Unexpected Lessons: Swing Dancing

If you happen to follow me on Twitter (@mlstarner) or on Facebook, you probably notice that I’m often talking about swing dancing. Over the summer, a few folks at Journey and I decided to venture downtown Grand Rapids and check out the Grand Rapids Original Swing Society (or GROSS, for short). In the summer, they have swing dancing outside at one of the parks downtown. I had seen pictures on Facebook and I’ve always wanted to check it out, but never had the chance. We finally did and have been lovin’ it ever since!  It’s a blast to learn new dances (So far, we’ve learned East Coast Swing, Rumba, Cha-Cha-Cha, Waltz and a whole bunch of line dances) and to hang out with a very eclectic crowd.

I got thinking about it the other day that swing dancing, or just dancing in general, is a lot like our spiritual walk.

Greg & Kate dancing at the G.R.O.S.S.

  • You can go it alone at times, but it’s better with others. Yes there are dances that you can do by yourself. But add more people or a partner and things are much more enjoyable. Same with faith. Sure, I can worship God and study alone. And while those are important things to do, it’s also important to come together as a church for the support and growth that can’t happen alone.
  • There’s more than just the basics. Each week, they teach the basic steps and a couple of basic turns. Enough for you to get out on the floor and have fun. It’s exciting when you finally get the basic steps down without tripping all over yourself. But you can’t do just the basic step forever. Well, you could, but you would look pretty silly. For Christians, it means going beyond Sunday morning and “one-day-a-week” Christianity. No matter how engaging or spiritually “deep” (by the way, I hate that phrase) the Sunday message is, if it just stays in that hour on Sunday, it’s useless.
  • You discover opportunities all around you. Now that I know a bunch of different dances, I find myself listening to music in my car radio and trying to determine if it’s a Rumba or Cha-Cha-Cha. So with faith, the more we use it, the more opportunities we see around us. Maybe it’s a chance to serve, maybe a chance to share, but we see them much better with open eyes.
  • There comes a time when it’s no longer all about you. When we first started going to swing dancing, we had no clue what to do. I had taken lessons back in high school, but that was eons ago. They walked us through the basics slowly and we (and a whole bunch of other newbies) got it. Next week, we joined in the lessons again, and we nailed it a lot faster. Toward the end of summer, we were doing the lessons, but more to help the people around us who were new. We had taken the lessons so many times that we could have taught it.  This is something we’re trying to help people get at Journey. There was a time when it was all about you. You were new and things were designed with you in mind. Now, you’ve been around for a while, you maybe have decided to become a partner and that this is your place. Great! Now you have to realize that it’s no longer about you. Did we stop learning how to dance? No. There are still opportunities for those who want to go farther and learn new things to do so. Often times, it’s away from the main dance area and later in the night. The focus is still introducing new people to the joys of swing dancing and every night starts out with that opportunity. And, those of us who have been there and get it help! At Journey, there comes a point when it’s no longer all about you. It doesn’t mean you stop growing or are all on your own, but you join us in growing ourselves AND others.
  • And, of course, there’s always a next step!

About Matthew Starner

Matthew Starner is pastor of Journey of Faith Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they help people take their next step on their journey with Jesus.

One Comment

  1. My goodness…. this is just popping up everywhere! First the text message that you've been blogging, then the shared link, now a note! You LOVE swing dancing – Jesus correlations!

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