I’ve seen many effective dances that are beautiful examples of Christian dance ministry. But I’ve also seen plenty of dances that lacked clarity in the song, the text and/or the choreography. Most people are well-meaning when they begin to prepare a ministry dance but plenty of elements take creativity on a rabbit trail. What in the world is a ‘rabbit trail’?

In choreography for Christian dance ministry, a rabbit trail takes you off the intended biblical target of the dance that you are preparing. Because it is a warning, see it as a red light. Remember to point your conceptual design back to your choreography target using prayer, study, and preparation. Of course, the Holy Spirit needs to lead you all through the process of creation!

Rabbit trail warning 1
Study the words to the song/text you are considering for dance ministry. Leave the results of this investigation to the word analysis of the song. That will reveal the choreography target for the dance. Don’t assume that you know it.

Rabbit trail warning 2
It is easy to ignore the concept in a song and focus on feelings or technique as you plan choreography to the music. Neither feelings nor technique should lead the craft of planned choreography. (Feelings are engaged as you respond to Jesus in worship; technique will be used to prepare the dance but neither one are the foundation of movement design.)If you are responding to the worship of Jesus spontaneously in a church service, that is biblical and valid; however, that kind of responsive movement reflects a different dance form than planned and rehearsed choreography. Remember that planned movement must be Spirit-led every bit as much as spontaneous movement. Once the concept has been identified, you, as choreographer, must find a way to develop that concept in your choreography. Otherwise, you’re wasting the non-verbal language of dance. After all, why dance to a song about “rest” or “no more pain” and not show movement that enhances its meaning?

Rabbit trail warning 3
Don’t assume that every Christian song will have a rich source of theology. Christian composers often follow rabbit trails. It is easy to like a song because of its arrangement (the beat, the meter, the style of the singer, etc.) rather than song content. Although a song can dabble in Christian themes, if the message is not clear, it is not a good choice for dance ministry.

Rabbit trail warning 4
Many songs include a clear biblical message after inductive analysis; nevertheless, when you hear the song, you have trouble understanding the words. If this happens, the weak singing and musical arrangement overrides the content of the song. Don’t choreograph a song you can’t understand. Why? Because a congregation has one time to see a dance, hear the words, and walk away with a message. If they can’t understand the words of a song, their focus shifts from learning about God to straining to hear the words of the song.

May the Lord Jesus lead you to create wonderful ministry dances! I hope that these tips help! And be prepared:) I’ll share more choreography ‘rabbit trails’ next month so that we make sure that dance ministry is communicating clearly to God’s people!