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THE HISTORY OF DANCE IN THE CHURCH

I. INTRODUCTION – WHERE DOES DANCE BELONG IN THE CHURCH?

A.The statement and relevance of dance and the church. From all the
commands and regulations that Israel created in their attempts to be holy,
Jesus came on the scene and summed them all up in two perfect
commandments: “love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love
your neighbor as yourself.” In both Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27 Jesus made
the command even more holistic by including “strength”. These two
commandments should both guide and be a measure of proof that a Christian
is living a genuinely authentic Christian life pleasing to the Lord. Clearly, God
calls His children to worship Him, and from that worship, there should be an
outward expression of love for Him that comes from participation of all one’s
heart, soul and mind and strength because He is worthy to be praised! From
this expression of worship that God commands and still desires for His
people, dance has a significant place in worship of Him. The full description of
‘heart, soul and mind and strength’ reveals a wholeness of intent for genuine
worship of God, which has been lost in our present age. Jesus also
commands the Church to “go into all the world and preach the good news”, as
is the great commission. Christians are called to reach a generation that are
not interested in religion but instead in real, honest, genuine people living their
lives for something more than what the world has to offer. They long for hope
in a hopeless world. Using dance and portraying the realities of our sin, the
cost of the cross, and introducing the Man that saved the human race from it,
allows them to hear the gospel. It speaks their language, and they want to
listen, when before, most would walk away from the idea of a religious talk.

Recognizing the relevance of dance in the church today, both in worship and
in its use as an evangelistic tool, is crucial for the health of the body of Christ
for its participation in sharing the hope of salvation to a lost and hurting
generation. This act of dance is much more than just a desired movement, it
is built within the Body of Christ, and God is waiting for His bride to yet again
bring this sacrifice of praise to the altar.

The call and controversy of worshipping through dance. Throughout history,


each follower of Yahweh, has struggled to know and obey the call to worship
the One and only Holy God with all his heart, soul and mind and strength.
History shows contradicting examples of good Godly worship with others that
God despised, and even killed over. “Worship” has become a hard word to
define in its entirety because of the broad speculations that can encompass
“worship”. Does a church service confine or contain all that is worship, or can
one worship God even when they do the dishes? Does worship have to
include words? Does it have to be in a specific place? All of these questions
need to be wrestled through by every Christian, because if God has called the
Bride of Christ to a full expression of worship, and the Church is choosing to
continue on in it’s limited ‘traditions’, she may be ignorantly missing a crucial
part of her role before Him.

Dance, for example, is one of the many issues Christians should be wrestling
through as either something that God has called His people to do to Him as
one of several expressions of worship in the Old Testament or not. The
psalmist exclaims clearly in 149th psalm, “Let them praise His name with
dancing”. This passage, with many others, needs to be analyzed to find the
truth of the calling for today’s church.

Now, a lot has changed since David wrote that psalm and many churches to
this day hold strong to the conviction that dancing is a sin. There are
obviously conflicting sides here, and they need to be explored. As we have
seen the Church evolve through time, somewhere down the line dance has
been banned in church settings and has been looked down upon by those
who would call themselves “Christians”. There are many reasons for this
condemnation of dance, and these reasons will be discussed throughout this
paper. As far as today goes, the Bride of Christ needs to be searching for
what God’s calling is for her as she worship’s Him. God has called the body of
Christ to praise Him through dance as part of their act of worship to Him and
through this paper, there will be sufficient evidence to reveal the Truth in this
matter.

Throughout history the Church has entangled itself with the outward
appearance and has become bogged down with controversial discussions
over of the physical aspect of dancing, when the real issue, is both harder to
reveal and measure, and is far more important to God than just the outward
act of dancing. Jesus was scathing with the Pharisees in Matthew 23 where
the religious leaders were accused of “straining at a bug while swallowing a
camel” and in verse 28 He tells them they “…outwardly appear righteous to
men, but inside are full of hypocrisy and sin”. Jesus’ challenge over and over
was toward full surrender and obedience. Dance has a huge part to play in
the church in allowing followers of Jesus to humble themselves and step out
in faith with their inadequacies, and experience true freedom. Dance-with the
right heart- can be used by the Holy Spirit in the church because its
involvement requires participants to let go of their pride and allow God’s
opinion to become the only opinion that matters. Jesus’ example in John 5:44
showed a casual disregard for what His audience thought of Him. To not be in
bondage to the fear of man anymore is a very freeing biblical position.

Physical dance is not the issue. The movement of the body does not have any
magical aspect to it. Dance does, on the other hand, by its act, have
vulnerability and heartfelt courage as an individual surrenders to the judgment
of those around him. His or her statement says it doesn’t matter what people
think because God’s pleasure is of far more worth and significance than the
uncomfortable fear and condemnation of fellow believers. To not step out in
obedience to what the Spirit is leading, whether it is dancing, kneeling, raising
of hands or even crying, is to say that God is worth less than the possibility of
disapproval from other fellow believers. Dance is one of the avenues to
finding true freedom in worship and experiencing a naked confidence like King
David’s.

A powerful and effective tool of evangelism. Presently, the culture of North


America feeds off the media, it is an entertainment driven culture, which in
turn causes the youth of this generation to become bombarded with lies from
the enemy as Hollywood defines and dictates who they need to become. Just
as the stories told by “the world” in Jesus’ day, were not full of truth, our
generation is being fed its own brand of lies. Jesus changed the world by
walking into the scene and revealing Himself to be the Truth through His
parables and stories. Thousands of people came to watch and listen and were
changed for the rest of eternity through witnessing them. This model needs to
be an eye opener to the church. For the body of Christ to be proactive in the
way they do evangelism, is allowing Jesus to present Himself just as He did
when He walked among the crowds(John 12:32) In the context of dance, the
Church needs to connect with the culture where they are and stop expecting
the “world” to come to church. Here is another action of abandon and
obedience, to “go” out and reach the lost just as Jesus commanded.

Dance has become an incredible highlight in our world today. Many countries
around the globe express themselves through their own unique cultural
dances which may range back hundreds of years. The recent stage of dance
popularity for many people has become something that they desire and aspire
to, to the point of actually becoming an idol in their lives. Lately, multiple TV
shows, just in North America alone, have become the latest craze in pop
culture; they promote the best dancers and dancing in general. Just as Paul
went into different circles to proclaim the gospel of Christ, using Greek poetry
(that originally described Greek gods!), he used thatto speak their language
and to describe the One and only Eternal God. “He became all things, to all
men, that by all means some may be saved” (1Cor.9:22). This is what the
Church needs to be doing with dance; out social setting screams opportunity
in speaking the language of this generation.

B.Objectives. The objectives of this paper are to reveal Truth in


Scripture where there is currently misunderstanding. To bring insight to the
church and challenge the Body of Christ to think about what is missing in
congregational freedom and participation in worship, and reveal that God
desires more from North American churches when it comes to praising a Holy
God; that “worship” is not about singing a song but surrendering a life to Him,
dying to one’s self and becoming obedient to the Spirit’s call. Also the
objectives of this paper are to allow people to see the great call to the Church
to reach the lost where they are. To challenge the body of Christ to begin to
think creatively with the gifts that God has given them, to proactively step out
“…and become all things to all people so that by all means some might be
saved”(1Cor.9:22). For too long, many Christians within the church have both,
put God in a box, and been living a lifestyle that does not experience freedom,
or a renewed life. God has other plans, but His plans will only be
accomplished through surrendered lives of service.

C. Assumptions and Limitations

Few Resources. There are not a lot of good books on the topic of
dance in the church because there hasn’t been a lot of dance in the church.
Many books that are out there with the word “dance” in the title are figurative.
For example, “The dance of Restoration”, a book on the restoration of
marriages or “The Great Dance” which talks about our relationship with God.
These books use the word “dance” as a way to describe how something is
played out, but without having any information and actual, physical dance.

Absence of strong views. Not a lot of people hold strong passionate views of
dance within the church, either for or against. And the few that do seem to be
swamped by others that don’t. Even others that may feel open to the
possibility of dance within the church seem to have the attitude that “you have
to choose your battles” and this is one that is not worth fight for. From this
understanding, the survey could be very weak because of the lack of open
discussion about their views.

Mass misunderstanding of the reason for dance. A great assumption going


into this paper is that the people of North American culture will not understand
the power and significance of dance within a worship setting. The youth of this
generation are going to love dance and anything to do with it, but the problem
in ministry lies with understanding how they define “dance” and that they may
enjoy it for the right or wrong reasons; therefore, asking a teenager if she
would like to have dance in her church could create problems and
misunderstanding for all involved.

D. Research Methodology. This paper will be accomplished and


fashioned by different books on the topic of dance within the church; both of
them will be used greatly. Research on the history of dance, touching different
time periods, will be presented and specifically in the present day Church
giving a greater understanding as to when and why the shift came from
“praising Him with dancing” to “you shall be cast out if you dance”. To get a
feel for what the current view of dance in the church is, there will be a survey
sent out to churches and individuals, on-line discussion groups and other
interviews with professors. The goal of these surveys will be to bring clarity as
to what people are thinking of this controversial issue and how to address it in
this paper. Different speakers on current culture will also have a part to play
within the practical aspect. But the main meat of this project will be coming
from the passages throughout the Bible that discuss dance and pinpoint the
connections and warnings Jesus made in His stories about being obedient to
His Spirit.

II. THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES

With a controversial topic such as dance in the church, there will be many
misused passages on this issue because of years of misinterpretation and
manipulation of the Word to serve individual’s personal agendas. The desire
in this paper is to seek the Truth of what God truly desires for the Church, in
the context of His own claim that His inspired Word is “useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). So one can
expect that God will reveal through His scriptures if this call to worship
through dance is from Him and for Him or not.

