Skip navigation

 

Over the last decade, body worship – a group dance incorporating sign language and cheesy Christian music – has been all the rage in the Asian American church.  And it is seemingly found only in the Asian American church: search body worship onYoutube and you get 373 hits – all of which are Asian American performances.

 So prevalent is body worship in Asian American churches, that many have identified it as an Asian American Christian distinctive.  Harvard students, for example, have even publicly stated their hope for body worship to be “a unique contribution [by the AAchurch] to the ethnic and cultural fabric of America.” 

So at first blush, it sounds great.  So much of the AA church is imitative of the white church, that anytime we can be creative and come up with something distinctive and uniquely AA, I want to jump up and holler.

Yet . . . Maybe it’s me. But I just don’t get it.  Whenever I see a youth group getting on stage to do their body worship thing, I cringe.  I feel embarrassed all over, for them, for me, for the church.  I break out in a cold sweat.  I start losing my religion.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not one of those stodgy, crotchety old geezers who preaches fire and brimstone against dancing.  I like dancing.  Like to watch it, like to do it.  I just don’t like this thing called body worship.

What the heck is body worship?  People tell me that it’s supposed to inspire greater thoughts about God – that’s why it’s called body worship.  Err . . . how do I put this politely? . . . no.  Watching the youth group body worship has never induced in me a scintilla of an iota of a smidgen of a lofty thought about God.

 

The following are my reasons why body worship should be cut out. 
(I was going to post a few illustrative examples from Youtube, but I didn’t want to embarrass any of the youth.  Just go to Youtube yourself, and only the smallest of samplings will prove my following points.)

 I am against body worship because:

  • It does absolutely nothing to edify the church.  I suppose you could give me all the religious jargon and theories behind how it is supposed to edify, but bottom-line is this: it is nothing more than a performance (usually mediocre at best).  As we know, worship is never about performing, anymore than we’d ask our pastor to perform a sermon, or our worship team to perform for us.  Entertainment does not equate to edification.
  • Watching teenage boys with sissified expressions of constipation on their faces with their hands clasped to their chests makes me want to inject them with a serious dose of testosterone.  I watch as they spread their skinny arms outlike a ballerina, their frilly t-shirts sashaying around them, and I secretly find myself wondering about a few of them.
  • It is boring. Okay?  Maybe no one has ever told you point-blank, because everyone is so polite in the church and so careful not to offend.  But here it is: body worship is boring.  The slow intro, the cheesy music, the same motions done over and over and over and over again . . . yawn.
  • It is evolving into hip-hop dance.  Some churches apparently received the memoabout how boring body worship is, because they have jazzed it up, quickened thepace, adrenalized the music.  It is now a group-synchronized hip-hop event.  I’m not against that – hey, it looks really fun, and if I were young, I’d be first to sign up.  But please, don’t call it body worship.  Call it what it is: a group dance.  When you have “body worship church competitions,” you are not worshiping at all; you are having a dance competition.  Nothing wrong with that.  But you prefer to call it body worship competition because the church would never approve of the youth group participating in a dance competition.  Bet you never thought you’d get away with it this long.
  • It is compromising. Men in the church (the married ones, the single ones, the teenage one, the spiritual ones)are now staring at young ladies dance before them.  These young ladies are often alluringly dressed in tight t-shirts (with plunging necklines) and tighter jeans, and the men are trying their best not to stare at the shimmying bodies and jiggling breasts.
  • It is embarrassing. I hate to say this, absolutely detest to have to admit this because it reinforces some negative stereotypes about our race, but we do not have dancing genes, if you know what I mean.  Out of synch, mechanical, choppy, flat-footed. There are many exceptions, of course, but if I may be frank, I’m tired of seeing a bunch of William Hungs doing body worship.

Hey, I happen to think that synchronized group dancing is a wonderful activity for the youth/fellowship group to do.  We have church basketball teams entering inter-church basketball tournaments.  Same with volleyball and softball.  They’re great for unity, great for personal relationships to grow.  So it should also be for synchronized dancing – it’s a great way for camaraderie to build between the guys and the gals, in a healthy group setting.  The excitement of competition further fosters unity.  But we shouldn’t pretend it is something it is not; we should not call worship something that so blatantly is not.

 

Advertisements

13 Comments

  1. I do not think it is fair for you to state that body worship is not worship. Worship does not only have to be in the form of praise and instruments. In fact, the only real instruments during the time of David, Jesus, and Paul were lyres and flutes. There were no pianos, guitars, especially electric, and definitely no drums. Yet they have become so commonplace in today’s church that they are accepted and even encouraged as means of worship. Everyone worships God differently. As long as their heart is in the right place and as long as their intentions are pure with only a desire to please and praise God, then that is worship. And that is beautiful. I have personally been touched by body worship. The reason you found it boring could be because they are mediocre. Perhaps they did not prepare enough. Maybe, their hearts were not completely committed to praising God. But have you even stopped to wonder at your own heart? You could listen to the most boring and round about sermon in the world, but if your heart is pure and you have a desire to grow and have a deeper spiritual connection with God, then you can find even the tiniest of truths and lesson from that sermon. Maybe you should think about opening your own heart and encouraging the youth to praise God with the gifts He has bestowed upon them instead of criticizing them.

