It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas – the start of a new school year! Parents everywhere rejoiced as their kids hopped on the bus a few days ago.
As the school year begins, churches will resume their Wed night programs. Last year we tried something new – AWANA. AWANA is a kids club usually hosted at Baptist churches. Its name means Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed, from 2 Timothy 2:15. It lays particular emphasis on memorizing Scripture.
We were blown away! As a former pastor, I was heavily involved in our churches’ Wed night programs. Believe me, AWANA is better. It does cost about $50 per child for the handbook and uniform. But it’s well worth the money.
We just registered our daughters for another year. Here are a few reasons you should register your kids too:
Our six-year-old says she doesn’t like church because “there’s too much sitting.” That’s a fair complaint. After all, what six-year-old wants to sit in school all day, and then sit in church all night?
AWANA breaks up the boredom. There are times for teaching and reciting Scripture. But each week also has a lengthy game time. There are regular theme nights and parties. And there are prizes kids can buy with “AWANA bucks” that they earn by reciting Scriptures.
It Builds Faith
Our eight-year-old says she doesn’t like church because she hears the same lessons over and over. She isn’t being taught anything new. To be fair, I used to be a pastor. So she’s been to church A LOT.
AWANA helps with this too. Each child receives a handbook with weekly lessons. These lessons are professionally written. They progress through the Bible while presenting the gospel in a way that is relevant for children. They follow a deliberate scope and sequence so your child learns something new every week. The best part is that each lesson ends with a memory verse.
Both our daughters completed their workbooks last year. That means they each memorized nearly fifty Scriptures! In the short-term, nothing could build their faith more.
But AWANA builds long-term faith as well. Graduates are more likely to go to church, read the Bible, and evangelize as they get older.
It Builds Families
Pastors often say it’s the parents’ job to raise their children in the faith, not the church’s. And that’s true. But it frustrates me that they don’t give us practical ways to do this. All they say is, “Bring your family to church.”
It seems Christian parents want to build their kids’ faith; they just don’t know how. Beyond going to church and reading Bible stories, how can we get our kids interacting with God’s Word?
AWANA handbooks help with this. The lessons are completed at home. We read them with our younger daughter, and check them after our older daughter finishes them. And we help them memorize and review their Scriptures.
A Note to Pastors
As pastors, we tend to take a small view of God’s kingdom. We limit it to our denomination or even our own church! That makes us unwilling to endorse or attend other churches. So we recreate the wheel. Rather than combining efforts and working together, each church offers its own version of the same programs.
But is it best to compete this way? If a nearby church has a better program, wouldn’t it be better (and easier) to attend theirs instead of offering your own?
There is probably a church in your town that offers AWANA. Encourage the parents in your church to register their kids. And reassign your Children’s Minister. Their time would be better spent serving in another church’s AWANA program. And it would strengthen the bond between your churches.
After all, what are we trying to accomplish? Do we simply want to “beat” other churches? Or do we want to see our children grow as much as possible in the Lord?
If your church doesn’t offer AWANA clubs, share this with your pastor!
If it does, let me know how it has benefited your kids with a comment below!