How many dance ministries are suffering today at the hands of ill-equipped leaders? More than we'd like to admit...

If given the opportunity to serve, leaders must not rely on someone else to provide the roadmap we need. We must each seek to know how to lead the ministry according to the Word. It is also practical to obtain experienced wisdom, but we must remember that what may work for one ministry may not exactly fit our circumstances.

In order to assemble the "Teacher's Edition" for dance ministers, we must include the following contents:

1) Charting the Course: Instructions

Provide clarity to your dance ministry team by providing clear communication (calendars, checklists, contact information). This can be done via email, through text messages, on paper, through online notification systems, or through all of the above. As it is often said, "Sharing is caring."

Is your ministry aware of requirements and upcoming dates far enough in advance to plan properly?

Are there general guidelines regarding ministry qualifications, expectations, appearance standards, conduct, garment requirements, etc?

Having a roadmap in place will minimize confusion, but not having one will guarantee roadblocks!

2) Lesson Plan: Information for the Student

Develop lesson plans to guide the ministry toward progress. For example, structured team studies will help the ministry be on one accord when studying the Biblical foundations of movement as a ministry (book readings, specialized workshops, directed group studies, research topics, etc).

Draft a plan to complete choreography before deadlines to assist us in knowing if we are using our time effectively or need to make adjustments (Are we projecting accurate completion times? Are we missing scheduled ministry engagements because we did not have time to complete the piece? Have we mastered the necessary technique needed to hasten the choreographic process?).

Forecast activities for the year and then establish regular checkpoints to see if adjustments need to be made (technique application, planned conference attendance, membership growth, etc).

3) Questions and Answers
Leaders should be more knowledgeable than the people we lead in our area of expertise. When a dance ministry leader has not studied or properly applied themselves to excellence, it will reflect on the ministry. Although the leader may not develop all of the choreography and select all of the garments, he or she should not be ignorant concerning these areas.

Pleading ignorance does not work for leaders! Each leader should make it a priority to become the "resident expert" and be able to provide accurate information to the team. (How embarrassing is it when dance ministry leaders are not able to provide Biblical references to dance beyond David? We've got to do better!)

4) Staff Development: Publisher's Notes
The Bible reminds us to know those that labor among us. Not only should we study dance ministry from a Biblical perspective, researching the progress being made by others today will help us to avoid "reinventing the wheel." Learning about other dance ministry leaders can both inspire us as well as teach us valuable lessons in what not to do.

In addition, we should take steps to get to know those we minister with, so that we may know how to pray and provide guidance unique to the people we lead. Exercising discernment will reveal to us if a situation is a behavioral problem or a spiritual one...

5) Giving Honor: Acknowledgments
It does not cost us much to be appreciative. Too many times, those who labor in ministry are encouraged to do a thankless job. Let not that be said of us. Dancers need to know that leaders are servants too! Taking the time to announce praise reports, birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones will make people feel appreciated and unified.

Beyond the movement ministry, we must show gratitide to our Pastors, supporting ministries, families, mentors, and other people who make what we do possible. In the forefront of all of this, we must not fail to give thanks to the LORD for making what we do possible!

Not only should we seek to be disciples, but we should be able to impart in a way that brings glory to God. We cannot take the mandate to teach lightly-- We MUST practice what we preach! Teaching others in the arts can be a challenge, but one that we can successfully navigate if we have the right reference guide: The BIBLE!

(New King James Bible Version)

Luke 2:46-47
Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.

Romans 2:21
You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?

Hebrews 5:12
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

James 3:1
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Critical Condition

The dance ministry is in need of emergency assistance! The call to repentance is now! Movement ministers that once operated in liberty are now in bondage at the hands of our own. For many, the limits that we once faced were attributed to a church culture that did not understand the arts as having a place in the traditional setting. As the doors have opened to the creative arts, we are now faced with oppression within our own ranks.

Speculation, accusation, disenfranchisement, separation, offense, pride, self-promotion, envy, bitterness, hatred, unforgiveness, misunderstanding, ignorance, and greed have magnified in the worship arts over the last few years. This has not been limited to the local dance ministries, but has risen through the ranks on a national and international level. When will we turn from our ways and be healed, dance ministers?

If we are honest with ourselves, we know that there are some things that the Holy Spirit has brought to our attention that needs to be corrected. Whether we receive a word in our spirits, through a prophet, or through another person, we have been warned that it is time for us to address our behavior. We cannot walk in self-righteousness and expect goodness in return. Our disobedience regarding walking in love will result in our own demise.

For my critics, I praise God. Why? Either I will have to face the truth or thank God for reminding me to stay on my face before Him. Instead of getting defensive, I pray and ask the Lord to reveal to me if any of it is true. If it is, I then ask for Him to deliver me from anything in me that is not reflective of Him. (I am still a work in progress!) If it is not true, I know that His word concerning me will prevail and that my accusers will have to deal with their own souls. We sink into danger when we automatically perceive every criticism as an attack from the enemy. The Lord chastens those He loves, according to the Word (Hebrews 12:6).

If we consider others more than ourselves, our actions will continue to line up with the Word of God. When we become the center of attraction in our dance ministries, we can expect division to multiply. My heart aches at the pains that the dance ministries are facing in this hour. I can testify that I have experienced hurt and disappointment at the hands of others in this ministry, but continue to pray that the Repairer of the Breach restores that which has been damaged. I cannot allow myself to be guilty of the same abuses as an excuse for bad behavior.

Is there anything that we know we need to repent for concerning our behavior towards others in the dance ministry?

Have we cut off relationships with other dancers because of separation from other leaders and organizations?

Are we choosing sides in arguments based on likes/dislikes instead of praying?

Have our words through social networking sites, blogs, newsletters, and personal appearances caused irreparable harm?

Is there someone we need to reach out to and ask for forgiveness, even if we think that it will not be received?

Let us have clean hands and pure hearts! Let us return to a place where we only minister and do all to the glory of God! Lord have mercy on us, and revive us again!

