The Power and Purpose of Praise Dance by Sabrina Christine WoodsDance, throughout history, has been an integral part of various cultures, peoples, nations and celebrations. Praise Dance, as a ministry vehicle, is not just dance (by societal definitions) to a specific genre of music. It is not for a set group of persons who studied under a certain dancer or dance style. Nor is it for those who have the most technical abilities or the ability to remember and execute a series of movements on beat and in rhythm. Praise dance, as a ministry grace, is simply an expression of movement used to communicate with God and to communicate Gods heart to His people. It is the sight of Gods message. It communicates the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that may not be received or understood through the hearing of the Gospel. Praise Dance is used to praise, pray, preach, teach, evangelize, prophesy, minister, heal and set the atmosphere to bring forth signs, wonders and miracles. Praise Dance, as a ministry grace, is ministry of Gods Word through movement.
The problem with praise dancing
A couple of weeks ago I did a column where I questioned the origins of "praise dancing. But when black people started having their own beauty pageants and contestants didn't have a true talent, then they would do an interpretive dance. That same interpretive dance has now made its way into a lot of churches under the guise of "Praise Dancing. For me it equates to those who weren't talented enough to make the cheerleading squad, so they became members of the pom-pon team. Both cheer at the game. But while one is deserving of your attention, the other can happen or not happen and many won't notice the difference.
We have all been given different talents, gifts, abilities. God works in different ways through each of us, and we all serve him faithfully as we use our gifts to glorify him. We should invest the gifts that God has blessed us with wisely. We should use our gifts and abilities to honor God and to bless, encourage and strengthen others in love without love, all our gifts are nothing! Dance is used as an act of worship in Scripture and can continue to be used in that way today. Dance Ministry was created with the purpose to minister to the body of Christ through praise, worship and dance.
Seeing how I am a little of a smarty pant, I turned to my wife and suggested that we go dancing after church. Later in my Christian life, I encountered where Pentecostals would have an experience that they called dancing in the Spirit. Dancing has been stigmatized in the church as something that is worldly or carnal, or it has been hyper-spiritualized to the point that it is only allowed if you are somehow taken over by the Spirit of God, and it is not you that is dancing. Psalm Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. Psalm Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Dance is a word used to describe one of the most basic ways humans express feelings and faith through body movement. Dance is said to be our oldest art form. Every culture throughout history has used dance to express religious faith and to celebrate important events in life -- birth, death, healing, natural phenomena. Sacred dance includes individual forms private meditation and liturgical forms within a communal liturgical framework. Liturgical dance has as its purpose the deepening and focusing of the worship experience; it is not merely ornamental or decorative.
To understand the meaning of praise dance, start by just watching it: The whirl of fabric and motion, the uplifted arms and the storytelling gestures communicate emotions of joy and gratitude. Just like song, praise dance is an alternative to words to express experiences of God, testify and pray. Dance attracts many people as a form of expression. But praise dance differs from secular dance in that praise dancers dedicate their movement to God, and treat dance as a way to express love for God. Dancers urge each other not to focus on dance as performance, which can be a distraction from the spiritual, but as worship. Because dance expresses emotion physically, it allows dancers to unite the body and spirit.