Several years ago I was asked what would Awana have to do to make me stop using their material. I see a trend growing, that if it continues, could be the catalyst for that departure.
Most of the comments have been around the new T&T material. There is a phrase that I have heard used by Awana leaders, commanders (Awana Ministry Directors), and missionaries. Generally the local club is parroting what the missionary has stated. The phrase, “Awana is not going to police the local club”.
I have seen a missionary post the following,
If a church and commander wants to record the progress of a T&T kid who is saying the verses and doing the work in an essentials book, and if that church wants to award that child a first-book or excellence award, Awana Clubs is not going to stop them.
I heard from another missionary that,
Churches are encouraged to be creative in covering material, and given authority to edit the program. …
A church may combine or omit sections to fit their calendar … If a clubber completes a church’s program, the clubber has earned the book award.
I have listened to clubs adding and deleting requirements to complete a handbook all under the guidance from Awana that the local church, “can do what they want, they will not be policed”.
My question is, where have the base standards of Awana gone? Is completion of the handbook required for handbook awards or not? Can handbook awards be issued for doing the Essentials handbook? It seems the answer from Awana is not consistent. In webinars and videos it is clearly stated that the Essentials book does not qualify for handbook awards, yet missionaries are publicly stating that the local club can because they will not be policed.
In a Facebook group, a commander (ministry director) when reminded that the Essential books did not qualify for handbook awards responded, I know but I am doing it anyway.
I am not talking about options for the bring a friends section, special verse labels, or other items that Awana has officially provided options to help children. I am talking about the basics of Awana, the standards that all clubs should follow.
I have been taught that integrity is what you do when no one is looking. If the posted speed limit is 65 and I know that the roadway is not being policed, then is it legal to drive 80 mph? No, the base standard still exists. Just because the road is not policed does not make it permissible to exceed the posted limit. Likewise, just because the local club is not being policed by Awana, the base requirements should be followed.
If base standards of Awana are disregarded, with missionary endorsement, then Awana has lost credibility with the colleges that offer scholarships. It puts clubs/churches in awkward scenarios as children move from one club to another if one club offers handbook awards for the Essentials book and the new club only provides those same handbook awards for actually completing the full handbook (the base requirement). If there are no base standards, than there is no solid foundation (other than the Gospel) for clubs.
On a personal level, as I share what Awana has stated is expected as a base standard, it is disheartening to receive a response from a missionary, or Awana leader, that those base standards do not really matter, a club can do what they want because they will not be policed. At that point, the standard is gone. A club can choose to provide as many helps as they want, remove sections they think are too hard, or add sections they think should be required, because Awana is not going to police them.
If integrity is what one does when no one is watching; then as clubs modify base requirements because they are not being policed, they are reflecting a lack of integrity. If Awana permits missionaries to advise clubs that they can disregard base requirements, because they will not be policed, then all requirements should be abandoned. Training becomes moot when at the end of training about the base requirements a missionary, or trainer, concludes with, but you can do whatever you want, you will not be policed.
Will this disturbing trend continue, where missionaries provide permission to modify the material requirements and base standards because they will not be policed? Or will we see missionaries supporting the base requirements, admonishing clubs to follow them, whether they are policed or not?
I hope that it is the latter.