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My pastors recently said that most dancing they’ve seen in church is embarrassing, daggy, overly feminised and theologically `dodgy’

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12:31 PM ET (US)
If men don't want to do Christian dance, then someone else has to do it - namely women. It is said that it was the elderly women in the Soviet Union churches who kept the churches going there during the 70 years of communism, when the State did not allow religion.
09:24 PM ET (US)
Which Christian missiologists have influenced and shaped your mission through their writing, music or teaching? How would you like to see your local church connect with arts and culture? What can you -- and have you done -- to connect with culture? How are you modelling as a spiritual leader for other believers to also connect with culture? Is dance culture valid or evil?
Andrew D Park
02:39 AM ET (US)
if it was Facebook would be clicking on the "like" button at your comment Noel. Might try and get a copy.
  Messages 21-19 deleted by author 02-23-2016 01:54 AM
Andrew D ParkPerson was signed in when posted
04:35 PM ET (US)
There are some quite good examples of churches that do pastorally care for and support creative artists, including dancers, here in Australia. For instance, Small Boat Big Sea in Manly has many different types of artists and high usage of their art is featured in just about every project they do, and provides a lot of pastoral support for both Christian and non-Christian artists within its wider missions perspective of community.
Wesley Mission & Institute, Hillsong Churches and C3 churches are renown for their nurturing and support of creative artists including dancers. At the recent Black Stump festival, there was high appreciation and encouragement from both the organisers, speakers, session leaders and key activist/preachers for both established and newly incoming artists, and I cannot believe that support was just some one-off isolated instance for the moment.
Organizational structure and leadership is highly relevant to the Church, and to an organization like ICDF. That is because the way an organization is structured directly effects its outcomes.
It needs to be subject to intelligent critique. And it also needs to be aware of, and informed about what is happening in the wider church. What happens in the wider church will inevitably have filter on effects on organizations like ICDF and how it shapes its future.
That is why CDFA is undergoing a year in review at present.
If we are going to re-shape the future for the greater missional betterment, we need to look critically at things like organizational structures and leadership paradigms. And that process will not only include talk directly about dance, but must look at other influences from wider afield that also shape the future such as culture, theology, broader community issues, what is happening within the world situations where we come from and live amongst.
Although the board is mainly about dance, it is also about mission and ministry within the wider Church and world context, including the national and international parameter. And that mission involves many things to do with Christianity and mission that are not just about dance, but issues which dancers need to be informed about if they are to minister relevantly to their mission-world. And their sphere of mission, hopefully is not just inward > Church, but outward > the wider secular world. And so not all we talk about here will be filtered solely through choreographer or dancer eyes, but through many other types of filters which inevitably help us to form our opinions.
So I'm not just going to limit myself or other posters to just talking about dance in this board, although I do need them to keep on topic.
Edited 10-17-2014 04:49 PM
Lucy Jarasius
10:27 AM ET (US)
Just a further thought... it occurred to me that it is not only "Pastors" who may provide inspiration, guidance and care to Christians who express their life and faith through dance. There are other "gifted" ones who "equip the saints for the work of the ministry", and they include Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Teachers (Ephesians 4, for example). Perhaps it is those from whom I have received the most inspiration and direction over my lifetime. Perhaps other ICDF Discussion participants (or potential participants) may have had similar experience and wish to share their wisdom with us? Perhaps they have had pastoral or other care for the faith aspect, but had to learn the mechanics of their art/craft from outside their explicitly Christian context and found God's guidance and care in the midst of "unbelievers"? Creative Dance "Pastors" seem few and far between. Perhaps fewer and farther between are Creative Dance Apostles, Creative Dance Prophets, Creative Dance Evangelists and Creative Dance Teachers?! If there were more of those, and I pray that there will be more APESTs (Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers)in ICDF's sphere of operations, then most dancing that pastors see would NOT be embarrassing, daggy, overly feminised or theologically "dodgy" because it would be a ministry much more dynamic and reflective of the way the church, the Body of Christ, is designed to function in God's call to participate missionally in today's world!
Lucy Jarasius
10:03 AM ET (US)
Because Andrew and I use the same email address, this post may come up under his name, but it's me, Lucy, posting this... I think that the ICDF Discussion Forum has been a space where intelligent and respectful discussion has occurred on a number of diverse topics. Dancers who are discipled to the person and teachings of Jesus Christ are often on an adventurous journey including formal, informal and accidental learning which informs and enriches the practice and expression of their life, faith and art. Therefore, "dance-related" may be a concept embracing a wide range of issues. It appears to me that the gist of Andrew's comments about "celebrity church culture" are more about encouraging ICDF Forum participants (both readers and commenters) in the spirit of Romans 12:1-2 (holistic transformational worship practice which has the power to prevent us from compromise with/conformity to fashionable worldly philosophies etc) than it is about inappropriate criticism. Discerning critique with a view to edification is vital in our contemporary world where it is very difficult for many people to discern the genuine from the counterfeit, or the healthy from the toxic, in terms of Christ-honouring organisational frameworks that support ministries. Dance ministry, like any other ministry, benefits from healthy, prayerful discussion amongst its practitioners, and I am thankful that the ICDF leadership has given opportunity for discussion forums of this nature to occur. I am also grateful that people from differing viewpoints may share their thoughts, because that contributes to growth and increased understanding. In my experience, as a person who hopes and trusts that others somehow "see Christ" in her danceworks, I have found empathetic pastoral care to be a rare phenomenon. After nearly 30 years in the world of "Christian creative arts", I KNOW some people who have found "mothers and fathers" of the faith in their circles of practice, for which they have been very grateful. However, fortunately, or unfortunately, as the Lord has so designated for my life, I have rarely experienced spiritual formation and/or artistically developmental mentoring from empathetic sources. Mostly I have had to learn "the hard way", through "spiritual hunger" for deeper things resulting in "hunting for meat", having outgrown a taste for easy "milk", and this has been the way that God has guided and provided for me. I am not complaining about that, nor do I envy others who have had a more "parental" kind of formation experience in their faith or artistic journey. In fact, I pray about and practically work toward a future where there are more Christian leaders to inspire, coach and mentor the next generation of Christian creative artists. It's no secret that dancers are "the apple of my eye" :-) So my "eye" needs to be "full of light" if I am to see clearly, and I think the ICDF Discussion Forum is an avenue through which clearer vision and clearer articulation of it is made possible... our dim mirror discussions may indeed have the Light of the World shone through!
Deleted by topic administrator 02-23-2016 01:54 AM
Andrew Park
05:19 AM ET (US)
Just thought I'd add a bit from a recent post I did from the National Churches of Christ, Australia webpage. The context of the post was in response to a discussion about idol worship and the resignation today of Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church. Driscoll was for 18 years the senior pastor of that major emergent church, but resigned after problems the Church had with his leadership style, which you can read about in

My post is reflecting about a book I am reading from Mark Sayers.

Feel sad, but not surprised at Mark Driscoll's resignation. It really just had to occur.
But it should lead to questions about why a church. which was at one stage from all accounts a reasonably healthy one culturally allowed itself to fairly quickly become quite toxic?
The Church needs good leaders. But do celebrities make good or great leaders? And it is culture which creates celebrities?
But behind the cultural layers, it is also theology - often foundational theology and its interpretation and integration with culture - which allows that to happened in the first place.
Mark Sayers refers to a postmodern church suffering an acute identity crisis where "the missional strategy taken by churches [is] neutered because the people inside churches [are suffering from an identity crisis...filled with insecurity about who they were and what difference their faith [makes] in their lives. Jesus' mandate to go out and preach the gospel in Mark 16:15 [seems] to have been replaced by the maxim to "go into the world and convince people that you are not a Christian dork". He continues later with the realization "that our lives have stopped speaking to the culture around us. The world looks at us and we look almost exactly the same as the world. Slowly, inch by inch, we have replaced the biblical command to be holy with the quest for status".
This, Sayers says, is quite different to what occurred in the early church. "The early Christians lived lives of holiness" that made them quite distinct from what was happening in the culture around them. It was "their lives of holiness that drew others to them and their life-giving message" and spoke rheems about "another reality, another way of living, to the culture around them. "The early church understood that their identity was rooted in Christ, not the surrounding culture". (The Vertical Self, 2010, Thomas Nelson, Nashville).
Sayers points out that he has observed "leaders unconsciously starting to confuse their calling with self-promotion as they were lured into the cult of cool". Driscoll seems to have fallen into that trap somewhat. And once exposed, it is amazing how quickly his fan base - made of hip Christians - has dramatically dropped off.
Whilst I believe we must be relevant to the culture we live in, we also need to ensure that our identity does not get shifted into something other than being "in Christ" - distinctly and counter-culturally "in Christ". And that is especially so in terms of modelling leadership identity and roles within Church so they don't become about personal brand celebrity seduced by the culture of cool, but stand for humility, grace, service, prayerfulness and open accountability to Christ and the wider Body of Christ. In short, we must not become "big headed" about ourselves, anxious about plugging our own statuses in the faith etc. but as Jesus said, become servants of all, without seeking self-reward.
