A recent post on the Ministry-To-Chilren’s website had quite a few people talking. We’re always glad to hear your feedback and we welcome discussions about the various topics we write about. This particular post asked the question, “Should children be dancing in church?”
I’ve been in ministry for over 20 years and I’ve seen questions like these pop up now and then and I’m always surprised at the variety of responses they receive. In my opinion granted, this is my opinion and not the opinion of everyone who contributes on MTC, to say, “Children dancing in church is just wrong,” seems a bit shortsighted. Besides all the biblical examples of this type of worship, allowing some types of dancing is a practical move for children’s ministry leaders faced with classes full of fidgety children.
I know, what you’re thinking. That’s a bold statement, Mimi. But I can back that it up.
First, let’s look at the biblical examples. I want to start with one verse that you are most likely very familiar with, especially if you work with children. In Matthew 19:14, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Can you picture what was happening in this moment? There were crowds gathering around the Lord and parents were putting children in his pathway, asking him to bless them. He did, without reservation and without putting conditions on their approach. He loved them as children.
Later, in Matthew 21, “The blind and the lame came to Him at the temple, and He healed them. But the chief priests and scribes were indignant when they saw the wonders He did and the children shouting in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’
“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked.
“Yes,” Jesus answered, “have you never read: ‘From the mouths of children and infants You have ordained praise?”
Children were waving palm branches , shouting and undoubtedly behaving quite unruly in their praise. To the people that day it mus have seen quite unruly, lacking decorum, dangerously worldly but Jesus had another response. He accepted their love and admiration in whatever way they chose to offer it! Children are always children. They are boisterous, joyful, jubilant no matter what century we’re talking about.
David danced as the Ark of the Covenant returned to Israel. Miriam and her ladies danced and shook tambourines in celebration of the mighty deliverance of the Lord.
And there are examples of unholy dancing too. What Salome did, dance seductively for her uncle/stepfather that was nothing short of a blashphemous display. When the prophets of Baal danced before their god to convince him to challenge the God of Elijah, this obviously was not pleasing to the Lord. These are certainly negative examples, things we shouldn’t do. Seductively gyrating, and undulating in a fleshly way is wrong, dancing to please an idol is wrong. But what David did, what Miriam did were none of those things. They made themselves foolish before God, to please him and these were such precious to Him that he memorialized these deeds by adding them to His Word.
Obviously here at Ministry-to-Children, were not suggesting that any of you allow unholy dancing in your ministries. However, one a word of advice, to create a thriving ministry, you can’t rely on a list of don’ts. We don’t do this, we don’t do that. “Don’ts” do not inspire people to worship. What does fire children up are statements like, “Let’s clap our hands for the Lord!” Or “Let’s spin in circles and say hallelujah!”
Moving your arms and limbs to worship the Lord, using your body to honor God is dancing. Whether were sitting in chairs or doing the hokey-pokey, we should have the confidence that God loves us no matter what we’re doing. TEACH children how to sing to the Lord, how to dance before the Lord. YOU, teach them, so they won’t get it wrong. But if you don’t want dancing in your children’s ministry that’s totally up to you.
For the rest of us, those of us with classes full of kids with fidget spinners and ADHD, we’ll be dancing.
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