A. The call and controversy of worshipping through dance.

Dance in the Old Testament. The Hebrew tradition was full of dancing. It was
something that was the ‘norm’ throughout the time of the Old Testament. It
was truly a gift from Yahweh, “dance functioned as a medium of prayer and
praise, as an expression of joy and reverence, and as a mediator between
God and humanity. This understanding of dance permeated the faith of the
early Christian church.”[1] The children of Israel would hold religious festivals,
celebrations for triumphant victories, weddings, and dance was an essential
part of the celebrations of the ancient Israelites. “In many Old Testament
biblical allusions to, and descriptions of, dance there is no disapproval, only
affirmation of this medium of worship.”[2] The people are encouraged to
praise God with 'dancing, making melody to him with timbrel and lyre' (Psalm
149:3), and to 'praise him with timbrel and dance' (Psalm 150:4). Dancing was
such a common way of life in that time period and in that culture that in
passages alluding to rejoicing without specific mention of dancing, it can be
assumed dance was then normal and expected.

Obviously, there are thousands of years separating today’s church culture


from ancient Israel’s culture, traditions, and language, and this all has to be
taken in to account when trying to walk into this foreign world. In the Hebrew
language, “the most frequently used root for the word 'dance' in the Old
Testament is hul which refers to the whirl of the dance and implies highly
active movement.”[3]This is seen in multiple different cases within the Old
Testament, “at the defeat of Pharaoh's armies following the crossing of the
Red Sea, 'Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her
hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances'
(Exodus 15:20)” and also “when David slew Goliath, the women sang 'to one
another in dance' (1 Samuel 29:5).”[4] These expressions of dancing come
from complete joy in God and excitement for His goodness in their lives. It is
very easy to take today’s view on dance, place it in these stories and see
them as inappropriate, but that becomes a very inaccurate interpretation of
the Word and the point of the story is then lost. Think about how “Miriam
would be more than 80 years old (Moses was eighty, and he was the younger
brother) so that would also give us some idea of what kind of movements
were done by the ladies.”[5] These stories need to seen with news eyes in
their context.

King David. The story of King David dancing before the Lord with all his might
is probably one of the most popular stories to connect dance to the Bible. It is
also one of the most misunderstood passages as well. Many people talk
about how David dance naked before everyone, then laugh about it and move
on without giving it much thought.

The reality is David knew his clothes didn’t change who he was, “His royal
clothes carried no significance before God, and so he took them off to
dance.”[6] He was still wearing something underneath His royal clothes, so
the shocking part of this story is not that He was nude, but that He was the
King, and for a time he became a servant! At that time, only servants and
slaves danced for the higher classes like kings, and yet King David took that
position of a servant. God desires His worshippers to learn a lot from this little
story. First off, David illustrated, for the church, that no servant is greater than
his master. Just as Jesus humbled Himself as a servant, by washing His
disciples feet, David sets the bar high by challenging the Church never to
become too proud not to become undignified before their Lord. Another
connection that can be made is that “the success of the Gospel in our present
age does not depend on how attractively it is packaged, but on how honestly
real Christians are in living out their lives in the world.”[7]

David was a true worshipper in spirit and in truth. He didn't need a dance
instructor to dance. He forgot the crowd, and in a spontaneous moment of
spiritual emotion he, began humbly expressing His spiritual fervency as he
danced with all his might before the Lord. That was the kind of God-honoring
dance that was both Holy Spirit inspired and Holy Spirit anointed.

Dancing in the Psalms. David continues as the writer of the Psalms to express
his freedom in dancing and how God desires His people to dance for Him, in
fully surrendering everything to Him. In chapter 149 of the psalms, David
proclaims, “Let them praise his name with dancing”. This statement is far
greater than just a given opportunity or permission to dance. It is clearly, just
as in the creation account (where God commands, “Let there be light,”)
a creative commandment.

Some critics of dance hold a view that there was not a lot of dancing in
worship to Yahweh in the Old Testament. They might point to the limited
accounts of David and Miriam dancing before the Lord and claim that those
are not enough scriptural examples to prove that dance was a constant
expression of worship to the Israelites. But this accusation can quickly
become void with a clear definition of the words ‘praise’ and ‘worship’ in the
Hebrew and even Greek languages. They are “clearly defined by physical
movements and postures such as bowing, kneeling, lifting, clapping, waving
of hands, spinning, dancing, leaping, and even lying prostrate.”[8] This would
conclude that in all ‘worship’ or ‘praise’ settings there would have been
various types of ‘bowing, kneeling, lifting, clapping, waving of hands, spinning,
dancing, and leaping’. In the NIV version of the bible there are 250 times the
word ‘worship’ is used and 350 times the word ‘praise’ is used. This gives
insight in to how much God desires a full expression of worship and praise
from His people.

Other passages in the Old Testament define, in even more detail, how the
Israelites were called to worship Yahweh. Deuteronomy 6:5 speaks of
expressing our love for God with our entire being. This means spirit, soul and
body; clearly, our soul includes our mind will and emotions. “How could we
possibly express such strong emotions as thankfulness, love, and joy, without
using our physical bodies?”[9] Physically, try to express emotion without using
your body—it’s impossible! “Additionally, recent studies suggest there are
more references to dance in the New Testament than originally thought In the
Aramaic language which Jews spoke, the word for 'rejoice' and 'dance' are the
same. Hence, in including 'dance' with 'rejoice' there are references to
dancing and leaping for joy (Luke 6:23) as well as 'dancing in the Spirit' (Luke
10:21).”[10] Even the idea of rejoicing is important to God, “the word ‘rejoice’
is used 283 times in the Bible.’[11] Zephaniah 3:17 is an example of how God
rejoices over His followers! “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to
save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will
rejoice over you with singing."

Dance in the New Testament. Dance was an Old Testament expression of


worship and is seen only a few times in the words of the New Testament. This
is where most people conclude, in their minds, that dance is not for the
Church today. The conclusion is that since there are no instances of either
Jesus or His disciples teaching on dance as a part of worship, He must have
not wanted His people dancing. There are a few ways that one can interpret
this position. 1.) Jesus truly didn’t want people dancing as an expression of
worship to Him. (It is unlikely He would have not said dancing is wrong when
Jesus made all other prohibitions very clear.) 2.) Although dance is not taught
as an expression of worship, could it be that it was already happening and
didn’t need to be taught, that it was a normal way of life and everyone
accepted it as a given? 3.) Or maybe Jesus did teach on dancing and just as
His disciples missed so many crucial parts to His stories, the Church has
done the same.

Prodigal Son. There may be only a few references of the word ‘dance’ in the
New Testament, but when they are mentioned it’s a powerful portrayal of
God’s heart for dance. Jesus’ story about the prodigal son, for example, is a
beautiful and exciting representation of our lost condition apart from Him and
God’s incredible love and forgiveness for us. Jesus describes the Father
saying, “for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is
found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:24-25) This story depicts God
throwing a party because His child was lost and dead to him, and then
because of the son’s repentance, he was able to accept the Father’s love
again. The story continues by describing the Father’s house filled with “music
and dancing” because of this celebration. “This dancing in the Father’s house
was due to the salvation of his child. We must rejoice in the God of our
salvation. Salvation is the foundational reason for our dance.”[12]

People healed by Jesus’ miracles. Jesus went around ministering to masses


of people, going into towns and healing all that were sick, diseased, and hurt.
“People brought all their sick to him” (Mt.14:35)And there are many other
references that say the same (Mk.1:32; 6:15, 55, 56; 16:18; Lk.4:40; 5:15),
just to name a few. It is likely that after these people were healed they would
have continued on with their lives normally? There is no chance. They would
have been dancing! They would have been rejoicing in His goodness. These
towns would have been celebrating for days after what Jesus did. These
people were changed; being healed of leprosy, and demonic influence, they
would have never been the same. There in Acts, the crippled man healed, it
says “He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into
the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.”(Acts 3:8, 9) Now
that is worship! No fancy choirs or chorus lines, just a man praising God for
what He has done in His life and for who God is.

Now this prompts the question: is physical healing more important that
spiritual healing? All those people who Jesus healed have been dead
physically for thousands of years, even the ones Jesus raised from the dead
died again. But the one’s that experienced internal spiritual healing because
of what Jesus did on the Cross, they will live forever! Jesus said “I am the
resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”(John 11:25, 26) Is that
not reason for more celebration than just physical healing? All those who
consider themselves followers of Jesus have been saved from something that
they could never have escape on their own. The North American Church has
a reason to celebrate! And yet they are not. Is the Church so callused to the
good news that it’s not that ‘good’ anymore?

Obviously, not all these people that were healed by Jesus were
professional dancers. And yet they were dancing. So, one has to ask the
question: What are the requirements of a dancer? Someone who simply
moves? or are the requirements that of an obedient and fully surrendered
heart to the Father that steps out in His movements during worship. Someone
that desires Him, not the band, not the experience, not the status quo but
actually knowing Jesus as the ultimate goal and doing whatever it takes to get
to Him. Jesus was pleased with these types of people; the people that stood
out from the crowd. The woman who wept and kissed His feet was really out
of order considering it was someone else’s house and at a dinner.(Luke 7:38)
Or there was the woman who touched the hem of his garment and was totally
unconcerned about the crowd around her, focusing only on her need. (Mark
5:25) And there was blind Bartimaus who was loud and obnoxious, calling out
for Jesus. (Mark 10:47) And Jesus loved them all! These aren't 'dance'
passages and nor are they all 'worship' passages, but they do all show that
Jesus loves the expressive, radical, and don’t-care-what-people-think ones
among us!

Additional reminders in the New Testament that the Church is called to


worship the Lord with all that they have is found in 1 Corinthians 6:19; when
Paul tells the Christians that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and
that they should glorify God with their bodies. “He further indicates physical
movement is an approved part of prayer-like expression when he exhorts
Timothy to pray lifting up holy hands (1 Timothy 2:8). The biblical stance for
most prayers included raising arms and hands above the head (1 Timothy
2:8).”[13] As physical beings and called to worship, these passages also need
to be taken into account.

