I am going through some evaluations from one of many fall conferences. As I am reading them (and I’m still going through them), a comment made by a workshop leader that was noted on the form really stood out to me. The workshop was on Handbook Time Ideas and I won’t name the workshop leader, that is not important.
The comment on the evaluation form was this, “#1 Priority in handbook time is passing sections, it is not explaining them. Thank you for making this clear.”
Handbook time often raises questions on “how” to do it properly. I even attended back to back conference workshops (years ago) on handbook time that expressed different views on how to “do” handbook time. There are concerns that children do not understand the verses and are just reciting them from their short term memory, which is a valid concern.
Now I cannot know for sure the context in which the previous statement was made, but I think I understand the intent. So this response is my view of handbook time. I’m eager to hear your responses and comments.
I would agree that the #1 priority of handbook time is passing sections – with a disclaimer – that isn’t the only reason.
From my perspective, the 2nd priority of handbook time is discipleship, helping them understand the verse and why they are memorizing it.
And third, building relationships with clubbers.
If anyone of these takes too much importance, then handbook time is unbalanced.
Let’s look at these individually:
The 1st priority is passing sections, but if the sole focus is on getting clubbers through the handbook to share about how many awards have been earned, that is the wrong motive. At that point we are placing a greater emphasis on what we do and the importance of completing a book. Now don;t get me wrong, we should try to have clubbers complete a handbook each year, but that is not always possible. There will be clubbers who are unable to complete a handbook each year, or keep pace. If our sole purpose is to complete books, then we leave the clubbers who cannot in the dust, discouraged, and possibly walking away and never returning.
Second, discipleship, making sure they know why they are memorizing what they are saying. If this part was not important, Awana would not place definitions in the section to help the child understand. Yes, I know, they are not required to know to complete the section, but take a moment and see what the child knows and explain it briefly if they do not. Now if too much emphasis is placed on the explanation, then clubbers cannot progress through the handbooks. It is our hope and prayer that parents are working with their child, teaching them these things, but we all know that is not always the case. That is why it is an important part of handbook time.
Finally, building relationships. We are people, we should care. If building relationships was not a part of it, then Awana could sell voice recognition software and clubbers could say it, or just type it into a computer to verify the accuracy. Again, building relationships should happen all night, not just handbook time.
So all three aspects are important, just as all three main parts of a club night are important, but they each have their place, and they overlap. Don’t over emphasize one to the detriment of the others. Keep a good balance and handbook time will be all it should be.