(New King James Version)

Ecclesiastes 12:14
For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Romans 12:17
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.

Romans 13:4
For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.

1 Peter 3:15-17
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

2 Corinthians 6:3
We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sign On the Dotted Line?

This post originally appeared as my response to a blog topic posted by my friend Lakita Humber (Paneh Praise Dance & Mime Ministry) as part of Dance Ministry Ethics week:

TOPIC: Contracted Ministry

Here is the original link if you want to check out the original post and several responses:

I have several areas that I would like to address, according to the Word of God:

1- In all your getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7).

Why a “contract?” Isn’t the purpose of a contract to have legal recourse?

Contract: In law, a contract is a binding legal agreement that is enforceable in a court of law. That is to say, a contract is an exchange of promises for the breach of which the law will provide a remedy. (Source: Wikipedia)

We understand the importance of having an agreement (understanding) in writing, but formulating a contract can become an area of contention. We may want to justify dance ministry as our occupation, but at this point, we need to determine if preaching and dancing the Gospel is a “job” to us or a commission from the Lord.

Proverbs 25:8
Do not go hastily to court; For what will you do in the end, When your neighbor has put you to shame?

James 2:6
But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?

Matthew 5:40
If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.

1 Corinthians 6:1
[Do Not Sue the Brethren] Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?

***Personally, I receive a letter of invitation to know what to expect. Usually, these items are provided, but if not, I move on and it is forgiven; however, I may hesitate to deal with that ministry in the future.

2- What exactly are we charging for?

Are we charging for the Gospel? Are we charging for our time? Are we charging for our experience? We should be led by the Word and by the Lord. Let’s look at Paul’s take on this:

1 Corinthians 9:18
What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.

2 Corinthians 11:7

Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?

What context are we being asked to come in? Could Paul have charged? Certainly, but to keep himself pure (cannot serve God and mammon), he opted not to. How many of us have seen ministries corrupted by the love of money?

I too travel frequently and am blessed to receive accommodations, travel and love offerings. I am also blessed when I do not receive travel, lodging, or finances. The reward will be awaiting me in eternity. I am not suffering lack and rejoice in the many testimonies of the people who the Lord sends me to serve.

I believe that the difference is being aware of the circumstances up front. I personally do not ever want money to be a factor in my acceptance of an assignment. There are conferences that I have attended in which I have paid for the entire trip and received no money. Personally, the Lord has not instructed me to charge for ministry, but gave me a way to return with additional income through a vendor table for dance ministry goods. If I feel that a conference host is taking advantage of instructors, it is my choice whether or not I will continue to participate.


Some may say, “This is what I do full time.”

***Food for thought: If we are not making enough money doing ministry, then should we look for a job (or business) to support our living expenses?

We should all be in full-time ministry as a life calling. Agreed, if we labor in the Gospel, we should live from it. The issue is that many of us have not reached the point where we are solely laboring in the Word to meet our financial needs. (Yes, I do “this” full-time, but the Lord opened the door for me to be able to do this exclusively— in His timing).

***More Food for Thought: Are we expecting our needs to be met or our wants too?

For example, I am blessed to run a praise dance company and I pay my technique instructor to show up on time twice per week and teach a progressive modern dance curriculum. She is not paid to show up and dance with us at ministry outings. She is not paid to attend Word classes. I am asking her to dedicate her time on a regular basis and be available to cover for me when I am out of town. But guess what the blessing is? She allows me to pay her whatever the Lord placed on my heart. Because I consulted Him, she is paid standard scale for dance instructors. (I also believe that by the same measure we sow, we reap. When we take care of people, God will take care of us).

It is up to us to treat one another well. Should we make demands for our service? Have we reached a level where we must be comfortable and happy to minister the Word of God? (WOW- How did Paul do it from jail?) Again, let the Word and the Holy Spirit guide. A few parting Scriptures for thought:

1 Timothy 5:17
[Honor the Elders] Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.

1 Thessalonians 2:8-9

“So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.”

Acts 20:34-35
“Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

1 Corinthians 9:13-15
“Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.”

Luke 10:3-12
“Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city.

Let’s not only preach the Word, but live it!

All Scriptures quoted from the New King James Version.

His Servant,
Rekesha Pittman

Friday, October 16, 2009

Idol Eyes

When we have a voice that influences people, we must prayerfully guard what we say. People are often looking for a leader, mentor, or other inspiration to get closer to the goal. In the dance ministry realm, the need for personal leadership seems to have taken on a life of its own...

For some reason, a growing population of dancers do not feel as though their own Pastors or churches are equipped enough to provide them with needed training. In many senses, this analysis may hold some truth, but we must not allow pride to enter in. God is raising up "specialists" who are studied in the worship arts and can provide some much-needed guidance in many areas. This does not give us the right to disregard the leadership that He has already provided.

The hidden danger lies in the fact that there is a growing belief of inferiority and a need to be validated by others in movement ministry. How do I know this? I look at the growing advertisements for ministry training and licensing/ordination programs, dance competitions that seek to highlight the "best" in the praise dance genre, churches clamoring for dance ministry presence even when it is clear that the people are not ready, and the explosion of groups hosting dance conferences! Some would argue that this is a good thing, but it is not benefitting the Kingdom if the motive behind it is wrong. Thus, many sheep are being wounded and misled.

We must fix our eyes on the Lord. When we trust Him to provide us with relationships that will develop our gifts and talents, we can testify to the fruitfulness of it. What God has joined together should not be tampered with by man.

If we are not watchful, we can begin to idolize the dance ministers that we feel have "made it" in some way. This includes published authors, conference hosts and facilitators, television personalities, dance ministry leaders, marketplace ministers, and more. The danger in pursuing relationships with others based on a need for personal validation is that we can develop selfish reasons for wanting to connect with them.