B. A powerful and effective tool of evangelism.

Dance should also be used by Godly men and women as a tool to present the
Gospel and to connect with an entertainment driven and hurting
generation. Apart from worship, dance still has a part to play within the Body
of Christ. Through the historical section of this paper it will be revealed how
dance was created as an incredible expression of beauty and power, and yet
over time, through specific events and the perversion of the enemy, dance
has become something sinful and for many people completely contradictory to
the foundations of Christianity. This is a very disappointing truth because the
people who believe that Christians shouldn’t dance, are stuck on the outward
appearances, where God looks at the heart. From this position many people
“lose their sense of compassion, become judgmental, and end up
condemning the world rather than identifying with its fallenness and bringing it
the good news of salvation as Jesus did.”[14] If the church was able to open
its eyes to the world around it and become change agent to those who are
immersed in the world’s culture and begin to creatively “reinterpret what has
been misinterpreted,”[15] the lost would see the truth in their language just as
the watching culture did in Jesus’ presence in His day; the contagious result
would be that many would come to a saving knowledge of Him. This is why
Paul didn’t quote the bible to the Athenians in Acts 17; he knew that to
persuade people, he would have to start where they were and build the bridge
to truth. So he quoted their poets, not his prophets. He said, 'For in him we
live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We
are his offspring.'(Acts 17:28) Does this mean that the church could creatively
see truth within secular songs to describe and point to the one and only true
God? This is why Jesus spoke to the masses in parables about farming,
fishing, fields and relationships, this was the context of their world and their
language, and they understood it! “Age-old experience itself teaches us that
without the fresh, invigorating blood of creativity, organizations drift and
descend relentlessly toward plodding gerontocracy, nostalgia, irrelevance,
arthritic inflexibility, senility and death.”[16] Has the Church become irrelevant
in the way it does evangelism? Brian McLaren says that the Church has “lost
our saltiness, and so, our Lord said, we are fit for nothing and should be
thrown out, to be trampled under foot by men (Matthew 5:13). The church
exists by mission as fire by burning. What good is the church if it has no salty
or enlightening effect on the world around it?”[17]

C. Warnings the bible gives. In attempts to follow the will of God there are
many who are led astray and mislead even though they believe they are in the
right. Just as Saul was zealous about God’s work of putting an end to the
blasphemous sect of Jesus followers, he soon found out that it was “Jesus,
whom [he] [was] persecuting,"(Acts 9:5). In the same way, each Christian
needs to take seriously the warnings the Bible gives about pushing personal
agendas or traditions if they are not lined up clearly with the Scriptures and to
take a humble position of desiring clear direction from the Lord.Proverbs
14:12 clearly warns, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end
it leads to death.” This must be observed by each Christian if the Church is
genuinely going to be led by God.

Missing God’s work due to personal agendas. While Jesus was here on earth,
He always seemed to be pointing out the flaws of the Pharisees. One thing
that was evident was they were quick to judge against what didn’t line up with
their rules while being slow to seeing the miracles and work of God. In John 9,
Jesus heals a man born blind by putting mud in his eyes on the Sabbath. The
Pharisees were so quick to accuse Jesus of sinning because He wasn’t
‘honoring the Sabbath’ and yet were blind to the miracle of the man being able
to see. There is a warning here for ‘spiritual leaders’ who want to control their
church with their own agendas. They may see something like dance and be
quick to call it sin while totally missing the evidence of God’s work in that
person’s life which is causing them to dance. Jesus says in John 9:39 that it is
"For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those
who see will become blind." The church had better take a more humble
position and recognize they do not know and see everything or they may
become blind to the real work of God.

There are comparisons to be made between the ‘Spiritual leaders’ of that


time and the current ‘spiritual leaders’. Jesus’ words towards the Pharisees
should never be taken lightly. The Church needs to be consciously testing the
“rules” of Christianity with the Word of God, so that today’s spiritual leaders
may never fall into the place of the Pharisees whom Jesus continually
condemned for missing the whole point of His mission. McLaren sadly states,
“Maybe we really are the Pharisees. Maybe, by some absurd twist of history,
we Christians have become the very kinds of religious people who would kill
Jesus if he showed up today.”[18] Let’s pray this not true.

Judgments on others. God warns people who look upon others with judgment
through different passages in the Bible. One specific passage that speaks of
judging another who is worshipping is the story of David and Michal. When
David danced before the Lord with all his might it says that Michal “despised
him in her heart.”(2 Samuel 6:16) And because of this judgment of someone
genuinely worshipping God, God caused her to become barren for the rest of
her life. This judgment can be compared to spiritual barrenness, “being
incapable of producing offspring or fruit; being empty, lacking, desolate;
producing inferior crops; being unproductive in results or gain; dull and
unresponsive.”[19] This is a strong warning for those who would look upon
others during worship instead of exposing their own sin before a Holy God.
This story reveals a guideline to today’s experience in worship and what is
effective and full of life versus what is ineffective and lifeless.

Coming Prepared to Worship, offering the right Worship. Many people have
the idea that God calls us to come to Him as we are and He accepts us, and
they take this attitude with worshipping. The reality is God calls all people who
are lost to come to Him as they are and repent of their sin. But where
believers are concerned, throughout the Bible, we see God creating strict
guidelines as to His specifications for worship. And there have been some
really severe consequences for those who were disobedient to those
commands. In Leviticus 10:1 “Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their
censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized
fire before the LORD, contrary to his command.” This disobedience in their act
of worship caused them to be consumed by God’s Holy fire. God is serious
when it comes to worshipping Him; He said in verse 3 shortly after the
incident, “Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight
of all the people I will be honored.” Some may say that because this occurred
in the Old Testament it does not apply to the Church today. Nahab and Abihu
were in the priesthood. Today, because of the shed blood of Jesus, we have
all become priests who are allowed to ‘come boldly unto the throne of
grace.’(Heb.4:16) Therefore, we all will be held accountable for our actions as
we worship a Holy God. Dr. Ann Stevenson states, “I believe much of the
worship existing in the Church today is not acknowledged as hallowed, for it is
not according to what God instructed; it is more in line with what seems right
to a man. We are missing the significance of honor in true worship when our
offering is limited to what we are comfortable with and have personally
decided is acceptable for God.”[20] The key is that God is looking at the heart.

Responsibility within leadership. One last warning the Bible gives is the
responsibilities held by leaders. The ability to lead and guide people is a
precious gift, but it can be used in some instances unwisely. If a pastor is
unclear about a certain topic but personally desires to preach on it from a
certain side, as if it were truth, he is clearly wrong and is manipulating
Scripture to push his personal agenda. Taking dance for example; if a pastor
feels like dance is wrong because of the connections to the world, but has no
biblical backing to support his view, he must be open to the leading of the
Spirit. By creating a bunch of rules and prohibiting that act of dance his
judgment and actions can be sin. With this mentality, Christians need to be
alert that in preaching, singing, reading, and looking at one another there can
be heart issues that lead to sin in some way. God warns teachers that “Not
many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know
that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”(James 3:1) Therefore,
teachers need to take a position of learning as well as teaching when leading
a congregation.

III. LITERATURE REVIEW

History of dance. Dance is seen everywhere around the world. It is used to


portray great joy and express extreme sorrow, and it communicates. It can
happen spontaneously or, it can be thought out and planned intricately. Dance
is the “wedding of movement to music.” [21] And it is very hard to believe that
there was ever a time before dance. There are some historians who say that
physical communication was one of the first languages that evolved into
dance, but that can only be speculation. Just as “medicine men of primitive
cultures, whose powers to invoke the assistance of gods were feared and
respected, are considered by many to be the first choreographers, or
composers of formal dances.”[22] It is impossible to know how dance first
started, but most likely God poured out His rhythm in His creation and His
children have always danced because their Father dances. We know
from John 1:3 that, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing
was made that has been made.” So God must have created dance.

Hebrew traditions. Through the study of the Hebrew culture, there is much
evidence to point to dance as being something that was a normal way of life.
Hebrew “language contains no less than eight verbs to express the idea of
dancing and many of the allusions found in the Bible point to mere
spontaneous expressions of merriment by leaping, circling, or
otherwise.”[23] The Hebrew annual calendar was packed with events and
festivals which no doubt included dancing. “At the Feast of Tabernacles, for
instance, 'pious men danced with torches in their hands and sang songs of joy
and praise, while the Levites played all sorts of instruments. The revered
tradition of community celebration found its expression through
movement.”[24] Yet these celebrations were not, as some may assume,
inappropriate to God. They were honoring to Him. The dances were done with
care, out of a position of reverence to their God. “A distinction came to be
made between the early, holy dances of a sacred nature, and those which
resembled pagan ceremonies. This distinction, made by the Israelites, was to
be made even more sharply by the Christians in the following centuries.”[25]

Early Church (100-500). Dance was not hindered in any way, as some may
think, as Jesus stepped into this world. He never showed in scripture any
inclination to stop the act of dancing (if he wasn’t dancing himself while he
was here) and, therefore, it continued as it always had, even after had
ascended. “Christians were accustomed to celebrating, in dance, at worship
and festivals because the Hebrew tradition of dance was so strong.”[26] But
change was coming. Because of the influences of the Roman Empire,
Christianity was changing, and along with that were their traditional dances.
The circumstances in the 4th Century caused change to “the importance and
meaning of dance as well as in the dance material used in Christian liturgy. In
the course of the history of theatre and dance, Christianity shaped and
proscribed new developments creating a context for new flowerings of social,
theatrical and religious dance'.”[27] Dance started to evolve into something
more than the spontaneous dancing out of an expression of worship. Because
of the influence of the arts in the world around them, Christians started using
the avenue of theater and creating plays that represented what God had done
for them. Unfortunately, the worldly influence of some of those around the
theatrical Christian performances slowly caused them to lose their ‘saltiness’
“and as the religious life of Rome became orgiastic, so the religious dances
became occasions for unbridled licentiousness and sensuality'.”[28] Because
of this downfall into immorality, Christians decided to break off from the
worldly aspect of dancing to purify the dance by ridding it from all traces of
paganism.

