When I was struggling with an infected tooth last week my friend Amanda Bateman from Scotland called me on the phone to encourage me. Amongst other things she told me I needed to watch Martin Smith’s video Back to the Start. So I did. And as I watched, I found my spirit rising. I watched it a number of times. The ending especially stood out for me – as person after person join in a simple dance together. If you’ve not seen it, here it is:
Little did I know that Martyn Smith would be one of the worship leaders at the brilliant HTB Leadership Conference I attended on Monday and Tuesday this week at the Royal Albert Hall – and the song was sung a number of times at the conference – helping us celebrate the mighty, powerful God who calls us back to him.
The song makes you want to dance. To party. To let go in his presence and, along with others, to revel in his goodness. And that’s what we began to do at the conference. As well as singing we began to dance. It felt to me like we were starting to become a dancing church.
About fifteen years ago I was lying on the sofa at home wrapped in a duvet feeling ill. I was passing the time watching TV and the film Dirty Dancing was on, which ends with the leading couple doing a great dance in front of an audience. Others then join them on stage. And then they come down from the stage and one by one encourage the audience to join in. By the end most people are sharing the dance in a wonderful scene of celebration. As I watched this final scene of the movie the Lord spoke to me very clearly, telling me that this was a picture of what the UK would be like in the coming years. That we would be a dancing church.
There was another song too at the conference that stood out for me. It was Worship Central’s Let it be Known. Also a great dancing song, the conference ended with it as the stage filled with people all doing a simple choreographed dance. It was fantastic, sending us out to show and tell of the God who changes lives. There’s a fun version of it on YouTube that you can watch below:
As we left the Albert Hall I overheard someone saying how prophetic the dancing had been. And as they said it I was taken back to the word the Lord had spoken to me 15 years ago. It reminded me that what I had seen back then was now just starting to come to pass. That we were beginning to become a dancing church.
For some, dancing isn’t easy. They want to dance but they find it hard to let go. I know how that feels. But in the end, dancing is good. It’s fun. It’s liberating. It’s celebratory. It’s missional. It’s unifying when we dance together. And it’s biblical (eg. 2 Samuel 6:14-16; Psalm 149:3; Psalm 150:4; Ecclesiastes 3:3; Jeremiah 31:13).
We are going to see more dancing in church in the UK. I know it. And I think I began to see signs if it this week in London. Let’s not be afraid of that. Instead let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us learn to celebrate. Because the UK church is going to become a dancing church.
Amen to that Matthew! I am in complete agreement. The time is coming…
Last week I shared with Liz Gibson how I felt my heart was aching in the worship last Sunday at Grace. I was full of the spirit of joy and I wanted to run to the front of the church pick up a flag and start dancing in the aisle but I didn’t. A few days earlier I had been praying with my prayer partner Mits Griffin and the song ‘Lord of the dance’ came to her mind. I remember singing the song in assembly as a child and our Lord is the Lord of Dance. Young adults particularly love to dance and be free and unfortunately there is a thief that has managed to use night-clubs to lure our young people away from an abundant life into a life of destruction. I say this from experience as that was where it seemed the fun was coming from in my late teens but it was a lie and that lie stole a good chunk of my youth. If the truth be known, there wasn’t any dancing coming from church so I followed my friends and the dancing. I am not saying as Christians we shouldn’t go to clubs as I went recently after a 7 year break with a group of Actresses from the Mystery Plays and had fun. It’s just important that as Children of God we follow our King as he leads us into the Kingdom and not our peers who may lead us astray. Jesus brings life and life to the full (Matthew 10:10) and I believe Jesus is saying keep dancing. As Christians we need to claim it back for him and perhaps see some rave parties for the Youth in the Basement.
Jesus says in Matthew 18:3…’I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” Recently this passage hit home to me as I was teaching one of my Early Years classes at Stagecoach York. The children were playing a game of musical statues, as the music played the children danced. They danced with great zeal and gusto they shook every part of their bodies, some looked really silly but they didn’t care. They were in complete bliss and it was beautiful to see. I also witnessed this lack of self-consciousness displayed by my daughter a couple of weeks ago as my husband and I sat in our next door neighbour’s garden, relaxing in the sunshine; our daughter performed various dance routines for us all. As I sat there recording the spectacle our neighbour joked that my daughter wouldn’t be laughing when the video recording was shown at her 18th birthday party. It made us all laugh but it made me realise that a time may come when my exuberant daughter will no longer feel free to dance in public and has already started to say it’s embarrassing if it’s peoples she doesn’t know. It should send warning bells to us when we start getting self-conscious at times of worship. The same feelings of unease were felt by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden at the time of the fall. These feelings stopped them from being able to communicate with their Father with all their hearts, souls and minds. We need to watch out when these same feelings cause us to quash the Holy -spirit within us and prevent us from being all we were created to be. My daughter was free to dance amongst people she knew, we should claim this freedom to dance as Children of God within his family during worship. I say this as a challenge to myself and have to hold onto a picture that a lady at a women’s weekend away had for me years ago. She saw me dancing with God and said my greatest form of worship to God would come when I danced for him. She encouraged me to do it more so today’s blog really resonates with me. It makes me think of the film ‘Footloose’ that I watched as a teenager with Kevin Bacon. You can’t hear that final song without getting up and dancing which I just did. You must you tube it its brilliant! It’s funny the words say in Footloose ‘kick off your Sunday Shoes’ like you dance after church. It would be great if we could put on our dancing shoes as we came into church… So in the words of the song Lord of the Dance:.”Dance, Dance wherever you may be I am the Lord of the Dance said he and I lead you all wherever you may be and I lead you all in the dance said he…” and in the words of Footloose” Let’s dance”!
Thank you SO MUCH Matthew for posting this!! You won’t believe how encouraging I’ve found it. And a big Amen from me.
Let’s do it!
Inspirational! This is great fun!