If we are led by our emotions, we may discover ourselves bending over backwards to accommodate outrageous requests, develop man-pleasing habits in serving, or praising our "idols" more than we give glory to God. We cannot simply blame those who abuse the mentor-mentee relationship. As it is often said: "It takes two..."

For those of us who are in leadership, we must not allow ourselves to revel in the praise, gifts, accolades, or status that comes with having influence in ministry. Remaining humble before the Lord will compel us to point others to Him. Allowing for even a moment of "look at me," can be our downfall.

If we are called to mentor, remember that it is the image of Christ that people are being transformed into. Those called to lead must not do so with dollar signs in our eyes. On both sides of the fence, keeping Jesus as our focus will combat the idolization of creation. When we longingly look for a "savior" to lead us to life in the movement ministry, we may find ourselves with "idol eyes."

New King James Bible Version

1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Zechariah 10:2
For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd.

Isaiah 31:1
[The Folly of Not Trusting God] Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Detox... If... I...

We must admit, if we allow people and circumstances to hinder us, we will become toxic in ministry. The ministry of movement has made great strides in the areas of education, technical training, and greater inclusion in the general church assembly. With the increased opportunity that has presented itself, a very poisonous undercurrent can displace us if we are not watchful.

Opportunism is running rampant. Dancers are clamoring for status and relativity through academic accomplishments, endorsements, and busy travel schedules. While we may celebrate the strides that we have gained in these areas, we must remain humble in order to not let these elements be the driving force behind what we do.

Many have become mercenary in the pursuit of money over ministry in dance. Are people really determining what engagements they will accept based on paychecks, upscale accommodations and networking opportunities? The sad, but true answer is, "Yes." Though a servant is worthy of his wages, the great commission was never based on comfort. Ask Paul...

Am I more anointed than you because I have danced longer? Are you more qualified than me because you have a title? Is belonging to an organization the determining factor for us to be able to minister the Gospel worldwide through movement? Lord, deliver us from this yoke of bondage we have created for ourselves!

If you are in the ministry of movement (or a supporter), and sense that there must be more to this...

If you are sick and tired of the politics that have developed in the dance ministry realm...

If you are looking for a solution to the toxic state of many worship arts ministries today...

It's time to detoxify!

Enlist yourself as a patient at DANCE MINISTRY DETOX East- January 8th-9th in Arlington, VA.

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed!

January 8th - 9th
NRECA Conference Center - Arlington, VA
Host: Rekesha Pittman, Rain Rein Reign Ministries

New King James Version

Jeremiah 8:22
Is there no balm in Gilead,
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no recovery
For the health of the daughter of my people?

Acts 8:23
For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dance Ministry Myths- Part 2

As we continue delving into many dance ministry myths, the purpose of this series is to liberate us from religious bondage. We are not all created to function in the same way, so why should we all look the same, dance the same, use the same music, and become as traditional as the antiquated concepts we fight?

Today, I'd like to examine dance ministry myths at the local church level:

Does every church need to have a dance ministry?
Apparently, we have been adhering to the "turn to your neighbor" philosophy! Just because the church next door has a dance ministry does not mean that every church must have a movement group. Here's the problem: If we start a dance ministry in the local assembly just for the sake of having one, we may select a dance ministry leader who is not equipped for the task. When a group of dancers begin to operate without direction, then the things that banned dance ministry from the church historically may have us relegated to the sidelines again. Church leaders must realize that to everything there is a season, and just because dance ministry seems like a great and popular activity does not mean that it's time to start one just yet.

Bottom Line: Dance ministry is not a requirement for every church, but should be an option.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 (NKJV)
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance

Isn't Dance Ministry Just for Youth and Young Adults?
It amazes me how many churches still categorize the movement ministries under the "Youth Department." Was Miriam a child when she led the women with the timbrel and danced? Did King David's dance happen in his teen years? As a matter of fact, when Miriam danced, ALL the women followed after her. WOMEN! We must begin to embrace the ministry of dance as having no age or gender limits. The Word reminds us in Psalm 149:3 to "Let them praise His name with the dance!"

Bottom Line: Dance belongs in the church, is open to all, and brings glory to God!

Jeremiah 31:13 (NJKV)
“Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old, together; for I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow.

It Seems That There is Such a Limited Selection of Dance Garments!
ALERT: Dance garments are not in the Bible! The Bible does describe the garments of ministry for the priesthood, but we must realize that we must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth! Not all dances are "priestly" dances. I personally love beautiful garments, but over the years have discovered that certain garments may not work for the message. We do not wear costumes, but are to demonstrate the truth of the relationship or circumstance being shown through the use of the garments.

We are not limited by the garments presented to us in catalogues marketed to the masses. We may have an anointed seamstress or tailor in our midst who may be willing to provide what we need. We do not have to copy what everyone else wears at national and international dance conferences, but we must understand that modesty and forethought are key components as we go before the congregation. What we do not have (or do not understand), we need to pray about.

Bottom Line: We must consult the Lord concerning His pattern for our garment needs.

Matthew 6:30 (NKJV)
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Shouldn't My Church Pay for All of My Dance Ministry Needs?
This would be nice, but the truth is that many churches simply do not have a budget for the dance ministry. This usually means that we are each responsible for purchasing ministry garments, paying for travel, financing dance classes, etc. We must take personal responsibility for our growth in ministry.

Planning in advance for purchases will help to ease some of the financial burden for the group. Fundraising may provide assistance for ministry needs, but we must first verify if the church is in agreement with our fundraising efforts, and that the products or cause behind the fundraiser do not compromise the Gospel message or ministry in any way. If the church is able to bless us financially, then we should express our appreciation by showing demonstrated growth in the ministry.

Bottom Line: The Lord is our Provider.

Proverbs 16:16 (NKJV)
How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

Shouldn't We Be Allowed to Dance Whenever We Want In Our Local Church?
It is better to be invited to dance then to be told to take our seats. While we may have liberty, everyone may not be in that place as of yet. For years, dancers have complained abou being "Christmas, Mother's Day, and Easter" dancers. The Lord will show us favor at His appointed time. We must also be honest enough to know if the ministry has demonstrated enough excellence to go forth on a regular basis.

