Insight from a Children's Pastor & Awana Commander

Grace in Action vs Ultimate Adventure 1

As I listen to people talk about the new Grace in Action, one of the complaints that I hear is that there are not as many sections to complete, and that there are not as many verses to memorize. This weekend, I decided to take a hard look at the two books, Mission Grace in Action (MGIA) and Ultimate Adventure 1 (UA1), and compare them. I went through and counted all of the verses in the “memorize” section of each book. When I counted verses, I did not initially count references (I later did and they are shown next to the verse count), but actual verses. For example, Ephesians 2:8-9 was counted as two verses, and a portion of a verse (like Revelation 4:8b) was considered one verse.


Here is what I discovered:


  • MGIA: 30
  • UA1: 56

Questions/Topics and “answers”

  • MGIA: 4 Questions/Topics, 26 Responses
  • UA1: 4 Questions, 32 answers

Search Sites vs Explore (compared because they are similar in nature – Bible Study)

  • MGIA: 26
  • UA1: 7

And what you’ve been waiting for….. Verses Memorized

  • MGIA: 36 (26 references)
  • UA1: 37 (34 references)

I did not compare the number of definitions in each book, which help a clubber understand the verse, because they are not required. I can share that as I work on the study guides for Bible Quizzing, I see more definitions listed in the Mission Grace in Action handbook.


My conclusion. The clubs who talk about their high achievers learning more verses really are not. They are simply passing more sections in the Ultimate Adventure books. The Bible memorization is similar, with more Bible study. Instead of activities spread out in multiple sections, they are now condensed in each section.

We can focus on sections passed, or verses learned. It all depends on where you place your focus. If you want clubbers to complete more sections, then Grace in Action will not work for you. If you focus on verses learned, then the transition should be easier for you since the number of verses are similar.

Do the numbers surprise you?

Do the numbers change your perspective of the new Mission Grace in Action material?

I am interested in your thoughts.


The Author


Add a Comment
  1. No – the answers do not surprise me. I, myself had compared the 2 books after reading many posts on the Commanders website and also having to defend the new curriculum to to parents and others in our own church. I do not believe in any way that Awana has as some say “dummied” down the curriculum. I love the explore sections – it really is getting the clubbers in the Bible and finding answers for themselves. Actually seeing where things are found in the Buble instead of being told. As for high achievers – I found that many (not all) of these students are “good at memorizing ” but they necessarily cannot exIn the verse and what it means. I truly like the new curriculum! Was it a difficult transition? In some ways – yes – I think the biggest part is knowing how to effectively use the time allotment you have as a club.

    1. Thank you for responding Theresa! I have to admit that I was surprised that the verse count was so close. On the surface you think less sections, less verses and so I was pleasantly surprised to see the result.

      I really had not compared the two books this way until I was involved in a discussion about the Mission Grace in Action book at a conference recently.

      I agree that the hardest part of the transition is getting past the “finishing lots of sections” to absorbing the meaning and understanding the verse and point of the section.
      I agree that the Bible study in each section helps the child understand the verse and why they are memorizing it, not just reciting it.

  2. I love the new GIA curriculum. The focus on getting clubbers into their Bibles is awesome. We have our leaders and clubbers working together on the Explore portion together during small group. We “do our verses” before club. Many of my clubbers are taking on the Silver extra credit on their own time. How incredible is it that kids are getting excited about digging into the Bible for answers! Memorizing God’s word is still a priority but studying His word has gained a greater priority.

    1. Agree with David’s comment completely. Its all about studying God’s word and discipleship that are most important. The super-achievers still have the opportunity to memorize more verses in the Gold extra credit sections if they (or their parents) desire.

    2. I also really like the effort with the Bonus Box portions to get the parents involved in their child discipleship on a weekly basis. We award these portions the same a regular section to encourage the clubber to engage their parents.

    3. Thank you for commenting Dave! I agree, I like that the clubbers are opening up their Bibles. How many times do we encourage a clubber to bring their Bible, but then they never turn a page?

      I think it is great that your clubbers are digging deeper into God’s Word!

  3. It’s all about discipleship!!!!!

    1. Yes Glenn, it is all about discipleship!

      Thank you for commenting.

  4. I don’t believe you included the extra credit from both GIA and UA1. Just counting the verse references (some were more than 1 verse in both), UA1 had approximately 30 extra verses in the Silver Extra Credit after each Discovery. GIA has an extra 4 verses in the Gold Extra Credit after each section (30 sections). That means if T&T clubbers do all the Gold Extra Credit, than they will say an additional 120 verses (or more if there is 2 verses per reference). So, GIA actually has 152 verses (not counting references with 2 verses) that clubbers can say. This also includes the StartZone verses. So, while it is Extra Credit, there is still more that are high achieving clubbers can do.

    1. Brian,

      You are correct. In my comparison I only looked at the required sections, I did not look at the extra credit available in both handbooks.

      As you noted, MGIA does have substantially more extra credit verses than does UA1 since MGIA has extra verses for most sections; whereas, UA1 only has the extra verses at the end of each discovery.

