(Excerpt from Chapter 1)
We have looked at several important issues as it relates to the general conduct and disposition needed in ministry. How does this all apply to the dancer?
In all that we have established thus far, there are three key points to revisit as we apply ministry to the dance:
- The dance is not our ministry. Our ministry is to attend to the Father, and align ourselves with that which He leads us to do with and through the dance.
- The dance is a vehicle that has He has entrusted to us for the purpose of fulfilling our assignment in His will.
- Like the job offer, we voluntarily accept our assignment and choose to walk in agreement-obedience because we respect and acknowledge that we are handling His business.
These ideas of entrusting and intended use make me think of a company vehicle. If you are an employee of my company and I let you use the company car, I am giving you temporary custody and stewardship of the car so that you can use it to take care of the things I need you to take care of for my business. I am not putting the car in your care for you to go get your hair done, to go grocery shopping, or take a road trip. I may give you permission to use the car for those purposes, but only if they do not interfere with you first making sure you handle company business. In ministry, we sometimes fall into the trap of confusing stewardship with ownership. This is understandable because we take on a sense of ownership with the gift and assignment we have been given. We make them our own and we take personal responsibility for them; but this feeling of ownership must be held in proper context. How, then, do we handle that which is not ours? How do we regard the person to whom what we hold belongs? Through agreement-obedience.
Ownership does not require you to give account to anyone because you are dealing with your own stuff. Stewardship, however, does require accountability and an acknowledgement that the things you deal with are, in fact, not your own, even though the one who entrusted it to you wishes you to guard and treat it as if it were your own. It also requires you to agree with the owner’s parameters of sanctioned use. If I give you a hammer and tell you to hang a picture on the wall in my living room, my intention is for you to use the hammer to do what I instructed. I did not give it to you to disregard my instructions regarding what to do to my stuff, with my stuff. In the same way, God has entrusted the dance.
Thus we, as dancers, must divorce ourselves from the perception that dancer is all we are. Yes we dance, which makes us a dancer in the functional sense, but we are more than a dancer in His purpose. We are stewards of the dance. As stewards, we acknowledge that there is something bigger than the dance, beyond the dance, and yet including the dance, that we have been enlisted to exercise care over. Our dance activity is connected to a higher principle and purpose. We must be presented in our stewardship of the dance.
Being presented in our service is a choice that influences how we obey. In ministry, we place ourselves at the disposal of God. We acknowledge His providence over this gift of dance within us. We come into agreement with His determinations about how our ministry is to be structured and run, what songs we do, what engagements we accept and refuse, the choreography we do, the garments we wear, the instruments we use, who is responsible for what within the ministry, how they get into the ministry, what happens in our rehearsals, how we prepare for ministry, etc.
Substance, Form, and Result.
Throughout this chapter we have touched on the distinction between the dance and the ministry. Our ministry, the way we serve, is to seek his voice and obey what we’ve heard. That obedience takes on a particular form (like the dance) and produces a particular result (like healing); but obedience, the form it takes, and what it produces are three distinct elements. Dance minister, preacher, prophet, evangelist, singer, the laying on of hands, prophesying- these are not the ministry. These are vocational and physical representations that clarify the way our obedience is carried out or the form of expression that it takes on. Through this distinction I am pointing out that anyone can arbitrarily carry on the activities of any of these functions (stand before people and speak, grab a mic and sing, or put their hand on someone’s forehead) and nothing would result from it because the form is not the ministry and the ministry is not the form. God may tell a preacher to grab a mic and sing. He may tell a singer to lay her hands on a woman’s stomach and prophesy, or a dancer to preach.
Titles that we carry in ministerial positions can become confusing when we begin to think that the position itself is the ministry. We have wrongly concluded that the title of ministerial positions (i.e. “preacher”) is what we are destined to become. We are sons and kings. Ministry is to be what we do, not who we are. Yes, God calls us to certain functions, but the substance, the individual actions that make up those functions are to be acts of obedience. For instance, God calls Bro. Macy to be a Pastor (position). His activities in the function of a Pastor should be acts of obedience, meaning he must obey God in how to prepare to deliver the word, what word to declare and when to declare it, how to set up the house God has given him to steward, and how to run the services. If Bro. Macy were to try to do any of those things outside of the realm of obedience, outside of God’s prescribed manner for him to engage in the function of a Pastor, his actions would be fruitless because the mere activities of a ministerial position cannot persist in themselves. They only give form and tangibility to the obedience.
Now, we must further understand that the obedience is not what manifests the presence and power of God. He does that by Himself. Instead, our obedience aligns us with the flow of His power. Think about the powering of a fan. On a fan you have the cage, the blades, the on/off switch, and the power cord, which has at its end a plug and two metal prongs. When I plug the fan into the wall, is it the plug that powers the appliance? Is it the on/off switch? Or is it something else?