Some churches frequently support the movement ministry operating each Sunday through Praise and Worship dance! While it can be an awesome sight to see all of the arts ministries coming together, we must not pressure our local church to accommodate something for which it is not ready. If our church has granted us this liberty and we visit another church, we must not assume that the same grace applies. As difficult as it may be for us to stay in our seats, it is better to obey.

Bottom Line: You'd better ask somebody!

Acts 21:39-40 (NKJV)
But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.” So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying...

There are still many more myths to debunk! We must earnestly seek the Lord concerning every step we take. What works for us may not apply to someone else's ministry or local church. Let's walk in liberty!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

About My Father's Business- Part 1

I have been inspired and encouraged to write a series by a few of my ministry friends, so I would like to start with an underdeveloped area of dance ministry: Business Administration. I would prefer to call this series "Wisdom for Dancers" as I see a lack of it for so many of us. This subject is not only for those who host conferences or lead dance ministries, but for everyone who would like to operate at a higher level of excellence. Great tips, preparation, and practical advice can save us lots of money and heartache down the road.

Today I will cover some basics, and will add as the series progresses...

Dance Ministry Name
Our name speaks to our personality, character, and function. There are several examples in the Bible where people are given names or renamed according to his or her purpose in life: (Abram to Abraham / Sarai to Sarah). At other times, a completely new name may have been given as conversion took place (Saul to Paul).

In our dance and movement ministries, our names should speak to the assignment to which the Lord called us. If we find ourselves with a name that may be trendy (Ex: DIVAS of Praise) or a product of our own invention, we may have to pray that the Lord reveal to us His intended name for the ministry. (For the record, I do not know a group named "DIVAS of Praise," and only used this example for clarity.)

Groups that are named after a local church may find themselves only dancing inside of that church when viewed prophetically. There is nothing wrong with functioning within our assigned areas, but if we are to go into all the world with the gospel, wouldn't it make sense not to have names that limit us to one location? Naming a dance ministry that belongs to a church body in no way takes away from the relationship to the congregation. We must remember that we a part of a larger Body.

Genesis 17:15 (NKJV)

Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.

Dance Ministry Mission and Vision Statement
We do not have to search the internet to find a mission and vision statement to "borrow" from another ministry. We should know our basic ministry purpose, who we are called to serve, how we are to function, and why we are doing it through dance. If we understand that the basic purpose of this is to record our God-given mission and mandate, we can use this as a guideline to stay on target. We are each uniquely called to meet specific needs. If we find ourselves veering away from the goal, we need to take the necessary steps to get back in line.

Habakkuk 2:2 (NKJV)
[The Just Live by Faith] Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it."

Dance Ministry Logo
This should directly relate to the ministry name and vision. The Word is full of visual imagery and symbolism. Our logo should be a good indicator of what people can expect from our ministries. Colors, symbols, font, and overall placement are all important factors to consider. Clip art may not be enough to portray an accurate picture of what the Lord wants to reveal through us.

A great Graphic Designer can assist with this process, but I have found that it's better to work with one who is also a spirit-filled believer. Prayer and a clear vision must be a key component in this process. Let's not feel inadequate, it's better to have something than nothing at all, but when we know better, we should do better.

Deuteronomy 4:23 (NKJV)
Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the LORD your God has forbidden you.

Dance Ministry Online Presence
There are multiple ways to present ourselves online including websites, social networking sites, blogging sites, and more. I will get into specifics later, but want to highlight the importance of the image that we project to the public. If we are living a lifestyle that reflects Christian principles, it may not be as difficult to censor ourselves online.

If we post comments and pictures that would make people question our stand as it relates to the Gospel, we may need to think before placing these things in public for the world to view. What may seem like freedom to us may backfire as we see our ministries lose momentum due to foolishness on our part. Our liberty should not cause others to stumble. It's amazing to me to see how many people in ministry do not have a grasp on how the enemy can use what we write and expose to our own demise.

2 Corinthians 6:3 (NKJV)
We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed.

When we consider the plans of the Lord for our lives, we will open ourselves up to be instructed in His ways. While we may be creative, wisdom will teach us how to properly handle what the Lord gives us. As we continue to be about His business, we will talk about more areas that will help us do His will, and not our own.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dance Ministry Myths

We must make sure that we are not so steeped in tradition and "catch phrases" that we fail to worship in truth. Many times I have spoken about throwing away the "dance ministry handbook" and choosing to follow God. This does not mean that we do not have operating standards and a written code of conduct for our ministries. I am encouraging all of us to be open to the Lord's leading, even if someone has tried to convince us otherwise.

Many of the misconceptions in the movement ministry could be resolved with a simple Bible study. I am still alarmed by the amount of dancers all over the world who have very little knowledge of who danced in the Bible, much less a basic understanding of their function in the Body. I am grateful to have the opportunity to pour into the lives of many, but also reminded that it not my assignment to keep people in bondage through the "rules."

Here are a few recurring dance ministry "myths" that I have encountered over the years:

Did David really dance out of his clothes?
How many times have we heard this from the pulpit? The concept that many seem to embrace is that David was naked or almost nude when he danced before the Lord with all his might. Let's look at what the Scripture actually says in 2 Samuel 6:14: Then David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. The concept that he "uncovered himself" came from the same person who mocked him in the window- his wife! 2 Samuel 6:20 records, "Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” Kings traditionally wore royal garments, but if we want to accept him as nude, then we would also have to accept her opinion of him.

Bottom line: The Bible does not actually say that David danced out of his clothes... He was wearing something!

Is wearing jewelry, make-up, nail polish, etc, banned in dance ministry?
The Word is rich with symbolism and meaning. When we are wearing anything for ministry purposes, we must understand its significance.