During the time where dance started being used in the theater, it also became
something of a structured order in worship services. “In the two earliest
Christian liturgies recorded in detail, dance is used in the order of service.
Both Justin Martyr in A.D. 150 and Hippolytus in A.D. 200 describe joyful circle
dances in the early church; dance was perceived as one of the 'heavenly joys
and part of the adoration of the divinity by the angels and by the saved” In
later writings, “there is detailed evidence of dance integrated into the ritual
and worship of the church in the writings of Hippolytus (A.D. 215) and Gregory
the Wonder-Worker (A.D. 213-270).”[29] Even with the disgrace and stain that
came from dance’ new place in the theater, it still remained precious to the
Christians in worship services; it was clear that the movement “was to bring
glory and honor to God, and take the focus off the self.”[30]

When Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 A.D., he was


instrumental in accepting and supporting the church. It was an incredible
change for the Church, from being persecuted from the Roman Empire to
“officially adopting Christianity in A.D. 378, thus ushering in a new relationship
between church and state.”[31] As Roman rule began to fall into Christian
worship services, many rules were created to avoid immorality. “Many
references to dance as part of worship in the fourth and fifth centuries are
tempered by warnings about forms of dance which were considered sinful,
dissolute and which smacked of Roman degeneracy.”[32] As the holiness of
dance was dissolving because of the outside influences of the Roman Empire,
the early church leaders desired to saved it by changing the focus of the
Christian dances to emphasizing the spiritual element within the dances “In a
sermon on Palm Sunday A.D. 367, Epiphanius (AD 315-403) he describes the
festival's celebration in the following way:

“Rejoice in the highest, Daughter of Zion! Rejoice, be glad and leap boisterously thou
all-embracing Church. For behold, once again the King approaches ... once again
perform the choral dances ... leap wildly, ye Heavens; sing Hymns, ye Angels; ye
who dwell in Zion, dance ring dances.”[33]

Clearly this section of Epiphanius’ sermon is describing both the physical


aspect of dance and the spiritual element but he is focusing more on the
latter. Other Church leaders at that time fully walked away from the physical
movement and solely regarded dance “from a singularly spiritualized
perspective, as symbolic of spiritual motions of the soul'.”[34]

At the end of the fourth century, the battle continued from different church
leaders to influence others either for or against dancing within the church.
Ambrose (AD 340-397), Bishop of Milan, tried to clarify the values and
dangers of sacred dance by emphasizing the spiritual. “The Lord bids us
dance, not merely with the circling movements of the body, but with the pious
faith in him. In the same way, Gregory of Nyssa (AD 335-394) described
Jesus as the one and only choreographer and leader of dancers on earth and
in the church.”[35] These men knew the importance of dance as a sacred act
which needed to be kept within the churches worship to God. However, other
leaders in the church began to voice their opposition to the use of dance.
“John Chrysostom (AD 345-407), in speaking of Herodias' daughter,
commented that 'where dancing is, there is the evil one' Augustine (AD 354-
430), Bishop of Hippo, warned against 'frivolous or unseemly' dances and
insisted on prayer, not dance. Caesarius of Arles (AD 470-542) condemned
dance at the vigils of saints, calling them a 'most sordid and disgraceful
act'.”[36]

As Christianity was expanding in popularity and as a state religion,


more and more converts were bringing their own pagan dances into worship
services “so that by the beginning of the sixth century, dance came under
severe condemnation in the church.”[37] With the fall of Rome in 476 A.D.,
Europe was left without a centralized power and that is where the church
stepped in as the “arbitrator of morality, law, education and social
structure.”[38] Everything was a mess at this time and with the conflicts
between the tradition of religious dancing and the moral state of the church
itself, it was hard to see the value in dance within the church going into the
Middle Ages.

Early Middle Ages (500-1100). After Rome fell in 476 A.D., the first four
centuries were marked by warfare and missionary activity. The church was
changing drastically from a community of believers to more of a judicial
institution. It held a lot of power to rule and make decisions which changed
many people’s lives. As the authority of the church grew stronger “there were
an increasing number of edicts and considerable legislation which reformed
church liturgy. The use of dance was restricted, and continually monitored as
the emphasis on the mysterious ritual of the worship service superseded the
emphasis on spontaneous celebration and praise to God.”[39] This church’s
grip of control over worship services grew tight, allowing decreasing amount
of freedom to worship. Because of these regulations in the worship service, it
became more evident that there was a growing distinction between the church
leaders and the laymen. “Latin was no longer the language of the people,
therefore knowledge of the Mass was restricted to the educated and clergy.
Choirs took over all sung parts of the Mass, thus leaving the laity to engage in
private devotions during the service.”[40] This inevitably left laymen to
become spectators in worship services—which were now called Mass—
without being able to be involved in anyway.

Dance became something that was strictly for the clergy. These
dances included the processional or ‘round dances’ usually performed on
special occasions such as Saints’ days, Christmas and Easter. There were
dances which took place only with the approval and guidance of the church,
these were known as ‘popular sacred dances’ which developed from the
connections to the festivals held in the churches history. These dances “were
performed in the church, churchyard, or surrounding countryside during
religious festivals, saints' days, weddings or funerals.”[41] As these dances
became grand celebrations it became very difficult for the church leaders to
control them “because the very nature of the dance and its occasion often
entailed spontaneous movement. The rhythmic stomping and hopping steps
sometimes caused uncontrollable ecstasy. When accompanied by feasting
and drinking, these excesses were frowned on by the church.”[42] During
these celebrations, dances were usually performed to hymns or carols. “'To
carol' means 'to dance'.’ Carol' is derived from the Latin corolla for 'ring', and
'caroller' is derived from the Latin choraula meaning ‘flute-player for chorus-
dancing’ (Oxford Dictionary). Most carols were divided into the stanza,
meaning to 'stand' or 'halt', and the chorus, which means 'dance'. Thus, during
the chorus, the people danced and unless a solo dancer performed for the
stanza, there was little movement as the stanza was sung.”[43] It would have
been quite a joyous event!

As time passed, the Church hierarchy broadened leaving an even


bigger gap between the laypeople and the clergy. This caused the clergy to
abstain from dancing with the people because dancing together symbolized
equality, although some bishops still chose to continue dancing with the
people, “a practice which threatened the developing hierarchy and so it
'hastened church legislation against all dancing'.”[44]

Later Middle Ages (1100-1400). Dance continued to be under restriction in the


medieval period. It was accepted in the liturgical form under strict guidelines,
but “gradually the sacred dance form began to shift and instead of devotional
dance, the movement became more theatrical and dramatic.”[45] This shift
was caused by the Christian authorities to arouse the congregates through
dance and songs, they desired to boost the attendance to come to the
services because of the dropping interest in the public to go to Mass. This
created a false authenticity to the dancing. “Short plays were introduced into
the liturgy to improve its appeal to the laity. By 1100, playlets made their way
into Eucharistic liturgy and became the precursor to mystery plays.”[46] The
struggle to make church appealing and also to control the negative aspects to
dance was a consistent battle for the church leaders on into further centuries.

Through the 14th and 15th centuries, the most commonly known religious
dance was the ‘Dance of Death’. The obsession with this dance reveals the
medieval people's preoccupation with death during the period of the Black
Plague (1347-1373). “The plague was a combination of the bubonic plague
and pneumonia and it raged throughout Europe killing half the population of
Europe by 1450.”[47]These dances were something the church did not agree
with in anyway and sought to prohibit them stating, “Whoever buries the dead
should do so with fear and trembling and decency. No one shall be permitted
to sing devil songs and perform games and dances which are inspired by the
devil and have been invented by the heathen'.”[48] At the same time, there
were bizarre outbreaks of dancing known as ‘Danseomania’ where “whole
communities of people ... were stricken with a kind of madness that sent them
dancing and gyrating through the streets and from village to village for days at
a time until they died in agonized exhaustion.” [49]Obviously, the cause of
these outbursts were hard to pinpoint; some suggested emotional stress from
the overwhelming calamities at the time, others traced it to poisoning from
diseased grain in rural communities, and still others accused the dancers of
being possessed by the devil. “The dance epidemics reached an intensity that
rendered ecclesiastical councils helpless in opposition to them. Despite the
church's command to cease the dance manias, the people either wouldn't or
couldn't.” [50]

With these uncontrollable strange outbursts, the church quickly put an


end to all sacred liturgical dances within services. The church began to set
regulations against dance to gain control of both in and outside the church the
chaos that was building. But with all the prohibitions against dancing it just
caused people to leave the church and dance other places. The position of
dance had come a long way from the beautiful, God-honoring expression of
worship that once was in Hebrew tradition. At this time it had become a slight
shadow of what it once was centuries earlier. Even the church dances “shifted
to the liturgy, the movement within the church became proscriptive and
functional. As the focus in popular dance shifted to the movement of the body,
rather than on the divine, it too lost the essence of the original meaning of
Christian dance.”[51] Dance had become the ‘sin’ it known for today.

