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Insight from a Children's Pastor & Awana Commander

Why Awana Fails…

Yesterday I shared how I felt that Awana was not for every church and how people limit God when they say that Awana is “non-negotiable”. I want to share now why some Awana Clubs fail.

I know of churches who have dropped Awana and I have heard their reasons. Although I have no scientific data, there is ONE recurring theme. So if you are looking for a list of reasons, then you will be disappointed. This is not unique to Awana either, this plagues all ministries, there is no immunity. Yes, even I was infected with this at one point, and I saw the impact it has first hand. If I had not overcome it, then the Awana club in my former church may have ceased after a while.

So here it is….

Awana fails because the leadership loses their passion. Once the leadership loses their passion, it affects every area of the ministry and then Awana is not run properly. I know when I lost that passion for awhile (that’s a story for another time), it flowed down to the leaders, and the clubbers. People lose sight of the ministry and what God has done through it and through them. Before long, Awana just doesn’t work for them because they have lost the leadership it needed. Sure they may blame cost, or dropping attendance, or the need for leaders, etc.. but ultimately, from what I’ve seen, it is that lack of leadership.

I am often concerned when a church drops Awana – not because they are dropping Awana, but because I wonder how they will embrace the next program. Will they look to the program to reach the kids, or will they get that passion to reach kids back?

So whatever ministry you are involved in, keep your passion! Stay close to God and make sure you are on the path He would have you go. Keep in His Word and spread the vision for the ministry. Your passion will be contagious, spreading to the leaders under you and the children in your ministry. Finally, continually share what God is doing in the ministry and show how it matches up with the mission of the church. People want to be where God is moving.

If you’re concerned that you may be losing your passion, then find support, others to pray for you, to counsel you. Feel free to contact me, or another whom you trust, but find support. Don’t let the enemy steal your passion and harm your ministry.

Updated: February 1, 2011 — 9:31 pm

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11 Comments

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  1. Precisely!!! This is why for myself I often teach lessons or create a lesson plan for our TNT group based on what God has spoken to my heart about that week or what my particular “passion” is for the kids that week. This is often based on current events or behaviors that we see needing some scriptural correction. This is especially true for AWANA groups that serve large unchurched groups of kids like ours does. Thanks for this insight.

  2. Thanks for the reminder Bill!!!
    We, my wife and I, have taken over as the Co-Commanders at a church that God called us to. After years of leading AWANA at our previous church, we were in a whole new environment. One of the first things that I noticed was the lack of excitement and passion toward the children. Secondly, the lack of the Gospel in the counsel time lesson. God has provided strides this year towards re-energizing our leaders and spreading passion for this ministry. Pray for this to continue and thrive…lest we forget…”Reaching boys and girls with the Gospel of Christ.”

  3. I am currently serving in a club that is nearing 30 years in Awana and has clearly lost it’s passion. I am “on-fire” and have been with this church/club for 10 years. What do you do when your passion or enthusiasm is resented rather than welcomed? When it is seen more as “making waves” than “going with the flow”? I sometimes wonder if God is calling me out of this church. On the other hand, what if I am supposed to stay the course and see it through? I don’t know. However, I do like the church I am in and I think the pastor’s teachings are excellent. He too is trying to kind of revive the church in his sermons. I wish the people would LISTEN AND DO IT! What advice can you give me? Should I continue with my enthusiasm, energy, and fun with the kids or should I “mellow” out a bit? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  4. I can honestly tell you that if you “mellow” out a bit, that it will drive you crazy because you will be going against what you know you should be doing.

    It is hard to get that excitement and “buzz” flowing “upstream”. You did not note what position you are serving, but if you’re a leader, use that excitement as you’re able connecting with the kids during handbook time and gametime and interacting during large group time.

    If you’re a director, then serve the leadership under you and share your passion with them. It will not happen overnight, but excitement does spread.

    The one thing to remember is that no one will have the same passion that you do, if they did, they would be you!

    The one thing that stands out in your response is that you say the pastor is trying to revive the church as well. That tells me it is not an Awana leadership “problem”, but a “church” problem.

    The main thing I would suggest is to schedule a meeting with the pastor and share your heart and see if there is a way you can work with them to refocus the church.

    Sometimes people get in a groove in ministry and then it becomes as rut. You may be the person to help them out of the rut. You need to really seek God and see what path He has for you.

    Ultimately, don’t worry about what others are doing… do what you know you should be doing. As you look to the left and right and focus on others, you lose focus on the path God has for you. So stay focused on Him and He will guide you.

  5. Thank you for your response, Commander Bill! I am a director with no acting commander of our club. We do not have the club structure you speak of. Nor prayer and planning meetings. I plan the club year and prepare the fliers. I arrive early and leave late to club. I work with the 5th & 6th grade boys and girls. I love what I do! I like to improve things and make our club better and better. I have lots of good ideas and passion- with the goal of making club inviting and really fun for the kids so that they won’t want to miss even one week of Awana! We compete so much with sport & music programs that I want the kids to want to come to Awana more than those!