      I think that as people look at “the numbers”, they will see that there is much for their “over-achievers” to complete.

      Thank you for commenting.

    2. I think they may have set the bar a little too high with the Gold sections in MGIA at 4 verses each. My “high-achievers” did one section and basically said “nope”.

  5. We have a group of non-readers and special needs clubbers in T&T. They have been recently combined into one group to facilitate working with them at their level. Due to the altogether method and small group discipleship, they are hearing the lesson, doing the lesson together in their small group and being exposed to the gospel even though some of them are not doing work at home or memorizing the verses.

    A grandparent of one of the clubbers who doesn’t want to be there and won’t do the work, stated that there is obvious value of him being there due to the above.

    So, to God be the glory for the work He is doing through this new curriculum.

    1. Maureen,

      I do like that aspect of the new curriculum. I have clubbers that are present each week, are doing the explore portion just not the verse memorization. I also like that clubbers that “fall behind” can just pick up where the rest of the club is and continue to earn awards. This really helps with my clubbers that are “every other week” attenders due to joint custody issues.

      1. Very good point, David. In this day of divided families, we have that as well, kids supported by one parent in coming, but not the other one.

        The awards for every 4 verses does create an incentive. We have noticed that more T&T’ers on “on track” with the lessons than we had in the old curriculum.

        I’m not sure why the same idea wasn’t extended to the silver and gold sections though. As I understand it, in order to earn a silver or gold emblem, ALL silvers or golds for a specific unit must be completed. I went back to the training videos to confirm this.

  6. We love the new book but my special needs son misses the CD with the verses done to a song. Any ideas when a CD may come out?

  7. I love the GIA handbook. Do you know of any study guides that have been published for the bible quiz for GIA? Looking for KJV

    1. I am currently working on study guides for all four versions (KJV, NKJV, NIV, and ESV).

      I am hoping to have them complete and published on the site within the next few weeks (before Thanksgiving).

  8. Does anyone know the reason that the silver and gold sections for the Awana Go! sections are not in the handbook, but have to printed out online? It would have made more sense for them to be in the handbook since they are required in order to earn the awards.

    1. Most of the Gold sections are in the back of the handbook. Only a few require you to download them.

      1. Yes, there are 3 silver and 3 gold sections (1.7, 2.8 and 3.8) that have to be downloaded from, however, it makes no sense why that would be the case at this grade level. There is a small note on each of the above section pages in the handbook that tells clubbers to download them.

        1. I can only speculate at this point (I will ask my contacts at the Awana Home Office to confirm my suspicions). I think that it might be because they are the Awana GO sections. If a child is eager to do the extra credit, then by having them download additional resources, it leads them to seek out more information about the global reach of Awana and maybe make them more aware of international missions.

          Or it could be that they were unsure what extra credit they would offer for the Awana GO sections when the deadline for the book to be printed arrived.

          Let me ask my contacts and I’ll post their response either here or as another post.

          1. Thanks, that would be helpful. It appears that in order to earn the silver or gold for Unit 1, that these sections are required, so it is an important question.

    2. Hi Maureen,
      They made the decision to make those sections available online because of page count and the printing specs. Gold and Silver sections are not required sections to pass the book.


      1. Thank you for answering that question Chris.

  9. I am interested in the ESV Grace in Action Study Guide

    1. I will be posting when they are complete. Which I hope to be by Thanksgiving.

      1. I don’t know if my reply went through! Not very computer savvy. Sorry if you are reading this again.
        I was wondering if the new Start Zone will have a Bible Quiz Study Guide? We use the NKJV.
        Also, in previous years, there were questions and answers in the form of multiple choice and team written form, for the sake of the new coaches helping with Bible Quiz, will this be possible to download??
        I Thank You for all the hard work you have committed in previous years, your passion for Awana Bible Quiz lives in a lot of us, thanks to you!

        1. I have a separate study guide fore the Start Zone and there is one guide for all versions since most of the content in the Start Zone is the same except for the wording of the verses. It is in the download area with the Mission Grace in Action Study Guides.

          I have never provided questions/answers for quizzing because I have had access to the questions database and have written some for quizzes in different areas.

          Click here for the Bible Quizzing resources and a link to a website that may provide questions for you to practice quizzing.

  10. Our Awana club has not yet started to use the MGIA book, but we have been looking through it so we have a good understanding of it when we make the switch. Here are some questions:

    1. There seems to be no indication on when a clubber has earned an award. By running through the sections in the software we use for tracking the clubbers’ progress, I see that awards are earned after 1:2, 1:6, 2:3, 2:7, etc. But should the clubbers and leaders not clearly see what it takes for each award.

    2. I see no section for bringing a friend. Did I miss it? It seems inviting friends is essential for making Awana grow.

    3. Similarly, I see no missionary activity where you write to missionaries or learn about specific missionaries. I did see there were three sections where you learned about places (Nepal, Chicago and the Philippines).

    Thank you!