So I think there are both cultural identity and leadership issues that need to be considered if we are going to answer the question about idol worship above adequately. And there is a lot, I think for today's church to grapple with if it wants to tackle the questions seriously.
Deleted by topic administrator 02-23-2016 01:54 AM
Andrew D ParkPerson was signed in when posted
03:13 AM ET (US)
ICDF has had a very long relationship with Colin Harbinson, and he spoke at several conferences. I think there is an article from him on the ICDF website. Several of the worship leaders prominent at conferences both in Australia and abroad have been heavily involved as well (Cindy and Doug Elztroth) at conferences and events.
Deleted by topic administrator 02-23-2016 01:54 AM
Andrew D ParkPerson was signed in when posted
08:22 PM ET (US)
Very good article written by David Ruis on this topic has been posted on the ICDF website by Networks Coordinator Johanna Cardinal called "Creativity and the Arts". Its now on our Networks blog.

It addresses the issue of pastors adversion to the arts.
Edited 09-10-2014 08:24 PM
Andrew D Park
05:50 AM ET (US)
Dancer, I think a key to what I was getting to was what you stated when you said: "I see the answer is primarily training, but also a bit of genuine self-examination on the part of dancers".
I'm also probing deeper into our philosophy of the arts as Christians and how it relates to ever-changing culture including how we respond to it as filtered through our understanding of Christ's priorities in mission and ministry in today's languages and world.
Andrew D Park
05:45 AM ET (US)
In answer to Noel's question, ICDF has a fairly long history of embracing indigenous people into its fellowship. One of the early pioneers of the fellowship even did her PHD about Australian Aboriginal culture - especially music and dance - during living among NT Aboriginals during the 1970's and there was significant involvement of First Nations American dancers from a variety of tribal backgrounds at the Dallas (USA) international conference in 2003. Quite a large group in CDF-Fiji who are very active. And over the years there have been times when Maori Christian dancers were involved in CDF-NZ, which has just started being rebooted. At the 2009 CDFA conference in the NT, there were quite a few Aboriginal participants and after the gathering a few of us (my wife Lucy, Debbie Bright [from NZ - Maori], a Teen Challenge leader and I visited a mission near Uluru where were joined with Aboriginals there for a dance celebration in which both our hosts and all the visitors, old, young, kids and many dogs were very happily involved. One of our key indigenous contacts was a lady called Aunty Ella Gordon (now passed on), who spoke at a CDFA conference in about 2000, and with whom we (Lucy, Anne [Lucy's Aboriginal dance partner and colleague in ministry at Redfern] and I formed what was a regularly a mission team when Aunty visited Sydney. However, both Lucy and I believe it is vital that we continue to engage proactively with Aboriginal people - not just the pastors and ministers among them - to collaborate in creative arts and other forms of ministry as integrated teams, where often those who take the lead are Aboriginals.
Whilst that indigenous engagement has occurred, we believe it needs to occur MORE, as a major priority of all CDFs around the world. So there remains a lot of work still for ICDF and its national CDFS to project develop in the area. Some members are `switched on' to the importance of that, but enough aren't to warrant challenging them more about it.
In regard to the `hipster pastor', `in crowd' and identifying as a `creative' issue, although I believe we need to be current, culturally relevant and to try to be `cutting edge' as artists, I am also mindful about the `tyranny of perfectionism' that sometimes prevails over the realm of the arts and dance in particular.
Jesus, we know from the Biblical text, was be no means regarded as `hip' or part of the `in crowd elites' during any of his 33 years as a child, carpenter/labourer, or roving prophet, messiah, and activist. He was artistic, in quite surprising ways (parables, drawings in the sand, using spittle in healing), but often his art offended the elites intensely because it didn't fit in with what they though was religiously cool or kosher to do. He was loved by the outcast, the unwanted, the excluded and `un-hip' of his prevailing culture - so much so that the elites found it too politically-religiously threatening and constantly baited him, conspired against him, and eventually killed him off. And yet, in retrospect after 2000 years of Christianity, his creative artistry and its major influence upon billions throughout the ages for the better into this day, is pretty cool. I think we can learn a lot from his radical un-hipness and his valuing of people - how treated them even though they weren't themselves the `hip people' who mainly took up His Message and followed him - in thinking about this topic we are reflecting about.
Yep. I think its okay to be creatively `hip', but not if it takes us in a different direction to Jesus. And in relation to my original question, I'm still wondering how we can be true to that Spirit of Christ's example, in teasing out deeper into this topic for values and solutions.
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