I almost started a fight at Awana Headquarters. It’s true, the tension was so thick that you could “see” it and as they say, you could “cut it with a knife”. So much so that someone else had to divert the conversation around the table to try to diffuse the situation.
So what did I do that caused that tension? I simply made the comment that Awana wasn’t for every church. I was not prepared for the response I received.
I was at Awana for some training and we were given a scenario to discuss. The scenario was that a new youth pastor was hired at the church and there was talk that they were planning to replace Awana with a curriculum they wrote for their Master’s Degree. What would you do?
I was amazed that people were so adamant about Awana and that they really believed that Awana was for EVERY church. A little later, during the group discussion about it, someone said that in their search for a new children/youth pastor – I quickly perked up and said to myself, hmm their hiring 🙂 – but then they said something that would keep me from serving in that church, or any church like it. They said that Awana was “non-negotiable”. I even had someone in my church mention to me that they felt every church should have Awana.
I’m sure you realize that I am “big” on Awana and I believe that it is one of the best, if not the best, program available to reach and teach children (and their families) about God. My issue is that when someone says it is non-negotiable, then they are saying that they are not open to the Holy Spirit and what God may have for the church. If Awana is “non-negotiable”, then what else is non-negotiable. Awana would have become a “sacred cow” and worshiped as the only way to reach kids.
Likewise, if a person says that Awana should be in EVERY church, then they are saying that God cannot use any of the several other programs available that are being used to reach many children for Christ.
Now I feel I need to emphasize that I am not saying to abandon Awana. I promote Awana and I believe that a well run Awana program will be used mightily by God. I’m simply saying that it is one of many programs available and we need to be careful not to “worship” the program. Be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and never say something is non-negotiable (except for the Truth of the Gospel), you don’t know what God may want to do that you are hindering.
The bottom line is to use what is effective to reach the children in your sphere of influence.
(Tomorrow I will write about why some Awana clubs fail)