Dance Team Handbook
Table of Contents
1. DANCE & FLAG MINISTRY GUIDELINES FOR SUNDAY MORNINGS 1
2. INFORMATION FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN DANCE & FLAG MINISTRY. 3
3. Styles of Dance Found in Our Church ... 5
4. Flags & Banners 6
5. Why Are Flags Used In Worship? 7
6. Colors Used in Flags and Their Meanings .. 9
7. Biblical References to Dance 10
8. Biblical References to Flags & Banners 11
9. Important article on history of dance .. .. 12
10. Releasing Process .. 15
SOUTH LANE CHRISTIAN CENTER
DANCE & FLAG MINISTRY GUIDELINES FOR SUNDAY MORNINGS
Worship is one of our highest priorities here at South Lane. We have experienced many expressions of worship over the years, and there is probably non-more beautiful and inviting as dance or flag ministry. These terms may be new to you and you may never have seen someone worshipping in dance or flag ministry before our Lord. We believe scripture points to these as forms of worship. We want to help you understand, and (if desired) participate in this way of giving praise to God.
As you look around during worship, you will see people standing, sitting, raising their hands, and maybe even laying on their face before the Lord. These are personal moments between God and a congregation member. It is not done for show or to draw attention to oneself, but to give glory to God in a personal way. These expressions, along with swaying, clapping, and other hand motions, at your seat are your personal expression of love toward the Father and thankfulness for what Jesus has done for you.
Dance and Flag ministry, though it may look like a personal expression, is actually a corporate move of God on his people. It involves those that participate and those that observe. Many of us would like to be able to dance or use flags and banners in worship before the Lord, but are physically unable or lack the confidence to do so publicly. An important consideration of those that you see participating during the service in this ministry, whether choreographed or free-style interpretive, is the attitude and condition of the heart. It is a ministry that draws others, so we invest the time to disciple and release those called to this part of ministry.
The dance and flag groups are part of our overall Worship Ministry here at South Lane. Therefore, a person's character, accountability, spiritual growth, marriage, family etc. are considered. If you are interested in being a part of this expression of worship, please lrt uds know.
"Then, young maidens will dance and be glad,
young men and old as well."
First and foremost, these guidelines are simply that... a guide. They are not intended to be strict and hard-nosed, but rather a helpful tool for dancers in at South Lane. The most important guideline for all dancers in the Body of Christ is to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and Jesus' teachings. With this being the case, I want to emphasize one particular verse.
In my opinion, if we as dancers are living these two commandments, then guidelines become unneccessary because we truly are living above reproach. So, the greatest and most important guidelines for our dance ministry here at South Lane are these verses.
However, I also know that as humans that are a fallen creation there are times when some people desire more concrete answers. Therefore, the following guidelines are to answer questions and to be used only as a resource and secondary tool alongside the scripture above.
Celebration Dance - an expression of worship by the whole body of Christ, when released by the Holy Spirit or verbally released by leadership through the Holy Spirit.
Team Dance Flag Ministry- when the Dance/Flag Worship Team presents a dance/flag routine to people, God gives the routine to the dancers as they work together and pray together for the dance, each other and the people of the church. When deciding if someone will be allowed on the team, the length of time he or she has been attending will be considered first; other criteria that will be considered is given below. The releasing process rests with the church leadership for discernment.
Interpretive Dance- an individual dancer, led by the Holy Spirit, will give a spontaneous expression of worship through dance. This takes place as the people of the church gather and worship the Lord together. Leadership releases some dancers on the Dance Worship Team to dance during this time. Spontaneous dance among church members, not yet on the team, can happen when led by the Holy Spirit. It is the leaderships awesome responsibility to discern it's appropriateness. For the most part, anyone wishing to operate in Dance or Flags continuously, will need to be on the Team.
Flag Ministry- an individual, led by the Holy Spirit, will give spontaneous expressions of worship through flags and streamers. This takes place as the people of the church gather and worship the Lord together. Leadership releases some dancers on the Dance/Flag Worship Team to dance during this time. Biblically, a flag is referred to as a standard, banner, or rallying point.