  2. I second that. There’s a form of worship in dancing mentioned in the Bible. David danced, and he played instruments, sang. Many characters danced as their worship to God. As long as the heart is right, and their ultimate desire is to praise and glorify God by dancing, then let it be. If people perceive that in a wrong way (thinking that they want to show off or want to compete) then that’s something they themselves are dealing with in their own hearts, not the dancers/bodyworshippers.

  3. I just read your reply and found it interesting. This gives me a clue as to why some do not appreciate dance ministry in general. I just found Body Worship on You Tube very recently, and the first thing I saw was awesome. I was in a public library watching and the tears just streamed down my face as I sobbed. Worthy Is The Lamb was fantastic and powerful. The young ladies did NOT have on immodest clothing and their breasts did not jiggle! Their clothes were not sparkling or tight. Their expressions were so real as I could tell that they were truly in the Presence of a Mighty God and worshiping HIM with all their hearts. Did it edify? Ohhhh yes! I tried to watch another one but did not find it quite as good, although the energy was exciting to me. I love to see young people throw their energy into real worship. Worship comes from the heart. Dance is a means to worship the Lord, and while the mainstream churches do not understand it, nor the modern music that you call “cheesy”, I say that we must redeem the time and the important thing is what reaches other young people and not where the music “type” may have originated from. It is not important if it was hip-hop style or any other style. Styles do not come from the devil but from culture. Whatever these kids have going, I can tell that they do love the Lord. Whatever you consider performancy, that is because you do not understand dance ministry. Anytime we have a group of people, we must get in sync with one another. You cannot dance as a group and not rehearse it or co-ordinate your movements. If you had a group of people who were going to speak one right after the other, you would at least have to tell them what order they were going in. The same applies to dance. So it looks like a performance to you.. and in a sense it is.. for it was planned. But in the midst of what you call a “performance” is worship for the hearts of the dancers are uplifted to the King and that is all that they see at the time that they are on stage. I hope this helps to clarify some things, and if you do not like the Body Worship (I don’t happen to like the name either) group, then don’t watch it. There is no fruit of the spirit called “criticism”.

  4. Every time I hear the term “Body Worship” I think of worshipping a woman’s body. Not the Lord.

    The Fetish scene pretty much beat these guys to the punch, so the Church is gonna have to come up with another name for this type of dance.

  5. I went to you tube and I found plenty of non asian performances of worship dance. I didn’t see any scantily glad young girls. The ones I saw were appropriately dressed. I found nothing provocative in the movements at all. They were based on sign language. I found it enjoyable and entertaining. Nothing wrong with that. I enjoy and am entertained when our choir sings at church as well. God approved of David dancing. I was moved by the performance of Worthy is the Lamb the most. If you know sign language, you will recognize the movemenets. They are not boring, but inspiring. The deaf community can really appreciate this kind of worship.

  6. thx for the blog. At first, i was going to like your page for being so honest with the subject – It being a ‘cutting truth’ that most would not bring up -which makes it an intriguing blog. Yet, i’d rather say it’s a ‘cutting reality’. We have imperfections, we have flaws, we make mistakes its a reality. But body worship is truly not to be distracting but an expression to describe who God is..
    I’m not too sure what you’ve seen in AA churchs or body worship. I’ve grown up since pre-k in AAchurches and i’m quite familiar with it. From your point o’ view, it sounds like they who were worshipping weren’t appropiately dressed or maybe they did portray a constipated face. But three things come to mind, maybe these girls didnt dress properly. They should have been clothed to the neckline. Because thats what they have choruses wear and that’s how body worship should be. Not distracting but a focus on God. I’ve seen body worship even through one person once and she wasn’t even showing a hint of distraction (i personally find it just as offensive and repulsive when girls dress skimpy or distracting for guys cause its just stupid.) and still through her femme skirt with black leggings she was explaining who God was through her. I’d wish you’d seen it becuz its kinda beyond words; secondly, the guys looking so less masculine then they were created to be -with all their constipation faces going on. I’d say who are you to say what someone’s going to look like when their worshipping? For all you andi know when we get a chance to worship God in heaven we may as very well be having our faces in our hands kneeling crying in awe and wonder of God’s glory… Lastly, although we might see or experience things that christian people do or display are just plain wrong and offensive things like this body worshipping thing. It doesn’t mean that it is like that. Like how we Christians aren’t perfect but we try to do the right thing. It doesn’t mean thats who or what christ is. Body worship was poorly shown through your AA church -they forgot some aspects or yet maybe even all AAchurches fail at portraying body worship correctly. It still doesn’t mean that’s what it is. Maybe you should look at what it is not. Body worship is not suppose to be distracting and truly is not, at the very root of it. Christians are imperfect ppl but at the very root it we are examples of Christ. Sometimes failed attempts but it doesnt mean thats who Christ is. This, i would say, is the inconvenient truth (no reference to al gore’s grn vid intended lol).