    1. Awards are received after any 4 sections are complete (including the Start Zone). That is why there are no “markers” or places indicating when awards are earned because it could vary. If you use any of the current record keeping products, then they would trigger an award at the appropriate time to alert you.

      As for #2 & #3, you are correct. Those items are not specifically included in the handbook.

      1. I contacted Awana customer care Re: Bring a Friend section section not being in the new T&T handbook when we first realized it was missing several months ago. The text below is from the email I received from AWANA Customer care and sheds light on their thinking:

        “I am including some comments from Chris Marchand who is one of the writers of the program regarding the bring a friend option. I hope this helps.”

        “The “bring of friend” section lacks follow through or application. I’ve seen many kids who have “brought a friend” to club just to get the box checked off and then nothing happens. Leaders don’t follow through and the kids that visited just never come back. It is not included in the T&T MIG handbook because we are evaluating and possibly redesigning this aspect of club.

        There may be a “bring a friend” requirement in book 2 but it will be different from the past. We want to make sure friends who come to club are followed up on by an adult leader. We also don’t want to hinder the logistics of clubs with move all-together by having 20-150 new visitors on the same night. If everyone is moving together the inclusion of everyone moving together could easily derail a club night if not planned for.

        Personally, I want our kids equipped with a firm foundation and understanding of the Gospel. That they feel comfortable and confident to share the Gospel with their friends and build relationships with them. Rather than “a bring a friend section” I’d much rather have a “always come to club with a friend mindset”. So that it’s not just one and done, but a habit and practice and our curriculum needs the bones to hold up and sustain that type of ministry practice. Also, not everyone, but we also have an obligation to help inform our kids on how to be friendly and have friendships. We cannot just assume that every kid has the ability to be a good friend if they were never taught. So, we also need to have supplements so that this is not a “requirement” but an actions step from a clear objective and expected learning outcomes. “

  11. I am just now reading this as I am looking for Bible Quiz study guides again. I have been doing AWANA Bible Quizzing and AWANA for over 18 years and I love this new book. I love that you are explaining more about the verses to help them understand. I have always had leaders who had trouble understanding the verse themselves and just work on the memory. This is a discipleship piece for new leaders and student. The hardest part is time management with the kids. They and I want to spend more time but there just is not allotted enough time. It works great with 2 leaders for 4 students. The more you have the harder to work on the discipleship piece. Answering clubbers questions and still getting all done. They have so many questions about the Bible and do not seem to get it elsewhere. They thrive on our time. In regards to bring a friend. I think just a section on sending a postcard or writing a letter to a friend to invite them would be great. Schedules are very tight and it has always been my kids hardest part. We homeschool and we invite but most have their church activities the same time. We have sent postcards and verbal asked many neighbors over the last 4 years and only once did we get a response. This year we did and when the child came he has never heard the Bible. He became discouraged he said by being asked to memorize verses from the start zone. He said he will not be back. Wrong impression on a non-church attending child. He did not even understand. I like how the new book start zone goes over the plan of salvation and explains the Bible.

  12. I am working on Quizzing Questions for our regional Quizzing and was trying to figure out what to quiz over. I read your count and thought easy just to first half of the book as always but was having trouble getting enough questions that no one will think we have asked interpretive answers for. So I did my own count and found that while you are correct about the number of verses you did not mention that in the old Start Zone there are 9 verses to memorize and the new one only has 2. You also left out that they never memorize the Bible Books in the new books, neither Old nor New Testament Books. At a meeting at the beginning of the year, when we had barely received the new books we agreed that we would Quiz over Unit 1 & 2 and the Golds for 1 & 2. That would add another 58 verses that they would have to memorize and from the comments I read on your site would eliminate almost all of the possible quizzers so counting verses again we are thinking about adding unit 3 instead. That count would give one more verse but no books of the Bible. I would like to know how others have handled this problem.

    1. You are correct that I did not include a comparison of the Start Zones. I focused on verse counts in the handbooks since that was the majority of the discussion I heard as people made assumptions about the number of verses learned.

      I understand that many are using the explore sections to develop questions for quizzing. It is not seen as interpreting because small group leaders would share the answers from the book with their group. Of course the questions where answers would vary would not be used.

      I am developing questions for quizzing and I currently see plenty of content from the first two units.

  13. Since Awana has answered the questions in the small group leaders books I agree that we can use those questions and it will not be calling on the kids to interpret but my husband, the Commander and Quizmaster, disagrees.

  14. In the new Grace In Action book, how many extra credit emblems will they receive for completing all of the sections? Online says 1 per every 2 sections for a total of 2 silver and 2 gold a year, but the shirt shows 4 of each per year? Thanks!!

    1. Marla,

      I apologize for the delay in responding. In the “old” T&T books that have (8) Discoveries/Challenges, a silver or gold patch was awarded for every (2) for a total of (4) patches.

      With the new material (Grace in Action), they receive one per unit. Since there are (4) units, they can receive (4) patches.

      I hope that clears it up. Where you saw it online is still referring to the “old” material.

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