The Lord of the Dance

The Lord of the Dance

A ballet school might not be an obvious ministry outreach for most church plants. But when the leaders of MISSIO DEI COMMUNITY in Salt Lake City discovered that several trained ballet dancers were a part of their church, they equipped those dancers to lead a program at the church. Because Salt Lake City has a strong culture of supporting the arts, parents tend to be very active in pursuing art programs for their children.

Kid’s Community Ballet (KCB) started 3 years ago as a free introduction to ballet. KCB developed into an opportunity to bring children of various backgrounds together. Alyssa Bertelson, program director explains, “I have kids who come from upper middle class families. I have kids who come from very low-income families. Hopefully, dance can be a part of the bridge between communities."

Over the years, the KCB program multiplied. More volunteers and more classes were added. The students showed a desire for more intense training. At the same time that the enrollment at KCB increased, Missio Dei was renovating more building space. This provided an opportunity to create Rise Up, a more rigorous ballet program. Rise Up now leases space from Missio Dei to have classes multiple days each week.

Over 90 youth, children to high school age, are enrolled in the two ballet programs. Fewer than 10 of those children have come from Missio Dei's congregation. Alyssa shares how this provides opportunities in the city, “All of the teachers are followers of Jesus, and that informs how we see the world. In classical ballet, fear can often be a motivator. Yet our teachers see this program as a discipleship opportunity. How often do you get to spend 5-6 hours a week with a teenager? We get so many opportunities for conversation.”

KCB and Rise Up are unique programs developed through the talents of members at Missio Dei. Other church plants are also leveraging the gifts, talents, and abilities of members to share them in their cities.

There are many examples of this kind of creative engagement from churches with their cities: Several leaders at TRACE CHURCH in Colorado Springs, including the lead pastor, Aaron Pennington, have backgrounds in health and fitness. As a result, the church’s summer program for children in their city partners with local health organizations to create a summer fitness program. Over 100 children are attending this week's program! NEW CITY CHURCH makes space available for local artists in Phoenix, Arizona. Over the last ten years, they have become a significant part of the city’s monthly art walks.  Two years ago, MIAMI CHURCH asked if they could provide volunteers for a local festival. Their involvement proved so valuable that now every year the city is the one asking the church how it can be even more involved in community activities.


  • What are the gifts, talents, and abilities God placed in your church?
  • How can our churches better encourage our people to be servant examples in our cities?

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Jamie Larson