Renaissance (1400-1700). After centuries of dance becoming something


uncontrollable and spontaneous, the Renaissance era was a time for
substantial change.
“In 1455 books began being printed and this encouraged an emphasis on
intellect, so that the mind was perceived of greater importance than the body
in religious growth.”[52] Dance was still valued in many ways; but the Church
sought to gain control of the uncontrollable. The places where dance realm
excelled were “processional celebrations, theatrical moral ballets and some
interpretations of hymns and psalms in worship. Theatre and spectacles were
on the rise, and with the emergence of the dancing master, the church's
liturgical dance faded in significance.”[53] Prior to the Renaissance, the
liturgical dances had become rituals; it was the popular sacred dances, which
happened outside the church, which caused the church to feel threatened
because of the spontaneity of the event. “Yet within the ensuing changes
brought by circumstances of the Renaissance, the church and civil authorities
sought to sedate, proscribe and ritualize these dances also.”[54]

Reformation (1517-1529). The journey of dance had been a long and rocky
road but it hadn’t hit its lowest point yet, “it was the Reformation, which
tended, in its extreme forms to do away with Christian dance. All dances and
processions, except funeral processions were abolished.”[55] As the extreme
leaders of the Protestant Reformation desired to reform the Church to the way
it originally was created to be, they were highly critical of tradition church
customs, including the use of icons, the worship of saints, and processions.
These leaders placed a great emphasis on the mind rather than on the body,
“the connection between the body, dance and eroticism was openly
acknowledged, and Christians were taught not to glorify the body.”[56] From
these beliefs, people became extremely bold about purifying the Church.
Their ideas began to spread rapidly through the use of the printing press; they
created tracts which were highly critical of dance. “The following excerpt is
from a booklet printed at Utrecht:

“The heathen are the inventors of dance. Those who cultivate it are generally
idolaters, epicureans, good for nothings, despicable or dishonorable comedians or
actors, as well as souteneurs, gigolos, and other dissolute, worthless, wanton
persons. Its defenders and followers are Lucian, Caligula, Herod, and similar
epicureans and atheists. With it belong gluttony, drunkenness, plays, feast days, and
heathen saints' days.”[57]

These extreme judgmental exaggerations were held by some reformers but


not all, actually the early leaders of the Protestant Reformation supported
dance in worship. People like Martin Luther (c. 1525) “wrote a carol for
children entitled From Heaven High in which two stanzas support the role of
song and dance in worship,”[58] and William Tyndale, “in a prologue to the
New Testament wrote of the roles of joyous song and dance, about the joyous
good news of Christianity.” [59] The extreme views against dance came from
misinterpreted teachings of these leaders.

The Catholic Church moved forward by seeking unity in liturgical and


theological matters, with not stressing a complete abolishment of sacred
dance. And yet, the Council of Trent stomped out the creative aspect that
involved dance and drama within the church. The outcome of the Council was
that the church insisted on liturgical unity without the use of dance in worship.
In 1566, Church leaders threatened priests and other persons with
excommunication if they led dances in churches or cemeteries. This caused
all avenues of dance to be stifled within the church or forced to become
private events. “The events of the period eventually led to the eradication of
liturgical dance, processions, and most visual arts, leaving only the arts of
painting, preaching and music unscathed.”[60] Dance was given back to the
world, and the society had their way with it. It had happened, the enemy had
won, the beautiful expression of worship through dance in the church was
dead, and yet, as this ‘religion’ demonstrates, not all things stay dead.

Modern Area- Great Awakening. As years passed, there seem to be a silence


to the Spirit of God moving. Throughout history, the Church has seen the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit in different parts of the world which have resulted
in grand revivals. These revivals include great masses of people responding
to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Responses to the Spirit include such things
as falling to the ground in repentance, speaking words of prophecy through
the Spirit, and overwhelming praise for His powerful work in their lives.
Another manifestation to the Spirit of God was the physical act of dancing.
The term ‘dance’ is hard to define at times but personal account describing
the Cane Ridge Revival depicts “shouting and heartfelt singing, hand shaking
and clapping, alter calls and dancing, “jerks” and “falling in the Spirit”—all
these extraordinary responses to God’s presence soon seemed ordinary in
the “agitations” to God’s Spirit working .”[61] Others described the ‘jerks’ and
the “diversity of such motion, including rhythmic dance.”[62]The Cane Ridge
Revival was one of many revivals around the world where God’s Spirit worked
in different ways to lead His people to worship in authentic praise and
worship. One describes;

“Shouting was praising or rejoicing in God. It was accompanied with clapping of the
hands. Shouting became a revivalistic phenomenon; added to it was the shuffling of
the feet, which was followed by running around and an occasional leap. Some
shouters would “run the aisle.”[63]

The actions and extreme celebration found in these revivals were similar to
the descriptions of the celebrations of the Hebrews thousands of years prior.
God used dance then and moved people to resume it once again after it had
been lost for so long. After the great awakenings, slowly in the twentieth
century, dance began to find its way back into the Catholic Church liturgical
renewal and acceptance within the church service again.

Today, in the protestant religion, there are denominations that couldn’t live
without dance and some that still feel like it is a sin. The history of dance
within the Church is not known to the average Christian, most are unaware of
the foundational origins which dance held within Hebrew culture, and how vital
it was to God’s people in expressing their worship to Him. Many people are
still stuck in the traditions they were told by their parents and their parents
before them, which are not Biblical, and unless something is done about it, the
full expression of worship to God will never be reached within the Church.
There is a lot of educating that needs to be done within the church to
experience all that God has for His people within worship.

IV. PROJECT NARRATIVE

A. Dancing during a worship service. In the span of researching and


writing this paper, I have learned more than I ever thought I would, and I have
gained more knowledge of dance than I ever thought I would. Along with that,
God has been teaching me to put into practice what I have been learning. The
process of coming to understanding the deep passion and excitement the
Hebrew culture had for worshipping their God, and redefining in this context
the meaning of ‘worship’ ‘praise’, and ‘rejoice’, have made me see a normal
chapel morning at Briercrest a lot differently.

There are times when I am standing in my pew, and looking up at the Cross,
and the impact of what the Lord has done for me causes me to fall to my
knees and weep.As we sing about the ‘wonderful cross’, I am once again
confronted with my sin and I am broken before Him. When the worship team
shifts to rejoicing and proclaiming our freedom because of what Jesus did on
the Cross, the beat starts my body automatically moving to the rhythm. And
then I hear His voice, whispering to my heart, ‘come and worship me with the
gift I have given you’. Although I’m naturally terrified of what others might
think, I weight up, in that moment, the options of either honoring God or
staying safe. As I step out in faith, a wonderful thing happens; the fear fades,
everyone disappears, and I am able to just dance before my God with all my
might and to feel His pleasure. Then I am reminded of Zephaniah 3:17 “…[I]
will rejoice over you with singing." And I picture God dancing over me. This
experience is not about me, or the people who are watching. It has nothing to
do with my ability to dance, or even what song is being sung. It is about a God
who desires that we worship of Him from an obedient, broken, and contrite
heart.
Current Positions held in Dance. Now, what I just described is either an
offensive or refreshing description of worship to different Christians. There are
many views on this idea of dance, either as a call to worship or as an
evangelistic tool, and in that, are many good reasons of why dance should
both be a concern and a blessing to the church. We are going to look at these
views and discuss the outcomes to these observations.

Negative Views on Dance.The people who view dancing negatively


usually see a very narrow aspect to dance and end up categorizing all dances
with that one view of dance which is truly wrong. As the Church, we have to
be able to look to the scripture and see what is right and what is wrong and
call it for what it is, without expressing our own personal opinion. Or we will
fall into “doing what is right in our own eyes” and not the Lord’s. In my
research, I have found there to be three main reasons why people have a
problem with dancing within the Church. These reasons are 1) people see it
as fake, 2) it is distracting and causes people to become uncomfortable, and
3) that it leads to sin (while some still strongly believe it is sin.) As we unpack
these issues I believe we will be able to draw out truth where it is and expose
deception as well.

Some people believe that dancing is done to draw out people’s


emotions, and therefore, they are experiencing a falseness in their own
worship and the judgment on dancing is just a cover-up for their not truly
worshipping. A lot of people are fearful of emotional worship because as soon
as it becomes ‘emotional’ it is accused of being ‘solely about feelings’ and not
genuinely authentic worship anymore. God has created us as emotional
beings and although our emotions should not lead our worship, they play a
very important part. In a response to my survey, one man said, “Today,
dancing is used in churches to attempt to move people to emotion, ostensibly,
to worship. It is a catalyst. The cart is before the horse.” Another response
was, “Too often today's church dancing is a horizontal expression, to people.”
Both of these comments came from judgments upon others dancing. Now, it is
impossible to know others’ individual motives as they worship God, but it
raises the question; are we supposed to be judging others motives in
worship? Is that our job? And are we so concerned with everyone else around
us that our distraction is the cause of our unsatisfying worship? If the
individuals in the ‘church’ spent as much time worshipping God with all their
hearts as they did judging each other during the worship time, I believe
worship would look a lot different. It would be an interesting experiment to
blindfold an entire congregation during a worship time, assuring them that no
one else could see how they are responding to God; just what would people
feel free to do? I believe we have lost the freedom to be who God has created
us to be. True spontaneity and heartfelt worship has been replaced with not
only choreographed dancing (if that is allowed), but a form of choreographed
gifts all the way to a whole choreographed service. In many of today’s
churches, the stiffness moves from the sermon, to the offering, to the singing,
to the “fellowship time” (turning around and shaking that one person’s hand,
smiling and saying ‘good morning’ and then returning to your worship), making
it all a choreographed dance without the heart.

Through the surveys I found many people complaining about how distracting
and uncomfortable dancing is within a worship service. One pastor said, “In
worship, dance can be a distraction. More often it seems to be self seeking on
the part of the dancer.” Again we see a judgment call on the motives of
individual worshippers, where that wouldn’t be a problem if that pastor was
focused on fully worshipping God. Some even goes as far to say, “Dancing in
the church is a serious stumbling block or obstacle to many Christian brothers
and sisters, as well as too many unbelievers who might be in the process of
coming to the Lord.”[64] Others describe how dance ruins the comfort of
church, saying, “People often feel threatened by change, and feel comfortable
with "routine".”[65] I am not sure God calls the Church to be ‘comfortable’, but
to be obedient. Throughout Paul’s ministry he never talks about being
comfortable but of running the race to win the prize, and of being obedient
because this is what God has called us to.

One last objection to dancing is that it is accused of leading to sin. This


thought is that in our society, most dancing occurs in bars, on disco floors, at
proms, dance clubs, social parties, weddings, etc. and, therefore, should
never be done before a holy God. The very purpose of dancing often runs
counter to God and it is true that the intent of most dancing is generally evil.
Dances are designed, by and large, as an art form to express lovemaking. For
this reason, the steps and positions are designed to bring into physical
contact those parts of a man and woman which are sexually most sensitive.
Movements are designed to be visually stimulating sexually. This is the reality
of what the world has turned dance into.

