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.

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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.