    I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. I will take more time to pray and seek the Lord on all these matters. You can never do that too much! I may write a letter to our pastor telling him my goals and ideas. Thanks for your response! I appreciate it very much!

  6. I too had a passion that was not appreciated by others. I was also an “outsider” I am no longer in a leadership position but am working in Cubbies. In the long run, it is a blessing for me and the church. My husband keeps reminding me that I work in my role only and leave the decisions to the Commander. That’s hard to do. But after a year, we now have a new Commander with a background in Awana and from the area who will be able to be listened to. I’m expecting a great year and am very pleased with the Lord’s leading.
    Anonymous

  7. Hi! Jumping in a little late here, but I saw the discussion and really wanted to contribute. If you are finding your leaders are lacking passion it is because of one of two things (or, worse, both): 1, lack of conviction. They just don’t want to sacrifice the time, don’t see it making any change, or see evidence weekly that kids are remaining far from God instead of getting closer to God. 2, lack of God affecting their own lives.
    1, is solved in a couple steps. Look at your program. Is it the same as it was 5 years ago? If it is, that’s a problem. Add worship time with new songs. Go to Lifechurch.tv and download some free (seriously, free!) kid skit videos and have some special teaching time. Get kids engaged in something new so they are excited and making new commitments to reach out and care for others. For instance: old lesson, “I will share my food with someone at school to be nice to them”. Reality check: most schools BAN the sharing of food now. Better lesson: “I will spend time with the special needs kid” or “I will tweet encouraging things only!” The next thing: for the leaders, let them write down why they do what they do. This might seem like meaningless work, but tell them to take 30 min after a meeting, and think of every good experience they have! With it staring them down on paper, and a reminder to keep an eye on eternity, they’re conviction will be rekindled! If they see kids excited and jumping up and down to praise songs or new teaching material reaches kids in new ways (that finally reach that problem kid they never could), it will help them know they are making a difference.
    2 is way harder to fix. It is a very personal issue with them and God. If their life isn’t being changed by God, the words they teach children are coming without passion. I would recommend the book/or a quick overview of “The Sacred Echo” by Margaret Feinberg. The jist is that the truth is always the truth. But rediscovering those truths should not be dull or boring. They are still sacred and beautiful, and there is much depth to them. We need to recommit them to finding ways to rediscover the truth and apply it to one more area of their lives. Again, many people think “I know this”. Saying “Jesus loves me” should never loose any of power or significance, even if you “know” it.

    Also, another tip- it always helps if everyone takes a break from teaching and learning. Do a month of “Live It Out” where your kids participate in service projects. Make serving and loving Christ feel real and reveal to children the impact they can make when they live for others instead of themselves! This will also inspire everyone!

    Laura
    NextGen4Christ
    “We have virtually lost a generation of young people; we dare not lose another.”- George Barna

  8. Our 7 year Awana program seems to be going down hill. Most of our kids come from unchurched homes and make no preparation in learning before they arrive. We are having a lot of discipline and disrespect issues. They are only interested in game time and refreshments, when we have them. It seems many times the parents send them to get them out of their hair. Our leaders are getting frustrated and discouraged. The kids look at the material long enough to be able to say it to get checked off and five min. later, they cant remember any of it. any ideas or suggestions?

    1. Jo Ann,

      You say that your program is going downhill, I would disagree. I disagree because you say that most of you clubbers come from unchurched homes. You are reaching children 4or Him.

      Many clubs only have “churched” kids.

      Some clubs stress handbook completion and accomplishment. That’s doesn’t always indicate a “successful” club.

      I’m reminded of a scenario someone shared at an Awana training. There was a girl who faithfully came to Awana every week, but never passed a section. When the leader inquired why they came if they weren’t working in the book, they shared that their mom was an atheist and didn’t want her to work in the handbook, but she could was allowed to attend, and she did because that was the only place she felt loved.

      Your club might be the only place these kids experience love. If they are attending and being respectful during council time, then they are hearing God’s Word if you are being faithful to speak it.

      It is refocusing. A club of homeschooled kids will generally have the “perfect” club with children coming ready to complete several sections. Most clubs are not like that.

      Try incentives, share with your leaders that they are there to show these kids God’s Love and at this point the handbook (in my humble opinion based on your comments) is secondary. Take time to know these kids, not go through the mechanics of handbook time. Have the leaders pray for these kids that they might come to know Jesus. You never know, one of these “unchurched kids” may be a future Awana Commander or Missionary. Re-direct the focus of why you have Awana, or any ministry for children.

      I’ll be paying for you and your club.

      1. Bill,
        I so agee with all you said and I thank and covet your prayers. One of our issues is that a lot of the kids act ou tand are disrespectful. I just don’t want the kids who don’t act out to be slighted. I want to be there for the kids but I just don’t know what to do.

        1. Tough to really assess from a distance without seeing the structure … how is your leader to clubber ratio? Some of the kids may need more focused attention, one-on-one. That can be tiring, but with the right person/people, it can be very effective.

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