Unfortunately, many people in the church see only this style of dancing and
connect it in their minds to all types of dance. It’s like asking someone if they
want to play sports, and because this person was raised in Canada, and all
they know of ‘sports’ is hockey, they respond, “no, I can’t skate.” This is an
extremely limited view of a whole world of opportunity, and it is one that is
tainted by a lack of knowledge. This view of automatically connecting all
dancing to worldly sin is a very sad and narrow view of what dance was
intended to be. One man boldly claimed that, “God’s people should reject
anything that could cause another’s mind to lust and become guilty of sin.”
Unfortunately, with this way of thinking we would lose pastors because of
pride, worship teams because of jealousy, all youth work because of every sin
known to man! That man goes on to ask the question, “Why do Christians
wish to participate in conduct that is risky, not only to their own souls, but to
the souls of others?” I believe I would ask the question in response “Is it not
more risky to disobey God than it is to feel safe?” We have to be careful to not
allow sin to reign in our lives, but to the point of not allowing good things to
happen is like throwing the baby out with the bath water. I think it is important
for me to clarify here that any dancing in worship without the right heart that
accentuating the body in lewd and sensual movements, is certainly not Spirit-
inspired or acceptable in a worship service. That could also be a stumbling
block to others if it is fleshly and not coming from the Spirit. Stevenson claims
that “worldly dance does not reflect God’s character, and it is a perversion of
God’s original purpose for creating it.”[66]Unfortunately, many people have a
hard times seeing the good in God’s original purpose for dance because it has
been abused so much.

Positive Reasons for Dance.On the other end of the spectrum, there are many
incredible reasons for dance within the church. Many are unknown even to a
lot of dancers. God’s intention for dancing was be used as a way of
surrendering, expressing joy and worshipping Him. In the context of dancing
in worship settings, there are many things that take place, but we are just
going to look at three main reasons. When someone fully surrenders and
allows the Spirit to move them to step out in faith 1) God take pleasure in this
obedience, 2) dancing and praising the Lord brings freedom to that person,
and 3) it causes victory over the enemy’s footholds.

Out of all the reasons to dance, the greatest one is because God loves us
dancing for Him out of a pure heart. Worship is a heart issue. Out of the heart
flows expression. The Psalmist speaks about such worship in Ps 149:4: “For
the LORD takes delight in his people”. Therefore, we are to praise Him
because it pleases Him. We are unable to gain any kind of merit through our
works, our salvation is solely by grace through faith, and yet there is one thing
that we can offer to God: our praise. And because it is something so precious
to Him, wouldn’t we want to do it with all our heart, soul, mind and strength
because He is worthy to be praised?
There is something that happens when we dance. Something that is
far more than just the movement of our body or what we can see. As we
surrender in obedience to the Lord and begin to dance, there is a willingness
that takes place. This agreement with the Holy Spirit opens the doors of our
soul to become influenced by Him and sensitive to those around us. This
agreement can be demonstrated by something as simple as “tapping your
foot, bouncing your knee, drumming your hand on the table, clapping, or even
swaying to the music. These are all forms of dance. In each case, we are
physically coming into agreement with our emotions and beginning to move to
the message of the music. It is only natural for man to have this release; it’s
the way God created us.”[67] Within a discussion group, a man admitted, “I
was in a type of bondage in my worship and dancing broke it off. It took me to
a new level of freedom that I can't adequately describe. I'm not a dancer, I
have no training. I normally don't move/dance outside of where I stand. But
I'm glad I did it, just so I know that I can and I'm free in Christ to do
so.”[68] The church is functioning inadequately without the freedom to dance
within worship, just as prayer and fasting have their roles and achieve specific
outcomes; the act of dance brings freedom. Another individual describes their
experience, “I think when the church dances it gets freed. I my self have
danced and found something quite significant take place on several
occasions. As an offering to the Lord, I have found myself experience great
freedom and deliverance in my being as a result of abandoning myself before
the Lord in dance. To give God all that we are and hold nothing
back...”[69] Now the distinction needs to be clear; dance does not equal
freedom, because many people can dance and they haven’t allowed God to
work in their heart, but when someone surrenders all that they are to him and
then He calls them to step out in freedom to dance before Him, dance
becomes the avenue to experience freedom at the right time.

Finally, the last aspect to dance, and the most hidden, is that dance is
a powerful tool against the enemy. Scripture reveals many passages about
how godly people would praise God and things would happen. These
powerful weapons of spiritual warfare are not used to their potential; praise
and worship are extremely underestimated by the church. Scripture shows
that God inhabits the praises of his people and He is present when we
worship Him. This is seen in passages like Acts 16:25-26, where Paul and
Silas are in prison and they start ‘singing hymns to God’ and then an
earthquake came and ‘the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains
came loose.” This is great example of the power of praise coming against
spiritual bondage; it teaches us that through authentic worship, not only did
their chains came loose, but all the other prisoners as well!

The aspects of the way the enemy works in our lives is so contrary to
a dancing heart! He wants us to be deceived, depressed, downcast and in
bondage. But when we are surrendered and obedient to the Spirit, we are
living in truth, joyful and freedom from Satan’s bondage defines our lives.
“When we use these elements to line up with and proclaim the Word of God,
we greatly magnify, glorify, and exalt our God while doing powerfully effective
damage to the enemy.”[70] The Word of God gives great insight as to how we
are to use our feet for God’s glory. Psalms 8:6 gives the church instruction
that God has “put everything under [our] feet” and Joshua 1:3 says “I will give
you every place where you set your foot,” we can also see in Isaiah 52:7 and
Nahum 1:15, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring
good news.” The good news is that God has given us all power through the
blood of Christ to be victorious by putting the enemy under our feet. Romans
16:20 says “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” and the
author of 2 Samuel 22:38-39 says “I pursued my enemies and crushed
them…I crushed them completely, and they could not rise; they fell beneath
my feet.” And Luke 10:19 describes the power we have been given by God; “I
have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to
overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” From these
verses, we can understand why Satan has worked so hard to keep dance out
of the Church. In his quest to keep us in ignorance, he must greatly fear that
the church will receive revelation from these truths and begin to allow them to
be manifested in the church setting. He has turned dance into a sin, a
spectacle, something that is distant and only for the professionals. Looking at
the media, the two biggest shows on TV today are American Idol, and So You
Think You Can Dance. The enemy has turned the two most powerful weapons
in the spiritual realm—singing and dancing—into a competition, creating a
gap between the professionals and everyone else, allowing people to think it
is only for the best of the best, and that you dare not dance unless you do it
well. But there is a reason to dance, and it’s not for the glory of people, it is
for His pleasure. Scripture has shown us that it can also be enjoyed in the
“freedom [in which] Christ has set us free.”(Gal.5:1)

The idea of dance within the church leaves many people confused
because of the obvious contrast in what they perceive dance to be and what
they believe ‘church’ is supposed to be. One consideration in this context is
our understanding of the implications of the Incarnation, “implications which
too many people readily ignore. The theology of the Incarnation says that
God, the immaterial One, became present in this created world in a material,
tangible way. What this means for the arts is that the divine chooses to
become present through creation, through wood, stone, mortar, color, sound,
shape, form, movement and action. Christians are not Gnostics. We do not
reject the body, the material, the tangible.”[71] This is great news, and needs
to be known and received from the church.

Current Situation.Today worship dance is seen in pockets of the North


American church but the limited expression of its use, compared to the
potential of this gift and what God had originally desired, is truly unfortunate. I
don’t believe that the desire to dance is the cause of the current situation. One
worshipper shares, “I have personally felt very restricted in expressing
worship in "traditional" services, finding it hard to fully express the extent of
my love for the Lord.”[72] Why is that? Why are people unwilling to respond
fully to the call to worship? In Matthew 11:16-17 Jesus shares his
disappointment with the religious people at the time, “To what can I compare
this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling
out to others: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a
dirge and you did not mourn.’” They wouldn’t respond, they wouldn’t show any
emotion in mourning or rejoicing, sadly this seems a lot like the church today.

An inhibited and judging believer must have a different idea of what God
desires from him. If the Christian is not fully surrendered to God in his
worship, why is he worshipping Him in the first place? If we are not fully
obedient to the call of the Spirit to become undignified and foolish in the
world’s eyes, then we are placing our peers and the world before our God.
Then we may as well be worshipping the people around us because we would
be holding our peer’s worth higher than God’s. Jesus was strictly harsh on
those in John 5:40-44 who were looking around to each other for approval.
From these conclusions, one can automatically connect the status of a non-
engaging worshiper with the “lukewarm” Christian found in the letters to the
churches in Revelation. There John accuses the Church of Laodicea of being
neither hot nor cold but saying one thing and doing another. And because of
that, God will vomit them from His mouth; that choice of living is disgusting to
God. In this descriptive passage, it’s difficult to imagine that being ‘spat’ from
God’s mouth would be a satisfying participation in God’s Kingdom for anyone!
God is a jealous God, He wants all or nothing. Francis Chan in His
book Crazy Love, wrote, “God wants our best, deserves our best, and
demands our best. From the beginning of time, He has been clear that some
offerings are acceptable to Him and others are not. Just ask Cain, upon
whose offering God ‘did not look with favor.’(Gen.4.5).” [73] We seem to think
that if the scraps we bring to alter are better than the other scraps others are
giving we are ok. When in reality how many in the Church are giving scraps
because of guilt we they would feel they did not give anything? Malachi 1:8
says, “When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When
you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering
them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept
you?" says the LORD Almighty.” Scraps are not just insufficient to God, they
are evil! Chan goes even claims that, “no church is better than apathetic
worship.”[74] This is harsh words to hear, but they need to be heard for the
future of many souls.

