As a part of my mission service in Wisconsin, USA, I teach a dance class called Sacred Dance for a young church plant called Servant Community. Sacred Dance is dance for the purpose of prayer and praise to God. We haven’t done much in the way of performance; the class has been mostly a time of personal devotion and creative worship for those who attend. It is free and open to the community, and we recently started having our sessions on a local college campus, to be convenient to people we’d like to reach in our church.
Dance has been woven into my own journey of faith, prayer, and worship for many years, and Sacred Dance gets a lot of support from Servant Community and affirmations from people who’ve participated. Since I’m writing to fellow missionaries, though, I want to be honest that growing this ministry has been a challenge.
Servant Community church is committed to drawing young adults into deep discipleship, so most of our church members are ages 18 – 30, and I thought this was a crowd that would be excited about giving dance a try. Many of them are, but it seems college schedules and general business of life keep many people from participating in this free opportunity. Others seem daunted by the word “dance” being in our title. People imagine that’s something you either need training for, or need to be in some kind of altered state to do at a party.
For that reason I take every opportunity possible to teach and use “moving prayers” in times of prayer and worship with our church. I hope that by trying something that can be easily learned and prayed in worship, people will feel welcome and interested in trying the weekly Sacred Dance class. Among the congregational moving prayers that I have in my bag of tricks are the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23. These are both familiar phrases to most Christians, so adding movement while we say them or contemplate them is approachable.
Below is a video of three of us from Sacred Dance praying Psalm 23 in word and movement. I hope you’ll feel free to pray and share it yourself. These movements were created by several people in Sacred Dance who prayed and improvised together:
Sarah Wilcox Smoot
Servant Community / Interfaith Worker Justice