Brides and bridegrooms adorned themselves for weddings. (Isaiah 61:10) Rings and necklaces were often given as a sign of honor by the king. (Genesis 41:42) Wearing jewelry itself is not a sin, but we must remember safety when doing so while dancing. Some cultures may have a problem with men wearing earrings in the church. Let's not be a stumblingblock, where possible.

Bottom line: If we are wearing jewelry merely to impress others, then we already know that we have the wrong intentions...

Make-Up and Nail Polish
This too can be more of a traditional preference or modern liberty. Wearing heavy make-up and dancing in white may yield interesting results... Some dance pieces may call for specific characterization with make-up to assist with the meaning of the piece. Too much enhancement may be a distraction as well. Vivid nail polish and fancy artwork may be a potential distraction in a ministry piece.

Bottom line: Let's walk in humility and wisdom...

It's not sound doctrine to criticize others for beautification efforts, but we must exercise wisdom and consult the Lord for ourselves and our ministries. If we are in a ministry that does not embrace wearing jewelry, make-up, or nail polish, we must follow suit to be on one accord.

Is it a requirement to have a dance ministry license or professional training to join the dance ministry?
Show me a license to dance in the Bible! It is amazing how knowledge can puff us up. While education and dance technique can greatly increase our ability to be able to teach and be more effective, God will use whomever He chooses!

Must I wear elaborate garments to dance?
Every movement piece does not require extravagant garments; however, we must read the Word concerning proper attire before the people. When we are open to hearing the voice of the Lord, we may be surprised at some of the unconventional ideas He will give us!

There are many more myths that we can cover, but the misinformation that so many dancers have is astounding. For dance ministry educators: Let's make sure that we are teaching according to the Bible, and not our own opinions. We do the Body a disservice when we use our influence to promote our preferences over teaching people to obey the Lord. Let no one mislead us: God is in control!

(New King James Version)

Matthew 15:9
And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.

Ephesians 4:13-15
Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

Applause is not enough. Compliments mean very little. Popularity fades. When we operate as dancers demonstrating the Word, are we witnessing signs and wonders on a frequent basis? If we believe, then signs should follow us!

Not all of us will have the same effect on people, and we should not try to duplicate the power that we witness through the ministry of others. The Lord will uniquely anoint each one of us both as individuals and as groups to impact people however He sees fit. If we see a dancer lay hands on people, that does not mean that we must do it in the same way. Just because someone is effective with flags and billows does not grant us the same gifting. When we obey the voice of the Lord, we will discover where we are most effective.

We are a continual work in progress. Some of us may not be spiritually ready for demonic activity to surface in response to our dance. If we are prepared, we will know how to properly respond in such cases. Studying the Scriptures and receiving sound doctrine will equip us for the work ahead.

Some of the signs that can manifest during and after ministry can include healing, angelic presence, demonic manifestation, weeping, worship, repentance, people coming to the altar, prophetic song/Word/dance, etc. Whatever happens, we must be ready to take the necessary steps.

If we are not experiencing supernatural power through our ministries, we must not covet the ministries of others who do. Humble prayer, study, and obedience to God's Word will be characteristic in the life of a beleiver. Calling ourselves praise dancers, liturgical dancers, mimes, worship dancers, crumpers, contemporary movement artists, or other titles do not endow us with power. It is the Lord's doing, and we must avail ourselves to be used of Him.

New King James Version

Mark 16:17-18
And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

John 6:2
Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.

Ephesians 1:13-14
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

2 Timothy 4:17
But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


When we are over-anxious for an opportunity, we may fail to pray to the Lord for His direction. So many dance ministers today are eager for an opportunity and will say "yes" to every invitation. When we are confident in our assignment in the Body, we will trust the Lord to guide our every step.

Affiliations, networks, organizations, groups, clubs, and the like may be great places to be enriched in resources and information concerning the ministry of movement. Desiring to belong to a program, organization, group must be decided with the correct intentions, or we are destined for disappointment. As painful as it may seem, some not-so-Godly connections may give us wisdom in making better choices down the road.

Many people desire mentoring in the worship arts, and this is noble. The problem lies in that many who may not be called to mentor others may see a financial opportunity in becoming a guru to the masses. When we are misaligned concerning who has influence in our lives, we may find ourselves broken, wounded, tormented, and confused in the end. Just become someone is popular in a field does not mean that they have ability to lead us.

Here are questions to consider before choosing a mentor:

1- Does the ministry seem to evolve entirely around him or her in spoken messages, websites, pictures, or other published materials?

2- Are you selecting the person based on perceived popularity?

3- Do you feel like an outsider or sense an elitist behavior from the leader or within the organization he or she governs?

4- Do you feel as though (or have you been told that) you must have a dance ministry license or special ordination in order to be considered legitimate in the dance ministry realm?

5- Do you believe that connecting with certain leaders will give you more credibility?

If we are not aware of the traps that exist to hinder us, we may discover that some leaders appear to be powerful in public, but are a disaster in private. We must pray to the Lord for the ability to distinguish the good fruit from the bad. We must stay connected to the Tree of Life, and we must know that this is the prerequisite for uniting ourselves with other righteous leaders.

When the Lord links us with the right leaders to pour into our lives, we will experience the benefits of such a relationship. Forging a relationship with the intentions of gaining notoriety for ourselves may be an issue concerning our hearts. Before we can connect with anyone, we must be sure to be connected to the One that is able to lead, guide, promote, and develop us in His perfect will.

Ezekiel 17:24
And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the LORD, have spoken and have done it.”

Matthew 3:10
And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 7:15-20
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Related Links:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Copy, Right?

The Word tells us in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is nothing new under the sun. God has created all things. He inspired the writers of the Scriptures to record the history, prophecy, and poetry that was God-given. We share the Word of God with the world and quote from it liberally.