Inside the wall, behind the drywall and insulation, electricity is being provided into your house from an outside source so that whatever you plug into the wall will be powered. Basically, it is that electricity that is powering the fan. The metal prongs at the end of the cord are called conductors and they serve as conduits for the electricity, as electricity will only flow through certain channels. If there were wood prongs on the plug, electricity would not flow to the fan, even though it has been plugged into the electrical outlet. In the same manner, God’s power only flows through a certain conduit, that being our obedience. When we obey God in the dance our dance is like the power cord, and our obedience like the metal prongs at the end of the plug. Our obedience causes us to tap into the power of the heavenlies and the electric current of God’s power attaches itself to our act of obedience, flows down through our dance, and electrifies the atmosphere to produce all manner of manifestations of God’s power. Our obedience is the way that we tap into the power already present in our midst, like the plug is the way to tap into the electricity that already exists in the wall to power the fan.
Another way to picture the response to our obedience is to look at a 3-ring binder. Our obedience creates alignment and an unobstructed pathway for His power to move through. Have you ever tried to put paper on the rings when the holes were not lined up? It doesn’t work, right? What obedience does is align the holes with the rings (the power of God) so that they can flow through. If the holes are out of alignment, a blockage is created and only if you adjust the paper and align the holes, or tear a new hole that is aligned with the rings, can the rings go through. When our activity is aligned with the Spirit, resulting from our obedience, the power of God can flow through us and results are produced, like healing, miracles, deliverance, divine information and direction. These again are not our ministry, but they are the evidence that we have engaged in ministry, that we have heard and obeyed God. Healing, miracles, deliverance, divine information and direction are actually part of God’s ministry to His people.
Authorship vs. Instrumentality
Though we stand before the people of God, we are not ministering to them, even though we are there for them and are addressing them. We have an assignment and responsibility to them, but we are not the ones ministering to them. We are ministering obedience to God, providing a free and clear pathway that He can work through to minister to the people. I have heard this partially said before and I always disagreed, not with the statement but with the context in which it was said and understood. That we minister to God and not man has been wrongly understood as standing in front of people and engaging in personal worship, with no regard for them that are before you. That is not what I am talking about. I only make the distinction in order to highlight the importance of our obedience, which facilitates God’s ministry to His people. The whole objective of our interaction with God in this regard is His people. Still, we are only a conduit and facilitator for the One who actually ministers to them in the form of His presence, healing, deliverance, etc.
As a church, we have over-mystified and over-complicated being used by God. The deal is simply this: if our activity is not an act of obedience, it is not ministry, regardless of how much our garments cover our body, how many churches invite our groups to dance on their program, or how many people clap and cry when we are finished. When He directs us to give to a sister, to dance a certain song, or not to dance, do we obey? If we do we are in ministry. If not, we are not. Again, religion has prepared us to think of ministry as a grand display of supposed spirituality; but true ministry is in simple obedience: in saying what He tells you to say, and only that, dancing the song He tells you to dance, refusing the invitation He tells you to refuse. It is the simple ordinary obedience. We tend to regard only what we do in front of people as ministry but ministry actually begins in the secret confines of our individual everyday lives. When we stand before the people of God, we must do there what is required of us in the privacy of our homes: seek God and bring our selves and actions into agreement with what He is saying. The difference between obeying God regarding our personal lives and obeying Him regarding a group of people is that the latter is obedience in a greater capacity and immediately affects a larger group of people. Still, the task and process of ministry (setting ourselves to hear and aligning ourselves with what we’ve heard) remain the same.
How to Use This Book
Chapter 1: Ministry Demystified
What qualifies what we do through dance as ministry?
The Business of Service
Dance Ministry In Grace
A Presented Disposition
Authorship vs Instrumentality
Substance, Form, and Result
Chapter 2: Place and Function
What bigger context does our ministry fit into and what is our part in it?
Seeing Dance Ministry In Perspective
The Aaronic Priesthood
Chapter 3: The Effectiveness of Dance Ministry
How does ministry transpire through the dance? What is happening when we dance?
The Absence of Cling
The Allure of Song
Exposing the Point of Access
Obtaining the In-Season Song
Build Me a Sanctuary, and Just So Shall you Make it
A Part of the Way He Speaks
The Effect of Dance
On the Matter of Choreography
Form and Training
Worshipping God in “Non-Church” Contexts
When the Minister Needs Ministry
Chapter 4: Entering Ministry
What is your assignment through dance? How is God going to employ the specific combination of attributes He put in you?
What is the Call of God
The Season of Briefing
DNA Evidence of Who’s Been in the Room
Whatever You Say