Team Dance, Interpretive Dance, and Flag Ministry
Here is the criterion for those who have a desire to participate in Dance/Flag Ministry on a regular basis, either as an interpretive, team, or flag ministry member:
1. Must be a person of INTEGRITY
2. Must be a WORSHIPPER from the heart
3. Must have a SECRET HISTORY of worship
4. Must be PRAYING for dance and flag ministry
5. Must be able to BLESS OTHER DANCERS
6. Must be able to receive an answer of NO or WAIT
Ψ listen to God & to leadership
§ when it's not the right time for dance
§ when only certain dancers will be released to dance in different situations
§ when not dressed appropriately
7. Must be on the Dance Flag Ministry Team to be released for interpretive dance. Some dancers may be released for Team Dance and not Interpretive dance, leadership will decide this. Leadership will also decide if anyone from the congregation who is not on the team may dance.
8. Must always be dressed modestly whether released to dance during worship or not. A dance worshiper's main purpose is to worship the Lord in heart, mind, body, soul, and body. When we are dancing, we do not want to distract anyone in any way with our clothing. We are representing the Body of Christ, so even when we are not dancing we must not wear anything that would cause a person to stumble.
Here is a list of things to remember when deciding what to wear:
§ blouses must not be see thru, low cut, snug, or show cleavage; also, if it is so loose that undergarments are seen a tank top must be worn to cover undergarments.
§ sleeveless tops are not to be worn
§ loose fitting cap sleeves are O.K.; if undergarments cannot be seen
§ loose fitting T-shirts are fine unless the sleeves are so wide undergarments can be seen, then a tank top must be worn to cover the undergarments.
§ pictures or writing on tops must not be anything that could be seen as offensive or cause negative or inappropriate thoughts; remember we are representing the Body of Christ, who is representing the Lord to each person that comes through the door.
§ women need to wear undergarments that firmly support them
§ when wearing a top, it must be long enough to cover the waist even when arms are raised, legs are kicked up, and we are bent- hands touching the feet. We must accommodate for any and all moves that might occur during moments of dance.
§ if wearing a skirt, it must be below the knees and thick leggings must be worn underneath, nylons and see-thru leggings are not acceptable
§ if wearing pants, make sure they are not form fitting or snug, they must not be see-thru.
§ if we are out on the streets as a body ministering to those God brings to us, we also need to be mindful of these things.
REMEMBER, we do not want to cause anyone to stumble by the way we are dressed or the way we are dancing. We must be on guard against any moves that may be considered too seductive, sensual, or inappropriate. Leadership will prayerfully consider all these things about a person when deciding whether he or she is ready to be part of the Dance Flag Ministry Team or released for flags or interpretive dance. Our primary purpose is to represent Christ to the Body of Believers, our Leadership, and the Lost so that all might be saved.
"Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or Church of God, even as I try to please everybody in every way." For I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many, so that they may be saved. - 1 Corinthians 10:32-33
Styles of Dance Found in Our Church
Celebration: This style of dance is used when the Pastor or Worship Leader calls the whole congregation to dance before the Lord. It is called celebration dance because its an expression of rejoicing done by the whole Body.
Interpretive: This is the most common style of dance used during regular worship services. It is a style, which expresses the emotions and words of a song through movement. It can also communicate Gods thoughts or feelings to the congregation. It is a spontaneous and freestyle expression of worship.
Liturgical: This term is often interchangeable in our body with the term Interpretive. The sole purpose of liturgical dancing is to express your love, devotion, and appreciation for God. You do not have to be trained extensively to perform liturgical dance. The only requirement in this form of dancing is a willingness to dance completely for God rather than for your own glory.
Warfare: The warfare dance is brought about by a need. When Satan attacks people of faith, God can provide a dance of worship to wage a battle against him. In this style of dance, much of the movements are abrupt and swift. Some warfare movements are kicking, stomping, punching, stabbing, lunging forward, and clapping.
Choreographed: Pre-rehearsed dance movements whether choreographed and performed by an individual or a team. Often, our church performs team-choreographed dances for the congregation and outreach.
Flag & Banners: The use of flags, streamers, ribbons, and banners during worship. Please see flag and banner section for more information.
Flags & Banners
Used in accordance to the Word, flags become the primary
sign for lifting up a "standard" of God. The Bible refers to
the word flag as "standard" or "banner." The Hebrew
word degel is translated as, a flag or banner or standard. Degel
comes from the Hebrew root word dagal, meaning to flaunt, i.e. raise a
flag; to be conspicuous, setting up with banners. Standard is defined as
a banner used as an emblem, marker or rallying point; an ensign; military or
personal flag. In the Old Testament, God commands Moses to instruct the
children of Israel to camp by their own "standard" to signify their
tribe. (Num. 2:2) There were 12 different flags or banners for the 12
tribes. (Num. 1:52, 2:2-3, 10, 18, 25; 10:14, 18, 22, 25)
Banner is defined as a flag or cloth standard. It is used figuratively to define one of God's names, Jehovah Nissi, the Lord is my banner! Ex 17:15 God's salvation and truth is declared by the raising of the banners, Ps. 20:5, Ps. 60:4. He is a banner of love and protection described in Song. 2:4 and reigns with great power, Song. 6:4, 10. He is standard and He is calling us to lift up a standard, declare and proclaim it to the entire world. (Isa. 5:26, 11:12, 13:2; Jer. 50:2).
Why Are Flags Used In Worship?
To Bestow Honor - To declare a name and an aspect of God's character. As we wave it, we minister in love to our King and proclaim the magnificence of Who He is.
To Communicate - As a particular flag is raised, the prayer behind it is somewhat like a phone call. We are speaking to our Lord in the aspect of His character depicted in the flag, asking Him to reveal Himself and related matters of His heart to us. For example, if a flag exalts Him as Jehovah Roi (The Lord Our Shepherd), we are asking to speak to Him as the One Who leads, protects, and comforts us. Perhaps our hearts are crying out to Him to bring us to that place of restoration, or to show us specific direction for a situation. We ask, then await His response.
To Signal God's Presence - Lifting flags in worship follows the action of Moses as he lifted his rod(a shepherd's staff, a spiritual type or symbol of a flag) as a visible sign of God's presence, power and authority over the armies of Israel. Jeremiah 51:12 Lift up a signal(flag) against the walls of Babylon; post a strong guard, station sentries, place men in ambush! For the Lord has both purposed and performed what He spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon.
To Declare Our Allegiance - As we wave our flags in worship, we admit our loyalty as members of our Lord's army in the presence of men on earth and before powers and principalities in the heavens.
To Rally the Troops - We know our battles is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, powers and spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places(Eph.6). Raising a flag stirs
unity and loyalty in the King's army, gathers soldiers together for strategy and strengthens commitment to victory. Isaiah 11:12 And He will lift up a standard(flag) for the nations, and will assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
To Direct Warfare
& Praise - Early records show that in ancient Egyptians battles,
soldiers looked to flags(ribbons or fabric tied to poles) to determine the
direction of the wind, then shot their arrows accordingly to reach their
target. In terms of spiritual warfare, a particular flag might be flown
to say in the physical realm what is happening in the spiritual: it relates
the direction of the "wind" of the Holy Spirit on a particular
day. To Put the Enemy to Flight -
To Boast of Victory - Another Hebrew word for banner is "dagal" and the definition of it is "to flaunt, be conspicuous, set up with banners." Ps. 20:7 says "we will boast in the name of the Lord..."
To Be a Touchpoint of Faith - God directed Moses to put a bronze serpent on a pole as a focal point and promised that whoever would have faith enough to look on it would be healed of the deadly serpents' bites. As we look to the Cross in faith, we find healing in the blood of Jesus. Flags are not idols and do not contain healing, nor any other manifested gift of God, but serve the Body of Christ as a visual reminders of His faithfulness as Jehovah Rophe. The Our Healer, or Jehovah Shalom, The Lord Our Peace, or any of the wonderful qualities of El Shaddai, the All Sufficient God, God Almighty.
To Herald an Event - Flags declare a specific event or season. Through the use of flags in worship, as such a time as this, the Bride of Christ is announcing in the spirit of Elijah and John the Baptist, "The King is coming! Prepare the way for Jesus! The King is in the land!
Colors Used in Flags and Their Meanings
RED - blood and atonement Leviticus 17 v11, Hebrews 9 v12-14
BLUE - Heaven and heavenly grace & character Exodus 24 v10; 28:31
PURPLE - royalty Judges 8 v26, Mark 15 v17-18
WHITE - purity and holiness Psalm 51 v7, Matthew 17 v2, Revelation 3 v4
SILVER - redemption Numbers 18 v15-16
GOLD - divinity and Gods Glory Exodus 37, Exodus 40 v 34-35, Revelation 1 v13-14
BRONZE / BRASS - judgement Exodus 27 v1-3, Exodus 30 v17-21
YELLOW - celebration and joy Isaiah 51 v11, Isaiah 61 v3, Hebrews 1 v9
GREEN - new life-healing Psalm 92 v12-14, Hosea 14 v8
BROWN / GREY - repentance and humility Esther 4 v3, Daniel 9 v3-5
ORANGE / YELLOW / RED - fire and the Holy Spirit Acts 2 v3
PLUM - richness, abundance, infilling of the Holy Spirit Hosea 2 v22, Joel 2 v24
BLACK - sin and death Psalm 23 v4, Ephesians 5 v11
ROSE - Messiah, glory, Rose of Sharon
FUSCHIA - Joy, right relationship, compassion
AMBER - The glory of God, fiery passion, flaming throne of God, the temple of God, wisdom
TURQUOISE/JASPER - River of God, sanctification, healing, life-giving flow of the Holy Spirit, the New Jerusalem
Biblical References to Dance
Commission to praise God with dancing
v Psalm 150:4
v Psalm 149:3
David danced before the Ark of the Lord
v 2 Samuel 6:14-23
v 1 Chronicles 15 and 16
v Lamentations 5:15
v Psalm 30:11
v Ecclesiastes 3:4
v 1 Chronicles 20
v Exodus 15:20-21
Other scriptures relating to dance include:
v Judges 11:34
v Judges 21:21-23
v Matthew 11:17
v Luke 15:25
v 1 Samuel 18:6-7
v Jeremiah 31:4&13
Some references in the Bible relate to lively worship or leaping are also referring to dance. Hebrew words that have meanings related to physical movement were sometimes translated into English as "rejoice".
Biblical References to Flags & Banners
v Psalm 74:4
v Isaiah 31:9
v Psalm 20:5
v Song of Solomon 6:4
v Numbers 2:2
v Numbers 10:10-14
v Isaiah 5:26
v Isaiah 11:10
v Jeremiah 50:2
v Jeremiah 4:6
v Jeremiah 51:12
v Isaiah 62:10
Important Article about the History of Dance
Dance in the church is no longer a thing of the past. In today's society many churches are starting dance ministries for all ages and skill levels. They are even incorporating dance into their Sunday morning services. Dance is being utilized in Christian conferences, seminars, and ceremonies, as well as Christian concerts and music festivals. Several Christian schools and home school associations are now offering dance as part of their curriculum or as an extra-curricular activity. Many dance studio owners are incorporating their faith into their business practices by using Christian music in their classes and recitals, or even offering worship dance classes as part of their curriculum. Professional Christian dance companies can now be found in many states, as well as internationally. However, there are still many people who have never used the words dance and Christian in the same sentence. Dance itself has religious roots but it seems that as soon as it began, it was quickly banned from the church altogether.
Dance within the Body of Christ has been given many titles such as worship dance, liturgical dance, sacred dance, Christian dance, and interpretive dance. However the motivation for the movement remains the same: to point to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Other world religions use the title "Sacred Dance" to describe their cultural and ceremonial dances. The title "Interpretive Dance" is most often used in colleges and universities as related to the genre of modern dance. The "Liturgical Dance" title is linked to Christianity itself and is often viewed in the Liturgy of specific denominations. For purposes concerning this paper, we will define dance within the Body of Christ as a "Worship Dance". Hebrews 13:16 in the Message Bible tells us that worship isn't just what we do in church on Sunday mornings, but rather how we live our day to day lives. Similarly, while there are many different categories of dance within the Body of Christ, I feel that "Worship Dance" best describes them all.
The following are several definitions I have collected from different sources defining what dance from a Christian perspective...
The ancient Israelites considered dance a necessary part of life. They used it in worship as well as day-to-day doings, in good times and in bad. They believed that dancing would bring them into a closer relationship with Jehovah (their God). Israelites used ring dances and circle dances as means for celebration. They were also known to partake in processional dances and sometimes "hopped and whirled in joyful movement" (Coleman, 2). These dances represented a presence of the Holy Spirit. As Coleman talks states her article, the Israelites soon became aware of a distinction between the holy, sacred dances and those in pagan rituals. In later times, the Christians created a sharper distinction between the two types of dances.
In the early Christian Church (A.D. 100-500) "dance was still acceptable because it was planted deep in the soil of the Judeo-Christian tradition" (Coleman, 2). Christians continued the tradition of sacred dance for a while thanks to the preceding Hebrews. The rise of the Roman Empire brought forth new social and political influences. Christians created new realms of acceptance as far as the arts in these changing times. There are records of joyous circle dances. The Roman Empire however consider dance as an "unbridled licentiousness and sensuality" (Coleman, 3). The church continuously tried to purify dance and get rid of all the pagan aspects. In these times, movement was away to take the mind off themselves and focus on God.
During the fourth century "Many references to dance as part of worship...are tempered by warnings about forms of dance which were considered sinful, dissolute and which smacked of Roman degeneracy" (Coleman, 3). The Early Christians knew times were changing and tried their best to hold onto the timeless tradition. Church leaders slowly began to voice their opinions of dance and one by one began to oppose a celebration of the body. "This conflict reflects the difficulties the Church Father were experiencing as the church grew in popularity. The increasing number of converts made attempts to retain the dances of their own pagan cults, so that by the beginning of the sixth century, dance came under severe condemnation in the church" (Coleman, 4). This conflict of dance continued into the Middle Ages.
In spite of the conflict within the church, two specific sacred dance traditions emerged out of the middle ages. The first is that of the clergy performing during mass. Clergy members performed ritualistic movement during church services as well as offering sacred dances on holidays such as Easter and Christmas. These dances were typically processional or round dances. The second tradition was that of popular sacred dances. Popular sacred dances "developed in connection with church ceremonies and festivals..." and were "performed in churches, churchyards, or surrounding countryside during religious festivals, saint's days, weddings or funerals" (Coleman, 5). These dances were unregulatory, and sometimes accompanied by drinking, which the church frowned on.
Dance was still censored in the later Middle Ages (A.D. 1100-1400). Liturgically it was still accepted in the form of ring and processional dances, but the focus shifted from that of a devotional nature, to that of a theatrical and dramatic nature. Worship dances soon declined in popularity and the masses flocked to watch dramatic dances. The clergy thought dance was out of control, and as a result they sought more laws and restrictions on it.
A processional dance called danse macabre was the most popular religious dance in the 14th and 15th centuries. A dance epidemic called danseomania was brought about as well. It was too soon condemned as being possessed by Satan. In actuality, danseomania was simply a stress relief outlet. People would not cease these actions and soon after the dancers were said to be posessed by Satan. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, "sacred dance by the clergy was beginning to cease, but the popular church dances persisted. For a time the church remained unsuccessful in suppressing these popular dances" (Coleman, 6).