Currently, the church has gravitated to a practical list of dos and don’ts
because it’s much easier to see and measure the ‘effectiveness’ of the
church. This is why there is such a high demand on the ‘numbers game’ within
churches; how many big is your church? How many people dedicated their
lives to God last year? How many people came to the potluck last Saturday?
Leaders feel like they need to measure their success by numbers? But this is
not the way God works. God asks the harder questions like; are being envious
right now? Do you love your neighbor? Are lusting? John Fischer puts it this
way; “As soon as the Christian life becomes self-attainable, it ceases to
require faith and loses its seasoning of humility and grace. We’ve exchanged
a far more involved and demanding set of directives for a simpler, more
obvious package.”[75] Churches have become numb, people understand that
they can get away with deception at church because no one else wants to be
found out either, everyone is easy on one another, everyone is hiding and it
starts from the top down. This is wrong, we as the Body of Christ need to be
stepping into the roles that we are called to as followers of Christ and holding
ourselves to a higher standard. Here we must be willing to call our brothers
and sisters, out of love, on different sins in their lives so that we can all push
each other to a place of holy living for the Glory of the Father. What is really
telling is that living in ‘bubbles of Christianity’ and hiding from the world
doesn’t protect us from sin…because sin doesn’t come from the world, it
comes from within us! A pure environment doesn’t produce pure people.
Avoiding movies, burning records, staying away from dances, or turning off
the radio does not in and of itself make anyone spiritually strong. In fact, these
actually tend to produce the opposite effect, developing fragile Christians who
must live in a controlled, censored environment. Fischer says that “The most
disturbing thing about all that we say to each other in the Christian world
today is that no one is disturbing anyone.”[76] Jesus prayed to the Father that
He would not take us out of the world but to deliver us from the evil one (John
17:15), to give us strength and power as we walk into the world and do
exactly what Jesus did. This prayer is such a contrast to the way the Christian
church is affecting the modern world today.

Desired dance in the Church. In a perfect world, the worship we offer to God
would look a lot different. So, what are the reasons that are stopping us from
experiencing that full worship that God wants us to fulfill? We have to ask the
question ‘why do so few people genuinely find real joy and pleasure in their
relationship with God?’ Our worship begins with all God has done for us, and
continues with our response back to Him. It invades all parts of our lives, not
only what we do in our Sunday morning service. In our rooms, as we wake up,
we either choose to surrender everything to Him, die to ourselves, and allow
Him to indwell us for a day of abundance, or we choose to remain in control,
steering each aspect of our day and trying our best for Him. The real problem
of evil is inside of us, not on our walls or coming out of our stereos, but
coming from within our very natures. “The purifying process must begin in the
heart and mind.”[77] The bible says, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to
those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. Titus 1:15 God
works from the inside out, not the outside in. Our concern shouldn’t be so
much with what we are doing but who we are becoming, and lining that up
with what God has called us to; being a lover of Him and of people. The
comforting truth is that the Holy Spirit is busily ‘working in us both to will and
do His good pleasure’ (Phil.2:13, Heb. 13:21) As we are taking these steps of
renewing our minds, this “not only involves the necessary process of
rebuilding truth, but there is an exposing and tearing down of false
understanding that is just as important.”[78] Dance is an automatic outflow of
the goodness that God is doing within our lives in returning us to the garden. If
we are being renewed to character of Jesus we will have so much joy and
revelation that dancing will come abundantly. The problem comes when
people see the dance and focus on the physical over the internal workings of
the Spirit. Dr. Ann Stevenson sees dance so clearly, she says, “Dance is a
mysterious and glorious gift, full of untapped spiritual treasures. Birthed from
the Father’s heart, dance has been fashioned for a purpose yet it has not
been discovered by most. Dance, as we have known it, is a beautiful art form
that can pierce the heart, convict, and convince either for good or
evil.”[79] One day the church will see this beautiful gift and praise their Father
in heaven the way He intended.

It is unlikely that dancing in church will be widely accepted any time


soon, but God is moving in the midst of the controversy, and just as Paul’s
wise teacher Gamaliel said in Acts 5:38-39, “if their purpose or activity is of
human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these
men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” With this perspective,
and knowing that dance was given by God to His people, we must let God be
our defense in respect to worship dance, and just wait for Him to act in His
timing. Those desiring to dance within worship services may assume their
calling applies to everyone, but that is not necessarily correct. In fact, with that
misunderstanding, they too may too be at risk of judging. It is unlikely that
God will lead an entire congregation to express their hearts this way. Just as
certain ones are called to play an instrument, some are able and are called to
dance. God desires people to interact with Him as they worship, dialoguing
about sin in their lives, confession, and letting go of judgment of others. In
individuals account, she said, “While I do not deny that at first someone
dancing caught my attention, when I prayed about it God told me that
was my problem. I wasn't putting my focus in the right spot.”[80] This is the
attitude of grace that God asks us to have with our fellow believers in our
shared worship of Him, “The 'audience' or 'consumer' of the worship service is
Jesus, not us.”[81] We will have to constantly fight the cultural temptation to
see a worship expression as only from my way, my space, and my
relationship with God…when it’s really not about us. I believe that this
generation is slowly getting a minuscule glimpse of that truth, John 4:23 says,
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will
worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the
Father seeks.” Shane Claiborne is a man who understands the reality that it’s
not about him, and he has given everything up and found that life is a lot more
than money and stuff. He says “There is a movement bubbling up that goes
beyond cynicism and celebrates a new way of living, a generation that stops
complaining about the church it sees and becomes the church it dreams of. It
is a contagious revolution that dances, laughs and loves.”[82] We can only
pray that God would continue to move His spirit to break down hearts and
allow this generation to turn from control to full surrender.

Worship Currently.Apart from dancing, worship has become somewhat of a


cultural salad bar; where in, each church takes what they want to have in their
worship service and caters to their own personal preferences, somewhat like
a ‘my worship’ offering. Stevenson challenges this generation by presenting
the statement that, “If we, as the Body of Christ worldwide, were to honestly
compare the order and traditions of our weekly church service against the
expressed desires and commandments of God, a vast number of us would
have to admit that we have rejected the commandments of God in order to
keep our own traditions.”[83] This is a very scary reality, and this truth needs
to be known and challenged in all areas of the Body of Christ worldwide. The
reason this is so frightening is that when the Church allows the power of
man’s traditions to sneak into our worship service, those traditions become
one of God’s greatest enemies, and His commands and desires are squeezed
out. And satan loves it!

Worship Worldwide.Today, away from the inhibitions and traditions of our


culture, there are parts of the world where such worship takes place. In the
small islands off the coast of Australia, Samoan worshipers sing and sway,
seemingly floating, “in a slightly shuffle without lifting their feet from the
ground.”[84] In their service there are many choreographed dances that are
crucial part of their worship. There, it seems that much of their worship is
expressed through dance. These dances include; an introduction dance for
the service to start, a dance to invite the Holy Spirit to come and enlighten the
congregation, a dance during the gift procession, as a roasted pig, bread and
wine is danced down the main aisle for the feast after the service, a woman’s
dance around the alter, and even a dance during the Lord’s Prayer, they
continue on and dance an Alleluia communion meditation, and close the
service with a song reinforcing the theme of the Spirit.

The spirit of God will lead people to worship Him all around the world, but it
can only happen when an individual is willing to humble themselves and be
obedient. It is ironic that the ‘mission church’ seems more open to liturgical
creativity than the church in North America. “The concern shifts from getting
the liturgy “right” to letting the liturgy speak freely in the local language
through words, symbols and dance. The church dares to celebrate with the
full body – reverent, holy, and festive.”[85] May the North American Church
have their eyes opened to how truly rich those third world countries are and
how truly we “are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”(Rev.3:17) Only
then we will be able to lose our pride and step out in freedom.

Biblical Worship as it is meant to be.It is impossible to see all that God intends
for worship to be, but as we look into the scriptures and allow the Spirit to
guide our steps we can determine a few key points in which the worshipper
will step past the ritualistic routine and experience freedom. The goal should
not be to merely experience or know about God, what is key is that we want
Him. From that desire there is the out flow of genuine worship. There is an
urgency that needs to be present; just like the man who found the treasure
hidden in the field, are we not willing to go and sell all that we have and do
whatever it takes to get to God in our worship? Robert Webber says that this,
“Renewed worship is worship in which God breaks into our daily lives with his
transforming power. It is worship that allows God to break through the walls
we have built that keep him out of our worship. This kind of worship allows
God to enter our lives and give us direction and healing.”[86] But there are
certain things that need to take place in our hearts before that worship can
take place.

Full Surrender. God desires for the Church to experience Him in the most
powerful and intimate way and He knows this can only happen when we as
individuals are fully surrendering to Him. Revelations 3:20 says, “Here I am! I
stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I
will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” James 4:8 goes on to say,
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” Before anything, God
wants us; He desires to restore the worshipper before the worshipping. This
complete abandonment of self has to take place before one is able to walk
into freedom. God tells us that we can not serve two masters, so we can’t
assume to be in control of our own lives while fully serving Him. Fully
surrendering to the Lord in our worship “creates a unifying or consummation
of spirit between man and God. Expression without true emotion is empty, and
emotion without any form of expression is frustrating, unnatural, and even
reflects bondage.”[87] There has to be the combination of the two in the right
order. Once there is a breakthrough and the Church as a whole is able to let
go of the grip of being in control, and fully surrender to God within worship,
then and only then “we will finally realize that safety has nothing to do with
locks, that security has nothing to do with fences, that joy has nothing to do
with the absence of pain, and that peace has nothing to do with comfort.”[88]

Humility. The very act of fully surrendering requires there comes an aspect of
humbling ourselves and realizing our place before a Holy God. People who
can face and embrace their own inadequacy are the ones who are truly on the
road to freedom and confidence. Why did King David remove his royal clothes
before he danced before the Lord? Because he knew he had nothing to hide
from God, and he danced before God transparent and vulnerable. “This is true
godly confidence, a trust that takes us beyond ourselves, a naked
confidence.”[89] We are told in Phil 2:6-9 that Jesus also laid aside his divine power
and independence when “… being in the form of God…He humbled himself and
became obedient unto death” His walk on this earth was marked by extraordinary
humility and dependency upon His Father to meet His every need. In verse 5 we are
urged to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” In fully
surrendering, our new security is then found in Christ alone not by what others
think of us. This is not a comfortable place to be, but then who ever said the
Christian life was going to be comfortable?