In dance and movement ministry, ignorance does not absolve us from following the laws of the land. Choreography, music, writings, published works, images, and a host of other "intellectual property" may be protected under the law. We cannot liberally take from protected works without giving the proper credit. Let's look at a couple of scenarios for clarity:

Choreography and Dance
Ballet, Modern, African, and other dance disciplines involve technical elements that are widely accepted. Even with technical training, Graham, Horton, Ailey, and other renowned choreographers are often given credit for their contributions to the art form. As movement ministers, we share many elements of dance and movement that can be considered "public domain," but if we take an entire section of choreography from someone and apply it without permission, we are in essence stealing it.

When we receive instructions from the Lord in regards to movement, He will give us creativity and movement beyond our imaginations! This choreography may or may not include the technical elements of dance. He may instruct us to use props, flags, billows, streamers, etc, or not. Our steps are indeed ordered by Him!

Written Works
Many of us often quote from the Bible, and we should! However, when we write books, manuals, blogs, articles, etc, we should be understand the laws that we are governed by. If we are using a quote, we should cite the source of it. If we quote from a book, we must follow protocol for citing sources in our written works. Writings published on the internet may be protected as well. Whether we are aware of the terms or not, we should never present works that we have been inspired by as our own.

Many versions of the Bible are not under copyright, but some versions are. For instance, the King James Version of the Bible is public domain; however, the NIV, NASB, NKJV, and many other translations are copywritten. When we publish works, we must research to see what permissions we have, or we may find ourselves in a court of law. If we study to show ourselves approved, we will not be ashamed! (2 Timothy 2:25)

Artistic Works and Logos
Many dance ministries use visual aids in ministry or to advertise an upcoming event. It is easy to right-click and save a picture to use for advertisments, websites, blogs, and more. If we use a protected work, we may have to pay fees and penalties if we did not obtain the proper licensing for it.

If another ministry or company has a logo that we like, we cannot simply take it and use it for ourselves. Paying a graphic designer to create a custom work may very well be worth it. Be careful though, even if you are not aware that a work is under protection, we can still be held liable for posting it on our websites and materials.

This is a touchy area especially in the church. Many dance ministries use songs without permission for public worship, and in many cases, this is acceptable if we are not charging admission fees. If we take those same dances and sell them on DVD or upload them onto YouTube or a similar video service, we can be sued for copyright infringement. Does this means that we must use original works for every song? We do not have to go that far, but remember several times the Bible tells us to "sing unto the Lord a NEW song." Get WRITE church!

The Lord is concerned about our motives. Most movement ministers are not lawyers, but we can properly prepare ourselves if we take the necessary steps to combat the traps of the enemy. The Bible also lets us know in Hosea 4:6 that "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." We cannot use the Holy Spirit or the Gospel as an excuse to take the gifts and talents of others and present them as our own. Even if our intentions were not to do so, the law protects creative works and we must adhere to them. Let's walk upright. We do not want to have a subpoena come to our doors to learn the lesson!

New King James Bible Version

Leviticus 19:11
You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.

Jeremiah 23:30
“Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who steal My words every one from his neighbor.

John 12:49
For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.

Romans 13: 1-3
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.

Monday, August 31, 2009

All Play and No Work

Dance and movement ministry has a growing presence on the internet and in the media. As many continue to make connections through social networking, there is also a danger lurking in the shadows of ignorance. Though internet access has definitely been used to bring glory to God, there is much temptation that lies at the door if we are not careful to exercise wisdom and discipline.

Anything exciting can become addictive. Many dancers spend countless hours online posting thoughts, quotes, observations, and opinions. When these activities get in the way of our responsibilities, we must not ignore them but make the necessary adjustments. We cannot remain babes, drinking milk only. We should welcome accountability in our lives, especially from those that love us.

Here are a few questions we must ask ourselves to know if we are compromising our families, ministries, or reputations online:

Do I spend hours of my day posting messages, even during work hours or designated family time?

Are the comments that I write edifying or just random thoughts?

Will the comments that I make in any way make me appear hypocritical in regards to the ministry God has entrusted me with?

Am I getting in arguments with people online that may cause more damage than good?

Can my comments be deemed inappropriate or do others often tell me that I am sharing "too much information?"

Did the time I spent online hinder me from writing my book, updating my website, rehearsing for upcoming ministry, or preparing myself for the future?

In any ministry context, we must accept the fact that how we present ourselves to the world can enhance or tarnish our ministries. There are healthy outlets for us to express ourselves, share our feelings, and connect with people. Opinions of men do not matter. Our behavior must agree with the Word of God if our faith is a lifestyle and not just a once-weekly phenomenon. We must ask ourselves at what cost are we willing to do harm to the Body to satisfy our own desires and need for self-expression.

New King James Version

Proverbs 14:23
In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty.

John 9:4
I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.

1 Corinthians 3:12-14
Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward

2 Thessalonians 3:10-11
For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.

Friday, August 28, 2009


I believe that the church must be relevant today. Dance Ministry should not be the same as it was 5 or 10 years ago. We must continue to grow in the things of God. With that said, the Lord does not change. We cannot call evil things good and good things evil if we walk in truth. He is still a Holy God. We must not handle the things of God without consulting Him about the proper order. When we aim to use secular means to reach the people of today, our motives matter. How far is too far?

Only the Lord can truly judge where we are in Him. When we receive the Holy Spirit, He will guide us into all truth. Fearing God means that there are certain things that He will reveal to us that shows us what pleases Him. When we aim to do a thing in with the motive to "reach" someone, we open the doorway for error. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Jesus said if He would be lifted up, HE would draw all men unto Himself! We praise God for the diversity of movement ministry, but we must accept the fact that the Lord does not just accept "anything and everything" from us just because we do it in His name.

If we dance in sheer garments in the name of Jesus, is it ok because there was a soul saved afterwards? If we dance seductively in front of an audience and someone tells us they were blessed by it, does this make it acceptable? If He wants to reach someone, He will, but the end does not justify the means.

The Lord will hold each of us accountable for our actions. We must not take His name in vain. He gives us the liberty to dance, rejoice, praise, worship, sing, shout, and bring glory to His name. We must also remember that there is a time and season and purpose for everything. Let us make sure that we are moving in God's Divine timing.

