Monday, July 30, 2012

How to Start a Liturgical Dance Ministry at Your Church

Liturgical Dancer in blue turning. Copyright 2008 Katina Davenport
Starting a liturgical dance ministry is an awesome mandate. It is one that is not to be taken lightly. With much prayer and resources you can build a liturgical dance ministry that brings glory to God and that is highly successful.

To begin a dance ministry you must have a passion to give your gift of dance to the Lord. It is He that gave you the gift of dance. James 1:17 says "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." This is the foundation of beginning a liturgical dance ministry. In order to be able to fully give yourself to a ministry or even a commitment you must have a passion for it. You must know that starting a dance ministry is right for you. You will be able to articulate and teach liturgical dance from your heart.

Biblical Foundation of Dance


If you desire to begin a dance ministry in your church, you should have permission from your Pastor or leader of your church. Unfortunately, liturgical (praise) dance is not accepted in every church.  So, you will need to know if you are able to begin a liturgical dance ministry in your church. If it is permitted, you will need to know where to find Biblical scriptures on dance. This is important so that your dancers will have a Biblical foundation of dance. Here are few scriptures on dance.

Jeremiah 31:13 (NLT)
The young women will dance for joy, and the men--old and young--will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.

Psalms 149:3
Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp.

Psalms 150:4
Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes!

Exodus 15:20
Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced.

2 Samuel 6:14 (NIV)
David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, (NIV)

1 Chronicles 15:29 (NIV)
As the ark of the covenant of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David dancing and celebrating, she despised him in her heart. 



Rehearsal and Training Times 


If your Pastor or church leader has given you permission to move forward with a dance ministry, it is important to find a convenient time to start rehearsals and dance training that is suitable for your church. An allotted time of two hours is sufficient time for these activities. One portion should be dedicated to dance training and the other to rehearsal for choreography. Always note that you will need extra time to rehearse choreography for a service on Sunday or a special church event. Schedule those times accordingly.



Basic Dance Technique


Now that you are establishing a liturgical dance ministry it is important to begin teaching basic dance techniques. Technique in ballet, modern, or jazz will help prepare your body and the body of your dancers for dance ministry. It will help them connect with their body so that they will know how far their body can stretch. Injury prevention is the key. It is the main reason that basic dance technique will help your dance ministry. If you are not technically trained in dance, then taking dance classes as a dance ministry leader will help you pass the knowledge you've gained on to your dance ministry. Having basic dance technique will help you build your choreography as well.



Liturgical Dance Garments



Liturgical dance garments is  perhaps one of the more exciting elements of liturgical dance. Often, you will see beautiful, yet modest garments worn by very anointed dance ministries and wonder where they purchased them. As a liturgical dance leader you should know that liturgical dance garments are not always cheap; that is with any dance garment. Because these items are special made there may be a small selection available. You may want to try searching for a seamstresses that knows how to make quality clothing, and would be willing to help make a few dance garments for a low cost. If you are unable to find a seamstress here are a few of my favorite places to buy liturgical dance garments. 

Dance Fashion Wear House 
Spiritual Expressions




Worship Flags, Banners, and Streamers


This is also one the more exciting parts in dance ministry. Worship flags are used as a tool to add beauty to dances, and are an expression of glory to the Heavenly Father. It can be used as a captivating visual aid as a banner of HALLELUJAH  is waved or GLORY. I like to call the use of worship flags, banners, and streamers the visual wind of God. Because wind is not seen with the naked eye, you can see the effects of wind. The same is true when flags are waved. It creates the movement and the sound of wind. 

You can find the lowest cost for flags at eBay. Other sites like Esty offers great worship flags that are not too high in price. 



Workshops and Conferences



Hosting or attending liturgical dance workshops and conferences can greatly augment your dance ministry. Workshops are designed as a master class. In the world of dance there are opportunities for dancers to learn choreography or other techniques from professional dancers and instructors. These opportunities provides inspiration and training that would not be available to them on a normal basis. I have had the opportunity to take master classes from professional dancers that provided tips on how to jump higher. I even learned some new dance moves. 

Conferences are a great way for dance ministries to connect with one another. Because there are so many dance ministries around the world, there may be very few opportunities for them to share with one another. Going to conferences or hosting one will certainly create a stronger sense of liturgical dance ministry community. You will enjoy discovering valuable resources and opportunities to fellowship with other dancers. This is not a requirement for dance ministry, but it is a great resource for learning. To find out more about conferences you can connect with these ministries (I am not affiliated with any of these, but they are a great resource.) 

National Liturgical Dance Network 
International Christian Dance Fellowship
Dancing Preachers International


Dance Ministry Essentials


Here are picks of essentials that you will need to begin your dance ministry:


  • Curriculum- This will include what you will teach, a course outline, and training materials.
  • Rehearsal Space- Fellowship hall or sanctuary, or another place such as a home, gym, or studio. 
  • Funding- Starting a dance ministry may cost a little money. You may want to have fundraisers to offset fees for garments, classes, guest instructors, or for any needs of the dance ministry. Don't despise small beginnings. 
  • Praise dance wear- These can be purchased in bulk or individually. You will need neutral colored tights (footed or convertible to footless), dresses, skirts, leotards, and palazzo pants. For shoes you will need a ballet shoes, pedini shoe, or foot thong depending on your desire as a dance ministry leader or what is permissible at your church. 
  • Banners
  • Training Materials- These resources can be found in various liturgical dance books and videos. 

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© 2012 Katina Davenport all rights reserved 




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