    • someone who's church puts on body worship EVERY december :(
    • Posted January 1, 2012 at 11:01 pm
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    totally with you bro… thanks for sharing this so i don’t feel like i’m the only one that gets all sorts of weird feelings just THINKING about it…. yeeesh!

  7. Hi, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your website in Chrome, it looks
    fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.

    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, wonderful blog!

  8. Hello, i think that i saw you visited my website so i came to go back the desire?

    .I am attempting to find issues to enhance my site!

    I guess its good enough to make use of some of your concepts!
    !

  9. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment.

    I believe that you outht to write more about thjis topic, iit
    might not be a taboo subject but typically people ddo noot speak aout such subjects.
    To the next! All the best!!

  10. good points, i agree with you although I would ask you to go a step further. 1. do some research on the HIstory of body worship. you’ll find out that there is very little. WHERE does it come from? you will also find that very interesting. And then, in reaction to the comments, 2. explain how David’s dancing was not a norm of worship, 3. and also how personal “experience” does not equate objective principle of worship. (subjective vs. objective). often times we concentrate on ourselves so much that even worship becomes a mere reflection of what we desire in our hearts and what makes us happy and excited. Funny thing is that most Christians will say, at least with their mouth, that it’s all about God.

  11. I got exposed to body worship at UCLA Korean Bible Study in the early 1990’s. For me it was something new and different during praise and worship. You see my background was Baptist in a caucasion setting. All we did was sing with our voices, that’s it , very conservative. We didn’t stand, clap, raise our hands. I was searching to be involved in our meetings, but did not have any talents. I couldn’ t sing, dance or play a musical instrument. I was also extremely guiet, shy , and verbably passive. I started by practicing daily, the movements, which were based on American sign language. liked most people who start this unigue form of expression, it was just fun, different, and just physical motions. Something changed when I was a sister in Christ, perform. I knew that her performance was only for an audience of one , Jesus Christ. no one else. From that point on , my religion of motions , transformed into an intimate relationship of worship. I’ved changed the name from Body Worship to Artistic Creative Expression or Artistic Creative Worship. It’s a mixture of American Sign Language, Pantomime, and Dance. It’s a fusion of all three in one performance. For me, I studied all 3 disciplines. it starts with your heart and motive, then lots and lots of practice. Sad to say, I can see the perspective from the person who started this topic. I wish more people would take this form of worship more seriously and realize that the performance is for the king of kings. I’ved experience power and reverence and the moving of God. I’ved also experienced only human emotionism and nothing else. Every movement has to come from the heart done with passion. If you have any questions about this style of worship you can email me.

  12. let me say this, worship in my definition means to bring praise to The Lord. And body referring to dancing. So therefore people dance to praise The Lord. There are many different ways to praise Him/Worship Him. In scriptures you see the many forms, through singing, through preaching any worship is encouraged because you are doing it for The Lord and not for an audience. And body worship is another form. Body worship can reach out to some and not to others. So don’t bash on it if it doesn’t work for you. I would also like to say that your reason arent biblically based. Your reasons are from judgements. Because “it is boring” that is not a Christlike statement. They are doing it for God and by saying it is boring is judgment. Let me add in that they are praising the one and true God and you say it’s boring, let me convict you with this, by saying that you are saying praising God is boring. Also it is embarrassing ? It is embarrassing to praise God ? Okay okay, you are embarrassed of your fellow youth members to praise God ?! You as a brother or sister, whatever you are, in scriptures we are called to encourage them. If you deny Christ because of embarrassment , His father will deny you. Also going along with your website name , the cutting truth, you are opposite from that . Truth comes from the scriptures and nothing on this post involves anything from scriptures. Therefore none of this is truth. Reflect upon this post and think if God had read this post how would He feel . Don’t state something and call it truth if you don’t have it coming from Gods words. Also don’t bash on something people use to glorify God, cause you are bashing on God. Is that Christlike of you ? You don’t know where their hearts are coming from And if their worship reached out to millionsof people in the world. So don’t say that it doesn’t edify the church. This is coming from my perspective , a perspective of being the audience of a body worship and from a body worshipper. May God bless you and help you see from truth.


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By the road narrows - intro to body worship on 14 Jul 2010 at 3:15 pm

    […] came across the blog “the cutting truth” that perceives body worship as “a group dance incorporating sign language and cheesy Christian music.” […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: