Does the Bible teach dancing as a praise and worship form for the New Testament church?
After 40+ years in Pentecostal churches and worship services, I have increasingly come to the conclusion that there is an acceptable diversity of opinion among Christians on this topic. It is certainly not an issue on which our salvation depends! Although praise dance seems to occur mostly in Pentecostal worship services, the practice — variously called praise dance, worship dance, or (occasionally) liturgical dance — is found in some churches outside the Pentecostal and charismatic traditions.
Some Christians sincerely embrace dancing as a praise and worship form, primarily drawing inspiration from the various Old Testament Scriptures showing dancing in a celebratory and/or praise-and-worship context. Others just as sincerely refrain from dancing in church worship services due to the absence of specific, direct teaching on, or concrete illustrations of, the subject in the New Testament. And still others opt for praise dance, or choose not to do so, out of differing personal preferences of how they best express the worship that is in their hearts for the Lord.
In a different context — on the topics of Sabbath observance and of meat-eating versus vegetarianism (Romans 14:1-6) — the apostle Paul graciously wrote to New Testament Christians: “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (vs. 5, KJV). I believe that the apostle’s advice can likewise be applied to the topic of praise and worship dance. “Do I?” or “Do I not?” is, I believe, graciously answered by the apostolic advice: “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” I do not believe that the Scriptures mandate praise and worship dance for the New Testament believer, nor do they discourage it.
To repeat my earlier statement, after 40+ years pondering this topic, I believe that it is best left to individual believers to determine, as the Scriptures speak to them, whether to incorporate praise and worship dance into their personal expressions of worship.
One caveat in closing — It is unfortunate that some Christians (both praise dancers and non-dancers alike) have become critical, even at times judgmental, of believers who differ from them on the subject of worship dancing. We must guard against applying any measuring rod to the lives and practices of believers other than the true standard we should all be pressing toward — “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13, KJV).
©2012, 2015, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.