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Is it ok to include dancing as part of a worship service?

Dance is mentioned on many occasions in Scripture. The first appearance of God’s people dancing as an act of worship is found in Exodus 15:20. “Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing.”

This joyful dance to the Lord, led by Miriam, followed Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea and celebrated Israel’s new found freedom from slavery. However, dancing is not always presented in a positive light in the Bible. Soon after Miriam’s dance of praise, the Israelites were found dancing before a golden calf in worship (Exodus 32:19). Thus, dancing is a mode of expression that can be used for good or evil. (See 2 Samuel 6:16 and 1 Samuel 30:16.) 

The Psalms offer a unique look at dance as an act of worship. In Psalm 30:11 the psalmist says, “You turned my wailing into dancing.” Psalm 149:3 encourages the use of dancing to worship God:

“Let them praise his name with dancing!” Psalm 149:3

Likewise, Psalm 150:4 urges, “Praise him with tambourine and dancing!” Since dance is not mentioned in the New Testament as a form of worship, many Christians question whether dance should be incorporated into church services, the concern being the association of dance with sinful activities. Their concern is that if dance is used in worship, it could be seen as approving dance in other situations that do not honor God. 

Although the above concern is well taken, we believe that dance can be properly utilized in a praise service, just as other art forms are, such as instrumental music, singing, drama, etc. as long as it is worshipful, God-focused, and praiseworthy. Dance should be helpful to the entire congregation, not a distraction or simply a means of self-expression. Anything in a praise service, including dance, that distracts from the focus on God and Jesus should be left out. Each congregation bears the responsibility to structure its praise service in a way that honors God. If utilized correctly with reverence, dance is a beautiful art form that can bring glory to God.

To learn more about ways to praise God listen to, “Are Praise and Worship Necessary To Be a Faithful Christian?”