Freedom. Through fully surrendering and humbling ourselves, we are able to


experience true freedom. But this freedom is by no means free; “freedom is
something that must be fought for. For mankind, the value of freedom has
been directly connected with the high price of death.”[90]And in our freedom,
we need to come to the understanding of what the high cost was for Christ on
the Cross. This also gives us more reason to celebrate. This celebration takes
many forms, “on some occasions to an awe-filled silence and at other times to
laughter, loud shouting, clapping and dancing in the aisles and around the
table of the Lord.”[91] Whatever form it takes, God loves extreme worship, the
best kind, the highest quality, worship that reaches high above the normal, but
this “worship does not necessarily mean dancing with all your might. But it
does mean blessing the Lord with all that is within you.”[92] May a new
understanding of this process bring more clarity to the verseJohn 8:32“Then
you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” May we be free!

B. Dance as an Evangelism tool. Within the Church, dance is an incredible gift


that God has given us to worship Him. But because of the passions and
interests of this present generation, dance can also speak a heart language,
outside the church, in a unique and powerful way. As dance has really been
brought into the spot light and the professionals have distanced themselves
from those average people ‘who don’t dance’, an amazingly creative
opportunity has risen among a few courageous Christians—willing to deal with
the opposition—who see the power in a ministry involving dance in this
generation.

One of the trademarks of this generation is that they have everything they
want, and yet are never satisfied. Their relationships are shallow because
they can’t trust anyone and everything has become distant through their
computer screen, ipods or cellphones. Larry King says, “We’ve made
tremendous advances in technology. We can communicate with each other
more quickly and in more ways then ever before…but we are lonelier then
ever before.”[93] Because of the high pace lifestyles, the constant desire for
more, causes work to becomes a god, relationships are hindered, divorce is a
normal way of life, and the youth of this generation have quickly learned that
broken promises are normal so ‘don’t get your hopes up’. Dawson McAllister
in his book, Saving the Millennial Generation says, “Students today are slower
to trust than ever in our memories. To put it another way, these students are
more analytical and skeptical of conventional truth—and the people who try to
communicate that truth—than any students we’ve ever seen.”[94] This lack of
trust is the significant issue of this generation. It shapes how they relate to
authority, how they perceive truth, and what direction they have—or don’t
have—for their lives.

This is where dance comes in. As a student, unable to trust, comes to a


workshop or a show involving dance, she will listen, watch, and participate
because it is so highly glamorized from the world. The seeking soul, therefore,
will watch a presentation intended to show God’s eternal searching love for
her. And if that dance is used in a God-honoring way and points to Him, she
may listen and watch, possibly for the first time, as believers point to God
through the shared languages of dance.

Because of the vulnerability and transparency of dance the dancer is placing


himself in front of people to judge, accept or reject, and, by its nature, allowing
those watching to enter into his story and, in the act, trusting his audience with
his performance. So, as a student watches a dancer, she will connect with him
because of that vulnerability and feel like the dancer knows her in a way, even
though he usually be unaware. And because that dancer was willing to be
transparent before her, that student is potentially able to open up after the
performance and trust that person with her story. The Holy Spirit often uses
these opportunities for more traditional evangelism settings to follow. But the
dance was the key in the lock! It was the shared language bringing two
cultures together.

Established Christian’s need to wrestle with the spiritual reality that there is
nothing evil about the concept of dance in and of itself and there never has
been; the only potential evil is in the execution and interpretation of it. There
are pockets of dance ministry happening all around the world. In Southern
California a ministry is happening with students and we are told that, “Not only
has the dance team been hugely inspirational to our congregation and other
district churches, it has helped many of the kids come out of their shells, open
up about their thoughts and spiritual lives, and grow closer to God.”[95] This is
exciting, and a believer doesn’t have to like dancing to get excited about youth
coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ! If dancing is a stumbling block,
for a fellow Christian, from celebrating a new life coming into the kingdom, I
would challenge him to rethink his motives. The Bible asserts, ‘The spiritual
man makes judgments about all things’ (1 Cor.2:15). It declares that a mature
man discerns good from evil (Heb.5:14) and that real purity isn’t so much an
external matter as it is an internal one. Therefore, dance doesn’t cause an
observer to sin by judging it springs from the hypocrisy within the individual’s
own heart. And, likewise, the dance is not sin either, but the Lord, resulting
dance that is done in a sexual or self-exalting and prideful manner. So we can
conclude that dancing in the church is not sin, but that both self centered
performances and the judgment of those dancing in freedom is the true sin, in
either case sins all start inside and are expressed by our actions. Jesus
exhorts us to not judge one another and assures us that it is His responsibility
to sort it all out in the end. Our responsibility is to keep our eyes and hearts
fixed upon Him. Romans 12 Speaks about our presenting our bodies to Him
as a living sacrifice, then it speaks about the varieties of gifts given to the
church. Then in verse 18 it urges us that “as much as it lies within us we are
to be at peace with all men”. A couple of chapters later, in Romans 14:12-18,
Paul addresses a judging Christian as the weaker brother. We as ministers of
the gospel have to weigh up how much we must accommodate a fellow
Christian’s weakness. Then, having done our part to heal any
misunderstanding, it maybe best for him to worship somewhere else if after
efforts at reconciliation he cannot make peace with himself and those who
offend him. Verse 18 reminds us that we as dancers must make every effort
that … “in these things we serve Christ and are acceptable to God, and
approved of (by) men”.

We are called to be missional people. “Jesus never says to the poor,


‘Come find the church,’ but he says to those of us in the church, ‘Go into the
world and find the poor, hungry, homeless, and imprisoned,’.”[96] This is our
command. Young, hurting, cynical and skeptical young people of this
generation will have a hard time responding, especially to our message, if
they feel we have an agenda and if we are not speaking their language. And
through their language of dance they will listen, and they will respond; then it
is what we do with the response that matters.

C. Practical Application.Knowing God does call the Body of Christ to dance for
Him in worship, and that He has “given us the ministry of reconciliation”
(2Corinthians 5:18) we can move ahead in our creative gifts and use
something like dance—which needs to be reconciled to the church again—as
a tool to connect with teenagers and point them to Christ. This is something
that I have been apart of for the last 5 years. Refined/Undignified is a dance
ministry team which uses all types of dance to present a message of hope
through Jesus Christ. I believe this needs to be seen in churches more often,
and I am going to present a structure for churches, youth groups or lovers of
God who want to begin a ministry to reach the lost through dance. Found in
Appendix A.

V. CONCLUSION

Dance, in and of it self, is not the issue that the church should be addressing
or even desiring. There is no power in a person physically dancing in the front
of the church during a service without the prompting of the Spirit, anymore
than a preacher preaching, or a worship leader leading without the guidance
of the Holy Spirit guiding direction him. The issue that needs to be addressed
and desired in a church body, is a willingness and obedience to the call of the
Spirit of God in worship; if He is prompting an individual to raise their hands to
Him, kneel before Him, or dance to Him, the body of Christ should be unified
and obedient to respect that call no matter how individuals within the group
feel. The enemy, Satan, will never prompt a believer to authentically praise
God, but will be happy to whisper reasons why not to. And if a church
congregation has deemed dance unacceptable, and is full of judgment that
does not allow participation in this act of praise, they are, in fact, offering
themselves to the enemy as agents of division and are participating in
quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit. “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire”
(1Thess.5:19). Seeing the act of dancing to God as solely a worldly activity, is
to be stuck on outward appearance and rules from man’s traditions, and is
missing the miracle and workings of God’s Spirit in an individual’s life and
within the body of Christ. This is just how the Pharisees were in the ninth
chapter of the gospel of John: so focused on how Jesus broke their traditions
—the rules that they had made—that they missed out on God’s miracle of
giving sight to man that was blind his whole life. When in reality, the Pharisees
were the ones that were blinded to the truth of God’s miracle, because they
were so focused on their own agendas. As so often is the case, a need to be
in control is what drove them, even if it was over something as small as Jesus
spitting on the ground and making some mud to put on a poor blind man’s
eyes. They picked on Him for breaking the Sabbath, and breaking 3 different
rules that they had created: plowing the ground(from the spit moving soil),
tilling the ground(from making mud), anointing someone’s eyes(from the
mud). Such extremes seem so foolish to the common Christian now, but is the
church really that much farther from the heart condition of the Pharisees were
at that time? Hopefully, the Church today is not so stuck in her traditions of
creating rules in the hopes of not falling in to sin that she actually ends up
prohibiting God’s work. “Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this
world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."(John
9:39)”. Spiritual sight is much more important that physical sight

I believe that God has created dancing for His worship, and I believe that it
has been taken by the enemy and abused. I hope that in this paper, I have
identified God’s true desire for dance within the Body of Christ, and have
shined some light on a dark area in the Church’s present and history. We
don’t need more ‘Christian songs’, ‘Christian bands’, or ‘Christian actors’,
doing poor replicas of secular originals. What we need are Christians who are
in the bands and acting in the world, and who are writing songs that are God-
breathed, with Christ shining through them into the darkness. In the same
way, we need Christians who are willing to dance in the world and let the light
of Christ shine through them.
As we boldly move forward in obedience to God’s will, He has to be our
defense. We can feel equipped with an accurate knowledge of the past; of
God’s dealings with the Hebrew culture and of the beauty that came from their
holy, God-honoring dances. Understanding the reality and history of the
church and how the enemy has slowly deceived, corrupted, and almost
destroyed the gift of spiritual dances, gives us hope for what is possible. And
we can be excited in holding onto the knowledge that God dances over
us,and that its possible to know dance as God originally intended it. I really
believe that it will be restored to the Church some day. “Its restoration cannot
be overthrown by skepticism, judgmentalism, fear, or the traditions of man.
Anyone who actively opposes this move of God will be found fighting against
God Himself.”[97] We can trust Him and walk forward in that truth anticipating
what He will do with His Bride in the future. May we, in fear and humility,
desire God’s will—nothing less, nothing more.

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