The Use of Dance and Other Creative Arts in Missions and Evangelism

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A Christian Dance Fellowship
performance.

Christian Dance Fellowship of Malaysia (CDFM) began in the late 1970s when a Christian woman, Mary Jones, had a vision to start a revolution of taking dance and creative movement and giving it back to God. She and several others were instrumental in pioneering the first Christian dance fellowship, now known as the International Christian Dance Fellowship (ICDF). Today there are Christian dance fellowships on every continent and in more than twenty-five countries; all operate with the same purpose and vision to use dance and the creative arts for the glory of God.

CDFM was established in1999 after a regional camp. The event drew many participants who desired to use dance expression in worship, ministry and evangelism. The overwhelming response set the tone for the birth of the CDFM; I (Rev. Karen Liew) was then approved as the national coordinator by the ICDF. Since that time, the fellowship has grown into an established and interdenominational organization that links individuals, groups, churches and performing arts organizations involved in dance and related movement arts ministry not only in Malaysia but also internationally.  

Aims and Activities of the Dance Fellowship
CDFM is a charter member of the ICDF and a member of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia (NECF). The aim of the fellowship is to serve as a consultation center to educate and network and to provide resources, training, encouragement and fellowship. It also provides the vision to use dance and other related arts movement as an expression of the Christian faith and unity. Membership is open to those who accept the principles and beliefs of the Christian faith and support the aims of the fellowship.

CDFM has become one of the key Christian organizations in Malaysia. Although Malaysia is not a Christian nation and the population of believers is only a small fraction of society, the Christians in the country are on fire for God and are continuously serving and working together to build the kingdom of God.

Thus, CDFM wants to cooperate with all the churches in the country, regardless of denomination. Because not all believers are inclined toward dance and the performing arts as suitable for ministry and evangelism, this has not always been an easy task. The majority of believers in Malaysia are of Asian origin; hence, there are many pre-conceived notions, largely arising from cultural norms and beliefs, which question the appropriateness of utilizing movement to worship God.

However, there also exists a large number of believers who fully support the idea of dance and arts to glorify God. Many churches have established dance teams. CDFM has been instrumental in bringing together all the Christian dancers from their respective backgrounds to combine their talents and desire to dance for the Lord. Many dancers have been trained to perform at Christian rallies, concerts, workshops and seminars such as the Emmanuel Celebration 1999, Breakthrough Rally 2000, Redeeming Dance Seminar 2000, Dance in His Beauty 2001, Ad Deum Fest 2004 and Rejoice Dance Week 2005. CDFM, along with other church-based dance fellowships, have been offering concerts that rejuvenate Christian worship and witness in the country.

Dance fellowship members also performed in opening ceremony of the eleventh World Evangelical Christian Fellowship General Assembly. The dance troupe of CDFM formed a major part of the opening night performances. The dance served as a bridge for mission outreach; ministers of the Malaysian government, ambassadors and high commissioners and eight hundred Christian leaders from over eighty nations around the world attended the event.

The use of arts in missions and evangelism is growing and in Malaysia it is impacting more and more people for Christ. With the continuing growth of the CDFM, it is perhaps no surprise that the fellowship has been chosen to host the sixth International Christian Creative Arts Conference in July 2006.

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Hosting the Sixth International Christian Creative Arts Conference
The sixth International Christian Creative Arts Conference is being jointly organized by the CDFM and the ICDF. The conference will be held 10 – 16 July at the Genting Highlands Convention Centre in Genting Highlands, Malaysia. This conference is held once every three years. Previous conferences have been held in Israel, England, South Africa, Australia and the United States.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Into All the World” and is taken from Matthew 28:19. Revelation 7 talks about all nations and tribes around the throne of God. Thus, the vision of the conference is to teach and disciple the nations, and Christian artists and dancers in particular, to utilize their God-given talents, creative skills and arts for world globalization and the proclamation of the gospel of Christ.

Delegates at the conference will be given the opportunity to perform at the outreach project “Dance Village,” which will feature a collection of representative dance works from around the world. Dance Village is created from a desire to provide an evangelistic platform that pools together professional dance companies, institutions, choreographers and dancers of different genres and cultures. 

Nearly five hundred people are expected to come listen to international panel speakers, teachers and delegates from approximately thirty-five countries. Dr. Colin Harbinson, convener of the 2004 Lausanne Forum for World Evangelization on Redeeming the Arts Issue Group at Pattaya, Thailand, will speak on how media, arts, dance, culture and entertainment can be dedicated and redeemed afresh from a biblical framework for world evangelism.

Some of the objectives of the conference are to:

  1. present a biblical worldview of the arts relating to worship, ministry and mission and
  2. develop a unity of artistic expression by reclaiming the arts for the glory of God and his purpose.

The conference hopes to provide global networking, encouragement, vision and fellowship for the body of Christ involved in the creative arts and dance ministries. We want to celebrate life, hope and beauty through the diversity of multi-genres, cross-cultural evangelism and the international exchange of ideas relevant to a changing world.

There will be a worship session each morning and daily workshops that focus on dance, movement arts, music, drama, mime, clowning and puppetry. There will also be special afternoon sessions for dance exchanges, choreographic clinics, panel discussions, forums, issue groups and video or paper presentations. Concerts will be held every night. In addition, a fine arts and photography exhibition highlighting Malaysian batik, crafts, artworks and paintings will be held. Artwork from other countries will also be displayed. 

It is also our sincere prayer that many eyes will be opened to the wonderful opportunity of using the arts to worship God. We also pray that this will lead others to use the arts in evangelism. We would like to extend our invitation to anyone who would like to attend and participate in this long-awaited conference. May we all continue to strive together in reclaiming the arts for the glory of God.


Rev. Karen Liew is chairperson and host for the Sixth International Christian Creative Arts Conference 2006. She is the national coordinator of the Christian Dance Fellowship of Malaysia, and was a member of the Redeeming the Arts Issue Group at the Lausanne 2004 Forum for World Evangelization in Thailand and a member of the Arts and Sports Issue group for Transform World 2005 in Jakarta, Indonesia.