I remember my first time ever seeing dance to gospel music, when a group of middle school girls danced to Perfect Peace by Andre Crouch. It wasn't in a church, but I saw and felt the message of the song expressed in movement, and can still recall it today. We were told in church at the time that contemporary dance was of the devil, and notes were sent home with parents letting them know that "...although we understand that many children have dance training for poise and confidence, there will be no type of dancing allowed in the talent show". When dance was finally allowed at my church, there was a group of young ladies who danced to What Shall I Do? by Tremaine Hawkins. They had small bells on their wrists and ankles and really didn't move that much, but the message was still clearly received. Of course, there were people who whispered about it, but the group continued to dance on occasion.
Over time, dance has gained wider acceptance, and brought a lot of joy to people as they see the Good News of Christ communicated through worship in movement. Dancers have become more skilled and knowledgeable about their craft. But along with this, the element of competition and rivalry has crept in. Gospel promoters are cashing in on hosting Praise Dance Showcases and competitions under the guise of encouraging fellowship. Dance leaders have become territorial and have a sense of entitlement to top billing on programs, only want to associate with "recognized" ministries, exclude those from their groups who are not of the right body type or lack technical expertise and even worse, take the place of God in determining who can or cannot worship God in dance. In all of this, the element of worship has been lost for many people, and the dance has been reduced to entertainment, which has no place in the church. In response, some dancers have taken a hiatus or sadly, left the ministry altogether.
How can we stop this trend? By keeping Christ at the forefront of all we do, we will always be in worship mode. That leaves no room for competition, egoism, pride, abuse, territorial- ism, or any of the other sins that hinder God's work. I remember the days when we were happy to worship God freely in the dance and really make an impact, and I am thankful for those dance ministries who still do. Let's let Christ back into the dance...please?
Please enjoy this video by The Georgia NLDN...