When people talk politics, a topic that often comes up is wasteful government spending. A favorite topic of discussion, the bridge to nowhere in Alaska. There are other bridges, where money ran out, or a future expansion was planned but never finalized, etc, and the bridge ends up being built, but ultimately doesn’t go anywhere.
As I approached the Blogger Summit, I did “background checks” on the other bloggers (looking at their blogs and twitter accounts) and quickly noticed that none of them, except for maybe one, had experience as an Awana leader. They had no context about Awana except for their children being involved and maybe other small portions here and there. They had not seen things that Awana had tried in the past and their outcomes. They came in wide eyed and eager for a peek behind the scenes.
With this being my fourth trip to Awana, and working alongside missionaries and others in Awana, I already had somewhat of a knowledge of the behind the scenes activity at Awana. I knew their history that others did not know. I arrived at Awana a little concerned and skeptical about what I would hear.
During a session with the bloggers where direction for Awana was being given by Michayla White and Zac Wendland, but not many solid specifics. I began to have “flashbacks” to initiatives I had seen come and go. I asked a tough question that only I could ask and if you’ve been involved in Awana for several years might have asked as well. Here’s the synopsis of the question:
About 10 years ago, Awana held what they called a vision conference where they cast a vision of building a bridge from where we are, to where we want to be in children’s ministry. That vision floundered and it became a bridge to nowhere. How can we be sure that this isn’t going to become a bridge to nowhere?
I think it caught them a little off guard. But do you remember this image from the vision conference, or Awana ministry conferences in subsequent years?
Awana wanted children’s ministry to have a greater focus and to get parents involved. There were even four pillars to this bridge.
- An equipping church
- A nurturing home
- A shepherding adult
- A developing Biblical worldview
I sat through that conference screaming AMEN! at the vision, but then it floundered and fizzed out. It became a bridge to nowhere.
I do not say that to be negative about Awana, but it is part of the path that they have traveled and learned much from the experience.
They answered it well. They were not around Awana when the Vision Conference was held. And that is what it was, a vision conference. It was clearly stated at that time that it was a vision, but they weren’t sure how to do it, or get there. This time was different. It is not just a vision, but there is a plan in place to get there and to implement it. They see what’s ahead and it kind of “freaks them out”. They shared how there is unity throughout Awana as this moves forward. They shared how God is orchestrating different things (that only God could do) to help make this a reality.
As I talked to missionaries on Wednesday, I candidly asked them their view of what they were hearing. How it may or may not have the sound of the vision conference so many years ago, and the consistent voice was that this time was different. There is a unity and a peace working in this direction that has not been seen in Awana for many years. That helped reassure me that this would not be a bridge to nowhere. This was going to go somewhere, and that is into the world to reach kids.
I will admit that being a longtime “Awana person”, I have reservations, but I have seen the heart of those working on this, and they genuinely want to reach people with the Gospel. Their passion is unmistakable, and it is contagious. I am optimistic that this will progress into something substantial that will allow God to use Awana to reach children and youth for the Kingdom of God.
Keep watching for more information as it becomes available over the next several weeks.