I’ve embarked on an amazing journey with God opening doors and drawing me into a ministry that has my name and His fingerprints all over it. I've seen worship dance transforming countenances and congregations as well as drawing people together in fellowship with one another and in worshipping the Lord. I want to share my story–the story of Joyous Abandon–because I want to encourage those of you who may have a heart for worship dance. Or, perhaps, the Lord will give you that desire right now!
Early in my life, the Lord planted a seed—love of rhythm, music, and collaboration—in my heart where it lay dormant. For years, my family—husband and kids—had weathered some heart-wrenching and challenging times that had left me weary and longing to rediscover my joy. Then, suddenly, God began watering that almost-forgotten seed.
Our family attended church one Sunday while visiting friends in Kansas City, in the fall of 2002. Upon entering the sanctuary, I noticed a woman in the back waving colorful flags. I’d never seen anything like it. When I went to investigate, the woman handed me a flag and invited me to follow along. Wow! Later, the flag woman agreed to meet with me and give me a brief tutorial before I headed back to Iowa. She told me about flags, streamers, and billows and gave me web sites to explore. My long-neglected love of rhythm, music, and movement stirred from deep within me. The seed was sprouting!
Being a seamstress, I went home, started sewing flags, and studied web sites about movement in worship. The following spring, a friend and I were waiting to do a Lenten drama for a nearby congregation. A local dance ministry went before us. Once again, I'd never seen anything like it. Later, I learned the beautiful white dresses and colorful vests were made by Pat Anderson of Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Then I learned that Pat would be at an Iowa outdoor “Jesus Fest” in a few weeks. When we met there, I invited her to come to my church in Humboldt and host an ecumenical event for area churches, introducing flags and basic movements of worship dance.
In September, Pat and her team came on a Friday night and shared a choreographed worship piece. That Saturday, she led participants from the day-long workshop in a evening worship dance presentation open to the community. Afterward, despite lower-than-hoped-for attendance, I expected my phone to start ringing with people eager to join me. After all, I had my white dress and Pat as my mentor. Clearly, God had opened this door; surely, He’d bring people. One day a friend told me, “You’ll have to call them.” So, flipping through the pictorial directory, I asked God who to call. Three names. Those phone calls confirmed God’s calling.
When asked, “Would you be interested in being part of a dance ministry?” each woman emphatically responded, “Yes!”
Later, one woman said, “Your call was an answer to 10 years of prayer.” God’s amazing!
Weekly rehearsals began with women from their 30’s to mid 60’s, representing several area congregations. Through the years, men (young and old) and children (age five to teens) got involved. No auditions. The Holy Spirit moved, and people came. People moved in and out of the group. The two-hour rehearsals always began with a time of fellowship and prayer followed by collaborative worship movement to a hymn or praise song. Often someone asked to do a piece just one more time. I thought, “Lord, when’s the last time people said they didn’t want to leave your sanctuary?”
We bought the dress pattern from Pat Anderson and made our own worship dance dresses. We sewed, fellowshipped, and worked on choreography. My pastor husband kept asking, “When will you be ready for a worship service?”
I kept saying, “We must finish the dresses.” He just didn’t understand. By December, he was the sound man for our first dress rehearsal. Afterward, in the sound booth, I found him with tears in his eyes.
As he hugged me, he said, “Now I understand about the dresses.” Every time I wear my dress, someone says, “You look like an angel.”
With more and more invitations to dance in churches represented by our members, we felt we needed a name for our ministry. In my life, I’d learned that I must choose to forgive, to totally let go. For me, the name “Joyous Abandon” reverberated in my spirit and fit our approach to worship dance and our all-glory-to-God praise with flags and banners. In my original Joyous Abandon group, only one person had any dance training. Purely through God’s grace, not through natural skills, each one came before God’s throne to glorify Him in worship as beloved children secure in the knowledge of His love.
As I write this in 2010, I recall my sadness at moving away and leaving behind Joyous Abandon. Nevertheless I’m blessed to know that ministry continues in Humboldt. Meanwhile, God has again gathered like-minded people; another Joyous Abandon is springing up where I live now. It’s another ecumenical ministry of people whose hearts are drawn to praise the Lord in this way. I continue to be amazed and blessed by the ways God uses people’s passions and constantly renews them for ministry in His kingdom.
I’d love to help you launch a Joyous Abandon worship dance ministry in your community or congregation. Through flags, billows, and streamers of various colors, a worship-dance ministry visually displays God’s message in music and song. The Lord speaks to our spirits, and as we seek God-inspired movements, we allow Him to speak to people’s hearts. People of Joyous Abandon seek to glorify and praise God with heart, mind, soul, and strength.
So, if you desire to take this step of faith, my prayer is that the Lord will draw kindred spirits and unite you in one great fellowship of faith—worshipping the King of Glory. For encouragement and more information, you may contact me at