– Lesson 3: Starting a Dance/Arts Ministry
Starting an Arts Ministry at Your Church
June 21, 2007
“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: the watchman waketh but in vain.”
The truth of the matter is no one starts a ministry or should try to start a ministry. God is the one who starts ministries and gives the workers the grace to operate in it. A great example of this is in the book of Nehemiah. God made all of the provisions and graced Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of the city in Jerusalem. God had put it in his heart to do it (Nehemiah 2:12).
It is of no surprise that we are living in a time of great renewal or transformation and I think I can safely say that we all perceive that something great is going to happen and soon. The TRUE uncompromising Church is going to rise up; they are rising up even now, to proclaim the TRUTH of God’s Word. They are no longer settling for “old wine” (tradition and religion) and the gospel of the flesh -which is centered upon living the best “Christian lifestyle”, a life that has no limits in terms of how one can use their imagination, words (“name it and claim it”) and thoughts to frame and obtain a life of one’s passions where everything will orbit around one’s aspirations.
The gospel of the flesh is focused on personal problems, relationships, situations and etc. It simply defines and magnifies the fallen nature of man because it centers on circumstances of life that disconnects the soul from the grace of God. This is NOT the Gospel of Christ but another gospel. We (the Church) need to REPENT and return to the Headship of Christ! Christ did not come to help us live a better life here on earth and to get all that we can in this life and prosper in it. What I am saying is this is not the purpose of the Gospel! The gospel and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ is for the SALVAGING of our souls. This is faith exploitation. Christ came to restore our relationship with the Father by cleansing the soul and healing it so that we can function perfectly in faith toward God as His sons.
Ministries are popping up left and right because believers globally want to be apart of something and are beginning to realize that we all have been called to do something. As a result, there is an overwhelming desire to get involved in some level or other, but often times these desires are driven without any direction.
I believe that every ministry must be birthed (brought forth) through intercession and much prayer for direction. God has put it in all of our hearts to “do something” and that “something” should be under His leadership. It is not wise to start a dance ministry (or any other ministry) because someone thinks it is a good idea, or because there isn’t one in your church. It must be birthed in the spirit of your leader and in your own spirit. Serving in the dance/arts ministry is an awesome responsibility and if you are not called you will not last or be able to withstand the attack which comes with the territory! Now, I know that this sounds heavy, but the price is heavy and the call is one of sacrifice.
First and foremost : Pray! Pray! Pray! Seek God for wisdom and His will regarding this endeavor.
Know, not just believe that you have been called and pray that God gives you confirmation, the ability, and the wherewithal to carry out what you believe in your spirit that you have been called to do. You have the Word of God and you have the Holy Ghost! God will tell you what He wants you to do, when He wants you to do it and how He wants it done! There is no mystery concerning His will.
Questions to consider:
- Are you being called to start a ministry totally independent and on your own (apart from your local church organization) or are you being called to start a ministry and work within a church organization (which depending on the organization and often times resources, will help you get started)?
- What type of church do you worship in? Is it traditional, a little old fashioned or is it contemporary? If your church is made up of older saints they may not take to well to Christian hip hop or rock.
- Would your church welcome the arts as a form of ministry (serving the saints to encourage, comfort and edify them in their faith)? Ask yourself these questions and think of other questions that might help you get a better understanding of who you would be ministering to if your leadership allowed it.
Formulate a mission statement:
Your mission statement should be one or more sentences that summarizes what the ministry is to accomplish. Write down the vision that you know God gave you for the arts ministry. Also write down a plan or a proposal and present it to your leadership. By writing it down it shows your leadership that you are serious!
How do you know what the mission of your ministry is?
It’s not a matter of your making it up out of thin air. Rather, you must carefully and prayerfully consider the following questions:
- What are God’s mandates in Scripture as it relates to dance? (this is important to know because dance ministry has been overly mystified and made out to be more than it actually is)
- What does He require all Christians to do as priests?
- What gifts has He given you and your team naturally and spiritually that can be unified with your dance?
- What kind of people do you and your team have a deep burden for (is it the young, old, abused, married, etc.)?
If you can answer the above questions, you will be better prepared to determine what kind of people you should be reaching out to, and what kind of service (ministry of love) you’ll provide them, and why your group should exist.
