There are many ways people celebrate and praise God in the church. One way is being inspired to dance during parts of the service. Is “praise dancing” during worship appropriate?
Worshipping in both song and dance is a Biblically appropriate way to praise our Lord. For example, David is famous for dancing while praising the Lord. 1 Samuel 30:16; 2 Samuel 6:14-16.
1 Samuel 30:16 (NKJV)
16 And when he had brought him down, there they were, spread out over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil which they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah.
2 Samuel 6:14-16 (NKJV)
14 Then David danced before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.
16 Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.
Later David wrote of praising the Lord in dance in the Psalms, including Psalms 30:11; 149:3; 150:4. Is praise dancing during worship appropriate
Psalm 30:11 (NKJV)
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth (my sackcloth of mourning) and clothed me with gladness,
Psalm 149:3 (NKJV)
3 Let them praise His name with the dance;
Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.
Psalm 150:4 (NKJV)
4 Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Also, the prophet Jeremiah foretells of a time when the nation of Israel will be restored to their land under the New Covenant, and they will respond by praising the Lord in dances
Jeremiah 31:4, 13 (NKJV)
4 Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt,
O virgin of Israel!
You shall again be adorned with your tambourines,
And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.
13 “Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance,
And the young men and the old, together;
For I will turn their mourning to joy,
Will comfort them,
And make them rejoice rather than sorrow.
On the other hand, the fact that dancing in praise is Biblical doesn’t necessarily mean that all dancing during worship is appropriate. To borrow from Solomon:
Ecclesiastes 3:4 (NKJV)
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
There is a time for dancing and there are also times to remain still. When a person wishes to engage in dance during a worship service, their behavior must be guided by love and according to three general Biblical principles. Is praise dancing during worship appropriate.
First, the incorporation of dance into a worship service must be done with consideration given to the need for good order in the worship service. Paul teaches clearly in 1 Corinthians 14 that group participation in the worship service is to be encouraged, but he also cautions that the service must be in done in an orderly manner.
1 Corinthians 14:40 (NKJV)
40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
If the introduction of dancing brings a degree of disorder or disharmony in the body (i.e., disrupts the service or impedes worship for others), then it should be rejected as inappropriate. Under these circumstances, dancing is inappropriate not because it is wrong in itself but because in the way it is practiced, it is not edifying.
Secondly, the practice of dancing during worship must be approved by the elders of the church. No two church gatherings are exactly the same, and the Spirit will lead different congregations to adopt different expressions in worship. Consequently, dancing in worship will better fit some cultures than others, and it falls to the church leaders (i.e., the elders) to determine which practices are best suited to a particular congregation. In the end, Christians are expected to be in submission to their leaders.
Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV)
17 Obey those who rule (lead) over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
Should the leadership of a particular church prohibit dancing, the congregation should respect that judgment. Similarly, where dancing is permitted, the congregation should accept the practice. If someone insists on dancing during worship against the elders’ wishes, their worship is fruitless since it is an act of disobedience against the church leadership and therefore cannot please the Lord. Is praise dancing during worship appropriate
Finally, dancing in praise must be done with a heart to see God receive glory and praise rather than for the purpose of receiving attention. Someone with a sincere heart to praise God through dance won’t seek the attention of a crowd, nor will the person demand a prominent place in the gathering. Such a person will be just as happy to dance in a back corner of the sanctuary as on the front stage. If a person desires attention for themselves through this spectacle, then they have ceased praising God truly and are seeking praise for themselves.
Based on these three principles, we advise churches considering praise dancing to consider the following conditions: Is praise dancing during worship appropriate
1. The church leadership should pray concerning this activity and be confident that it is the Holy Spirit’s direction to introduce dancing into congregational worship. The introduction of dance should be a purposely, thoughtful, prayerful decision on the part of the leadership.
2. The congregation should be given a choice of attending another service without dancing to ensure that those who are distracted by the practice have the opportunity to praise the Lord without impediment.
3. Dancing should be limited to a prescribed manner and time during worship, and it should be confined to a limited area of the room, preferably at the rear of the sanctuary to ensure the dancers don’t receive undue attention or disrupt the order of the service.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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