New King James Version

1 Chronicles 15:13
For because you did not do it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.

Isaiah 5:20
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Matthew 7:21-23
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"

2 Corinthians 6:14
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

An Open and Shut Case

The ministry of movement entails more than dancing. As a matter of fact, anyone can be a liturgical praise dancer. Not everyone is a true worshipper, movement minister, or servant of the Lord. The Lord observes our every step, so we must proceed with caution.

Beyond what we do in front of others, what we say can promote health or bring destruction to our ministries. The messages that we share include both the words we say and the messages we write for public observation. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks!

If we are on public social networking forums, blogs, etc, and openly display sexual innuendos, negative talk, and double-mindedness, this will affect our ministries. If we appear to need intense emotional therapy before others, it will hamper their ability to receive the word from us. We must pray for wisdom! It's not that we have to be perfect, but we must realize that we have the ability to place a stumblingblock in the paths of others if we are not careful.

The enemy is crafty. The Bible reminds us in Proverbs 29:11 that a fool vents all his mind! If we are not students of the Word, we can find ourselves being the antithesis of Christian living. Does this mean that we cannot express ourselves with one another and confess our faults? Of course not. The question is, do we want to air out all of our imperfections on a community billboard? What we say can and will be used against us- good or bad. Let's not hinder the spread of the Gospel with our own foolishness...

New King James Bible Version

Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Colossians 3:8
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

James 3:10
Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

User Friendly

The term "friendship" today is used very loosely. On many social networking sites, we are invited to confirm people as our "friends." This confirmation usually grants them acces to our profiles and other personal information. As a result, we can see commentary and photos that are uploaded by our friends onto these websites. This can prove to be quite an experience!

As more of us become connected, we may receive requests from people that we may not actually know, but have some mutual friends or other common interests. These sites can become awesome tools of reaching beyond our geographic locations to share common ideas, activities, and encouragement. If done correctly, this allows the Body to become more jointly fit together.

Many dance ministries are becoming acquainted online. On the other hand, we may meet someone at a conference or other ministry gathering, and then find them online to remain connected. With growing technology, we are able to stay in contact and updates for a few seconds a day instead of a several minute (or hour) phone call. Information dissemination can happen quickly and easily.

The danger for us lies in the temptation to relentlessly promote our events and happenings without thought of the extended ramifications. I have personally been "tagged" in photos and videos that I am in no way present in or connected to. Being tagged will usually lead someone to see the referenced item. Imagine my surprise when upon several occasions, I was in no way affiliated with the subject!

Why is this happening? People often tag videos with the names of popular people to drive "visitors" to the video or website. Maybe the people promoting the subject wanted to make sure that I saw the image or video link? I believe that we must walk in truth. If we are posting images and videos and do a little "creative advertising" to get people to take a look, we are in effect, lying.

Must we use one another without permission to promote our own agendas? Are we requeting people as "friends" only to enlarge our advertising bases? Do we gather friends to brag about how many people we have on our social networking pages, and then use them as marketing tools? People who use people soley for gain are not true friends. Let us continue to walk in integrity at all times, and not get caught up in the ways of the world around us...

New King James Version

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

2 Corinthians 4:2
But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

3 John 1:4
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

Galatians 5:13
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I'm Baaaack!

WOW! So where do I begin? It's been a minute since I have blogged, but am now ready to continue the mission. The Lord has given me several subjects to write about, but today I just want to give some testimonies and ministry updates.

Reignaissance Designs(TM) at BLESSED Retail Store!
The Lord blessed Rekesha Pittman(me) and Victoria Shaffer to open BLESSED in Las Vegas, Nevada! I was able to quit my job and become a full time entrepreneur! At BLESSED, Reignaissance Designs(TM) are available and features dance garments, streamers, Classy Classwear(TM), Praise Dance Accessories, and more! Visit us at 3300 S. Jones in Las Vegas, Nevada for your praise dance needs. Call (877)420-4777 to make an appointment TODAY!

Here is a news article written about the store in the local newspaper:

DMD was held in Las Vegas July 16th-18th. I must say that it was the best conference that Rain Rein Reign Ministries has hosted to date! Each speaker and workshop presenter was led of God to do the work to DETOX the affected areas of the Body. Healing, deliverance, and supernatural worship flowed! It is hard to describe the miracles that took place at Dance Ministry Detox. Many thanks to God, the staff, speakers, and DETOX "patients" that made this conference possible.

We officially begin training a liturgical dance company in April 2009. The Lord has been good to us, and we are currently dancing at several community events. Come join us at the following events:

August 23rd: Summer Concert at Mountaintop Faith Ministries
September 5th: Power 88 SuperSoul Gospelfest at the Henderson Pavilion.
September 20th: Diversity Fest at Cashman Theater.

I just returned from the Diversified Praise Dance Conference held by Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Temple in Hampton, Virginia on August 14th-15th. The hospitality and care exhibited by SMZBC was awesome! The conference was refreshing and inspiring. God truly moved in the place and had His way!

Kudos to Lakita Humber for hosting a praise dance blog carnival! Check out many anointed writers here:

Equipping the Saints- September 10th-12th (St. Louis, MO)
Hosted by: Paneh Praise Dance & Mime Ministries
Register Online:

There is much more that I have to share with you, but I just wanted you to know that I am still serving dance ministers through the written word. Please feel free to send a message for any issues that you would like to see addressed.

In His Service,
Rekesha Pittman

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

You Wear It Well!

Dance conferences often require planning in advance, even in the area of garments. Depending upon the length of the conference, often, at least two clothing changes are needed for each day: Daytime Sessions and Evening Sessions. If we pack wisely, we can avoid overpacking with sufficent attire for the event.