When the Renaissance period (A.D. 1400-1700) emerged, the liturgical dance form had already begun to suffer. "As the focus in popular dance shifted to the movement of the body, rather than on the divine, it too lost the essence of the true meaning of Christian dance" (Coleman, 7). But things changed as the Renaissance period progressed. Theatrical moral ballets became popular as well as interpretations on hymns. Processional dances made a huge comeback. But the small flame of hope was quickly blown-out by the Reformation period (A.D. 1517-1529). "The leaders of the Protestant Reformation were highly critical of traditional church customs. They sought to suppress the use of processionals" (Coleman, 7).
The Protestants argued that dance glorified the body, something Christians were directly forbidden to do. There was an increasing pressure to quickly banish any and all sacred dance forms and they were quickly taken off to small, secluded parts of the world, and in some instances turned into folk dances. "The events of this period eventually led to the eradication of liturgical dance, processions, and most visual arts, leaving only the arts of painting, preaching, and music unscathed" (Coleman, 8).
In the Post-Renaissance period (A.D. 1747-1774), movement was alive in a religious community called the Shakers. They are well known for their fascinating gestures. "Their palms facing upward were equated with receiving God's blessing" (Schroeder, 98). The Shakers were concerned with turning away from evil and turning towards goodness. They were also known to have a "beautiful understanding of prayer being the 'breathing of the soul'; and a genuine sense of God hearing and seeing the gestures of their hearts" (Schroeder, 99). This is a tradition that is still much admired today.
Modern dance had significant influence on the re-entry of dance in the church in the early 1900's. Modern dance founder Ted Shawn was among the first to create dances that were considered suitable for church services. Ted Shawn once said "And the greatest constant of all is that here in the dance we experience a rhythmic beauty, the activity of God Himself" (Schroeder, 100). He and his wife Ruth St. Dennis tried to incorporate that which is sacred into their art form. In Ruth's later years she formed the Society of Spiritual Arts, and devoted the rest of her life to incorporating faith into her choreography. Ruth St. Dennis once said, "Dance should lead all the arts because it is a great sacramental of harmonious living - an outward visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace" (Schroeder, 99). Modern dance was the perfect vehicle for renewed creativity because it didn't have the rigid structure and required vocabulary that ballet did. This new genre of dance allowed movement to be more expressive, thus giving way for dance to be integrated into the church.
The human race is a fallen people; sin is unavoidable. Without God's help we could take anything that he created and distort it. Throughout history many different dances have been created for the purpose of glorifying man instead of God. As a result of this distortion, almost all forms of worship dance were forced out of the church and into the secular realm until the late 20th century. Some say it was modern dance that paved an open path for the rebirth of worship dance. I believe that God is calling His people to be culture redeemers and demolish the distortion that has been applied to dance within the body of Christ.
As a new member of the dance team, it is important for you to understand one of the vital steps in the process of this ministry. It is called the releasing process. As a new member, we will be asking you to refrain from dancing in the front of the church during the regular worship service times until the Pastor or Dance Team Leader says that you are released to do so. Also, there may be some specific instructions that the Dance Leader or Pastor may have for you during this time. The reason for the waiting period is so that the leadership of the church can take time to get to know your character and pray to discern whether or not God is truly calling you to the interpretive part of dance ministry and determine your level of accountability, teachability, and correctibility. Remember, spiritual gifts always make room for themselves because we are a body in need of each working part. There is no need to fret over this process. Simply pray for the leadership so that they may truly hear Gods voice and discern accurately. Most important place your hopes and trust in God. The use of flags during worship is available for all members of the congregation and you are welcome to use them.
If you have any questions regarding any part of this ministry, please feel free to call me Tracy Allen, the Dance Team Leader, at (541) 942-0123.
γSome of the materials above have been used by permission and adapted to fit this particular ministry.
2005 Tracy Allen & Reign in Me Dance Ministries
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use this document and/or the Reign in Me Dance logo.
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