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Dancing in Church, a History

The words “dance” and “ministry” may seem like an odd combination to those who are unfamiliar, but worship dance is a practice that predates Christianity. Though controversial, this type of worship has come back in recent years to churches around the world. The roots, rejection and eventual resurgence of dance ministry are all important parts of its history. Early Church Dance Before the fall of the Roman empire, Christians commonly danced in celebration and worship. However, the practice started to dwindle around that time. Roman Catholic clergy would lead Mass where worshippers would sit quietly and watch. Dancing was reserved for weddings and festivals. Ring dancing, as well as tripudium, or “three step dance,” occurred in churches and on the streets on days of celebration. Rejection of Dance Some reformation leaders, like Martin Luther and William Tyndale, viewed dance as a great way to express praise to God. More radical leaders believed in a puritanical approach, banning arts and dance altogether. With some Christians using worshipful dance in a sensual manner, puritanical leaders thought it best to ban the practice altogether. Music returned to churches, but dance and other arts stayed out of churches for centuries. To this day, many churches still do not see dance as a relevant way to worship, some considering it offensive. Origins of Worship Dance Early churches originated in Judaism and carried over some of its practices, including dance. Circle dancing and a leaping style of dance dominated during this time, just as they had in synagogues. For Christians, these dances were done to celebrate Jesus as the Messiah. Many festivals throughout the year included ceremonial dancing. The New Testament even mentions dancing multiple times, including a reference to God dancing over His people. Dance Ministry Today Within the past 50 years, dance ministry has returned as a form of worship. Some churches gather dance troupes in front of the church. Members of these groups serve God by using their bodies to showcase His message. In other churches, the whole congregation, moved by the Holy Spirit, dances to music played by an accompanist. In many churches around the world, dancing is an integral part of the Sunday service. Worship or liturgical dance is not practiced universally, but those who serve through dance ministry do so with passion. At Star Line Baton, we encourage worship through dance and offer an array of dance ministry products. If you have any questions or need more information, call us at 931-528-7829.

Posted: 12/23/2020

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