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Monday, June 25, 2012

Spiritual Dance: Edification vs Entertainment

Continuing our series about reconciled worship, please welcome back guest blogger, Brittany Browne! Brittany is a freelance writer with Columbus Messenger, and owner of Sapphire Communications, LLC.

Dance has always been a major part of my life. When I was younger, I remember expressing my desire to become one of the world’s greatest choreographers. I was, and still to this day am intrigued by ballet, river dancing, liturgical dance, samba, cha-cha, rumba, mime and other forms of dance from other traditions and cultural backgrounds.

Today, my career path is far from anything that is associated with dance, but dance remains a hobby, a passion, and a communication source that gives life to my spirituality every time I embrace it. There is an immeasurable inspiration that is communicated through varieties of dance, especially in the form of worship, and how it can be a message magnified for the glory of God’s kingdom.

At our very best, as believers we are open to a worship style that is not strategically stagnant in the same style of communication. But too often, we fall into a redundant comfort zone and cease to branch out because of our own insecurities, which in return affects our opportunity to receive the full message of Christ. This is where I am convinced that allowing a multi-faceted worship style that includes spiritual dance, liturgical dance, praise dance, and the like, opens doors for a much richer spiritual message in our time of worship.
Lucinda Coleman, a scholar who has studied praise dance in the Church said, “To worship God in dance is biblical.” Allowing dance in general to be a part of praise and worship is not always welcomed and theological scholars have at times deemed it as being inappropriate. But, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us to honor God with our body; so to use our body in connection with a message that mirrors the Christian walk, can not be inappropriate by any means.

In my opinion, spiritual dance in all styles is indeed a necessary form of worship, if it satisfies three things:

1. Cultivates relationships.
This is a spirit led reward that is received as a symbol that God was in the midst of the style of dance that was ministered. It cultivates the relationship between God and the community receiving it, as well as the servant who is serving through their ministry of dance. It bridges the gaps of multi-cultural worship by allowing movement and the spirit to impart a message beyond words alone. It creates imagery that brings us to a sense of gratitude, and congers memories that an individual can identify with for that particular moment.
2. Is used for edification and not entertainment.
The opportunity to dance for Christ is a gift, not a given. It should not be used for entertainment purposes, as that will only impede the wrong type of attention and focus. When the focus is on an individual, other prejudices cloud the mindset, bringing it to a state of worship that will not edify.
3. Mirrors the message of the Messiah.
Through dance the message can be mirrored without words sometimes better than it can be mirrored with words. It was St. Francis Assisi who said, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” Dance shows others that we do not always have to utilize our words to bring someone to Christ, or show them that we are Christian. It shows that kindness, a genuine spirit and a relationship with Christ seep through a person in other ways that we do not often recognize.
So, whether it is praise dance, gospel dance, liturgical dance, or dance to a Christian hip-hop song that you never heard of, the message to be received is not dependent on one’s comfortability. It is not dependant on one’s personal beliefs about the person that is delivering the message and is certainly not dependent on entertainment without some sort of edification. Spiritual dance is a ministry in itself and should be used for the edification of the body of believers. It is a spiritual connector that edifies not only the receivers but the giver of the gift as well. It opens us up to the magnitude of God and diverse ways of communicating. When we attempt to omit this particular style of worship, and those three core things that should be associated with it, we have diminished the full beauty of God’s message in multiple ways.

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  1. Yay Brittany! Great article!

    Edification not entertainment - the same could be said for music in worship too.

  2. Many cultures have different was of expressing worship to God. It is important that we allow freedom of worship from everyone in the Body of Christ. I welcome the opportunity to learn how other cultures express their love for God in dance.

  3. Do you dance? Does your church feature dance as part of worship? in what way?


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