During the Day: Modest comfortable clothing is usually the standard. Plunging necklines, sleeveless shirts, short-shorts, or bare midriffs are deemed inappropriate attire for ministry movement conferences. We must consider others, even if it means making ourselves a bit less comfortable. Many groups wear their ministry t-shirts or other dance-related attire to movement and workshop sessions. Images and wording that do not bring honor to God may offend attendees. When in doubt, stick to solid colors.

During the Evening: Many dance conferences encourage wearing praise garments, even if you are not scheduled to dance for the service. Group praise and worship dance may be encouraged, and beautiful garments add to the celebration in the atmosphere. Some base the evening attire on the conference theme, some choose a certain color for a certain night, and others just encourage you to wear a dance ministry garment. For non-dancers, worship-worthy attire is often the standard.

If we build our wardrobes in advance, we may already have many of the garments needed for thematic services. It helps to have solid basics that can be dressed up or down with an overlay or ephod. Solid white or black palazzos, tops, and skirts can be combined with colorful coverings to match multiple themes. Often, vendors at ministry events sell overlays and basics that you can use in the future for other events.

Planning ahead gives us the financial liberty to purchase any additional garments needed well in advance. Conference hosts should take care to announce any desired wardrobe requests well in advance to give delegates enough time to prepare. Whatever the selection, don't bust your budget trying to buy new garments for each event.

New King James Version

Exodus 28:3
So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments, to consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest.

Proverbs 31:24
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.

Isaiah 52:1
Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean Shall no longer come to you.

Revelation 3:5
He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How Would You Rate It?

There is a science to conference planning and event management. It may be exciting to think of potential speakers, class topics, dates, and locations, but if we do not plan for the reality of the business side of ministry, we may be headed for failure. Although we all need to hear from God in terms of what He specifically wants us to do, we can use Godly wisdom and expertise when planning events.

One issue that is often debated are registration costs for ministry conferences. In many cases, registration does not cover the complete cost of the event expenses. Because event hosts do not want conference cost to be out of reach, additional fundraising efforts are put in place. Many factors go into determining the price of admission. If the price is set too low, the burden of meeting the financial obligations falls on the event host. If the price is too high, attendance may be low and goals may not be met.

If the event is being hosted at a hotel, there are often costs associated with booking the meeting room space. Meeting room space is often determined by the amount of food & beverage purchased. In the case of most dance conferences, there is little to no F&B, so meeting room space is often charged to the organization by a daily rate. Depending on the size of the room, this could cost thousands of dollars! When purchasing food & beverage, the hotel will usually offset the costs of the meeting space by the amount of food purchased. If a pre-determined minimum is met, this will often result in low-cost to no-cost meeting room space.

Upon signing a contract with the hotel, an initial deposit is usually required, ranging from several hundred dollars to several thousand depending upon where the event is hosted and the projected total cost. Since this money is needed up front, event hosts may run an "Early Bird" Registration Rate to raise enough capital to cover these costs. As the event draws closer, several payments can be made to the venue, with payments usually due in full a few days before the event.

When dealing with hotels, we must be careful not to overestimate our attendance or amount of rooms needed, as this may end up costing us BIG BUCKS! Looking to cancel less than 30 days before a scheduled event? Be prepared to pay the piper. We may want to run the contract by a lawyer or other experienced event planner so that we do not run into any potentially devastating financial surprises. Even churches are charging facility usage fees that require a signed contract. Let's be sure to count the cost before building.

If using speakers from outside of the event area, there are often travel costs associated with hosting them. Although some conferences encourage speakers to cover their own travel costs, many others provide travel arrangements and sleeping rooms for out of town guests at the expense of the ministry.

If the event is planned far enough in advance, we can save money on airfare and book our guests during optimal flight times or preferred airline carriers (all carriers are not created equal!). Hotel rooms may also be booked on behalf of the speakers, and in some instances, speakers may share rooms. Be sure to obtain permission before pairing up a speaker with a roommate.

Hotels charge a nightly rate for sleeping rooms, with payment in full due at check-out. If the event runs more than 2 days and several speakers are involved, this could also cost thousands of dollars. If you are not covering room service and incidentals, be sure to inform your speakers that these charges will be their responsibility. Regular Registration Rates may cover these costs, as well as go toward any related F&B.

In many cases, there are other areas that event hosts must spend money. Need a conference logo? Planning to send out flyers? Handing out registration bags? Printing conference booklets? Hiring someone to design the location atmosphere? Hosting a dinner for speakers? Need a 1-800 number? Need a website? Shall I go on?

Conference extras can be the saving grace or the destruction of our ministry events. Little amounts can add up to much if we are not prepared for them. We must pray to determine if we really want or need something when it comes to our plans. What is not necessary is an expendable item. Let's make sure to have the needs in place before purchasing the optional items. Late Registration Rates may cover the printing of conference materials, but flyers and other promotional materials may need to take place earlier.

We will not get into whether we agree or disagree with honorariums vs. love offerings. The reality is that bringing in speakers costs. Registrations and fundraising efforts can help offset the costs of these. If possible, we should try to have checks ready in advance and in envelopes so that we handle business with the greatest level of care and discretion.

Speakers may need transportation to and from the airport. If a car, van, or limo rental is needed, this is a cost the organization usually incurs. Gift baskets and welcome packets are other nice items to include for special guests. If we are providing meals for speakers or other allowances, we should factor this into our projected budgets. At-the-Door Registrations may provide some petty cash or money to help settle the final hotel bill.

If we do not give people incentive to register early, we may not have the funds we need in time to meet our obligations. For many conferences, Group Registrations are offered discounts for booking a certain minimum number of registrations. Many people wait until the last minute to pay for registrations. If the majority of delegates did this, the event may be in jeopardy of cancellation.

Running a successful event takes more than faith. Our faith must have works to go along with it. We must pray and seek God and exercise good judgment when planning events. When we find out what works, we know that God will be pleased with our stewardship.

New King James Version

1 Chronicles 28:19
“All this,” said David, “the LORD made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans.”

Psalm 127:1
Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

Luke 6:48
He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.