Communicate the vision:
If God has put it on your heart to start a ministry at your church talk to your leadership and see how they feel and continue to pray about this endeavor together. If you can get pastoral support you may be able to slowly educate the congregation on about the arts. Some suggestions on how to do this is to minister on special occasions or have a night or service dedicated to artistic praise. Also show them that artistic praise is scriptural. For instance take dance. There are many scriptures in the Bible concerning dance. Before you or and your group minister in dance or in any other form of artistic expression show it to them in scripture.
Remember that there are many ways that we can praise the Lord but there is only one way to worship Him and that is in spirit and in truth. Also be sure that your leadership and everyone on the team, now and in the future know and understand the vision of the new ministry. Everyone should know the reason why the ministry exists. That way, the whole team will work together in the same direction. It also prevents certain individuals from dividing the ministry and pulling it apart. A boat goes nowhere if everyone is rowing in different directions, no matter how hard everyone rows. In the same way, your ministry will go nowhere unless you communicate to everyone the direction that the ministry is supposed to go.
Below are some ideas for effectively communicating the vision of your ministry.
- See that your vision also lines up with the vision of your church or organization
- Develop an easily remembered name or slogan
- Have ministry leaders sign the mission/vision statement to prevent individuals from dividing it.
- Include a summary of the vision in any literature that you hand out.
- Review the vision statement (concept of ministry) regularly at your meetings.
Understand that some churches don’t see the arts as a form of praise unto the Father and as a form of encouraging the saints. This is the hardest obstacle to overcome. If your church leadership is not for having an arts ministry DO NOT operate in disobedience. Pray and ask God to open the door and use that time to train and learn all that you can about what God has placed in your heart to do and His Word. Maybe He is preparing you to go forth in ministry in a different way or maybe He will move you to a different church or ministry in the future.
Now that you have pastoral support, your proposal/vision/mission statement, start planning.
- Who will be apart of your ministry?
- Is it only you?
- What are the requirements of participating in ministry at your church (get guidance from your pastor or leadership) and also prayerfully set some of your own.
Advertise the new ministry through whatever media is available at your church (bulletins, projectors, announcements). Include practice times, ages welcome, what to bring / wear (you should have covered this already in your proposal).
Set objective goals — Goals bring your vision to a clear focus. Your vision will have more concreteness if you set concrete goals. Good goals should be specific, measurable, attainable yet faith-stretching, and time-limited. For example, one of the goals of PDCM is to cater to the needs of Liturgical/Praise Dancers, Mimes, Steppers, Pageantry and all who worship God through the arts with new, relative and timely information to better equip them for ministry.
Your preparation should be physical as well as spiritual. Depending on your level of experience you may want to consider taking some basic training classes in the style of dance of your choice, to better equip you for excellence in ministry. Pray about linking up with established ministries in your area. Attend workshops and conferences regarding your ministry or order DVD’s from other ministries. Remember iron sharpens iron! Be prepared to invest in your calling! Books, videos, workshops and whatever else will better equip you to do what God has called you to do.
Organizing is turning something complicated into something simple. Organizing is the task of gathering all the endless details so that they will make simple sense. This is important, because sometimes missing a small detail may be catastrophic to the ministry. For example, forgetting to announce your first meeting in the church bulletin may mean that no one will come.
- Be sure to always put God FIRST!
- Visualize and strategize – You’ve already “visualized,” i.e. you have articulated your ministry’s vision. Now “strategize,” i.e. list the steps to get there.
- Plan your first meeting well – The first meeting is crucial. It should start off with a bang. Pray about how God wants the meeting to go. It is also a good idea to minister or have someone with more experience minister to your prospective team members in order for them to get an idea of what they will be doing.
- Don’t forget to plan your follow-up process – Send thank you e-mails and feedback invitations
- MOBILIZE (when the vision becomes reality) – This is where actual ministry begins. In this phase, it is the leader’s responsibility to delegate tasks to the team members, encourage, teach, support and care for the team as well as minister to the people.
As a new ministry you may not be called often to minister. Be encouraged! Your gift will make room for you and your time will come. During your waiting period use the extra time to build up and stir up the gift that God has given you (naturally and spiritually).
An arts ministry is not something to be entered into lightly. Our call is to minister the heart of God through the movement of our bodies and the humble giving of our gifts and talents to encourage the saints. Remember, its all about God. Put God first and always keep Him at the forefront by seeking Him every step of the way!
Sonia Kong, PDCM