Insight from a Children's Pastor & Awana Commander

The Dreaded "Bring a Friend" Section…

If you’re like me, then it is inevitable that as a clubber approaches the “bring a friend section” in their handbooks, that they begin to look for alternatives. I recently had a clubber ask me, “are there verses I can learn or something?” Now while learning verses like the great commission that instruct us to go out and tell  others is good and encouraged by several, I believe that the purpose of the section is to encourage the child to share their faith and not be ashamed – you know Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed.

If we simply have a child learn another verse, then we are losing an opportunity to help the child and the family learn how to reach out to others. I hear people complain that Awana is all about memorizing verse, and if you allow only the recitation of another verse, then you are supporting that perspective and you are leaving out an important component of Awana, the training them to serve.

The bring a friend section is an action section. Think about the sections in the Sparks handbooks where the clubber is required to do chores at home, obey parents, etc… What if the child comes up and says I can’t obey my parents. Do we accept that and say okay, just memorize Ephesians 6:1 or Colossians 3:20? Probably not because if we do that, then they learn that they should obey, but we minimize the need to apply it to their lives. So we send the message that learning Scripture is good, but you don’t need to live it out. Is that the message we want to send? No, at least I hope not, yet with the bring a friend section, that is the message we send. Yes we send the message that the Bible tells us to do it, but I know it makes you uncomfortable or you’re unable to so just learn a verse about how you should be doing something, but don’t bother doing it. Do we really want to send that message? I pray that you do not.

Yes, I know that there are situations where clubbers cannot bring two friends to club. I experience that. In my current church, we have several families that homeschool and so the other children they know are Christians attending other churches and Awana clubs and several of the “church” children have the same circle of friends as others. So the people they know already know God. And then there are situations where the clubber may ask several friends, but the child’s parent does not permit them to attend.

So when these situations arise, there are options, but I encourage you to use options that have them put their faith in to action. Make it an action section, not a memorization section. Work with the parents for ideas and maybe you can encourage a family activity.

Awana has provded several suggested alternatives that are acceptable, but please do not feel like you are “locked in” to only those. Help the clubbers in your care to reach out to others through this section.

To see a list of suggestions provided by Awana, you can look in the leader guide books for the club you work in and you can also see what they have made available on the Awana website (link valid as of this post), and eventhough the list does offer the suggestion of memorizing additional verses, I personally encourage you to make it an action section, and not a memorization section. Take this opportunity to help the clubber put their faith into action through the bring a friend section.

The Author

Commander Bill


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  1. I totally agree with you here Bill. It does need to be an action task. We wanted it to tie directly in with the purpose behind that section so we have kids “invite friends” by sending postcards. We buy the AWANA postcards (come to Awana, Sparks, etc) and we provide the postage if necessary. They have the option to pass them out by hand or fill them out and bring them back and we mail them. We typed up a letter of explanation to the parent and we send it home with the postcards. K5-1st have to do 3 postcards, 2nd-3rd have to do 5 postcards, and 5th-6th have to do 7 postcards. This seems to really help the kids that are shy and it also helps kids that homeschool and don’t see kids every day of the week.

  2. I also struggle with the bring a friend to club section. I believe the reason why so many parents are reluctant to relinquish their children over to attend an Awana club is due to unfamiliarity. How many of us would allow our children to attend an event or a club we are clueless about? If I didn’t know the parents or those who are running the club, there is no way I would allow my children to get involved. We live in a different time than when the section was originally implemented.

    After reading the forums and Commander Bill’s article, I think I will allow my Sparks to do three random acts of kindness for people they don’t know with the help of their parents. I am not quite sure what it will look like in the end, but Commander Bill is correct when saying we need to teach the Sparks that they need to show action of God’s love to all people, not just the people we know or like. I will be talking with parents one to one on this. The parents will have the option of what they would like their child to do.

  3. Hey Commander Bill. Thanks for the many resources and discussion topics you bring up. I have found many of them helpful. As far as the current topic ‘Bring a Friend’ I can tell you that I have struggled with this a few years back. When I took over as being the T&T director for our club I was having difficulty with the way the previous directors had handled these sections. Many of the clubbers would choose the ‘Say more Verses’ option rather than bring a friend. My struggle was with what I believe the section was to accomplish. We are to be witnesses of the Lord Jesus and that the best way (Biblical way) id to tell our friends about Jesus. Needless to say, I did meet some resistance with both clubbers and parents when I informed everyone that in order to complete that section was to actually invite, and bring, 2 friends (Sparkies are to bring only one if I remember correctly). Something wonderful started happening. The clubbers were actually bringing friends! When clubbers would personally ask me if there were other options I would ask them if they prayed about it? In almost every circumstance they said that they hadn’t. My response to that is that I believe that Jesus has a few friends that He wants them to bring to club and to hear the good news of God’s love, forgiveness, mercy, and free gift of salvation (in kid lingo, that is). I would ask them to pray with me and we would pray together right then. I would also pray for those kids each week. In almost every situation the kids brought two, or more, friends! This provides an excellent opportunity to follow up with the clubber about how God is faithful and that we should be going to Him with all of our cares…even inviting friends to AWANA! Now, I realize that this doesn’t happen for everyone. In fact I wait until about 4 week left in the club and I offer another option. That option is to go door-to-door with me and some other leaders to hand out flyers about our church and about our AWANA club. I usually plan the activity a week or two before one of our favorite large group missionary come to share with us and promote His ministry. Before we go out I have a little ‘training’ session about safety, rules of conduct, and explain the reason for the activity. Though we have not had any visitors from that activity (to the best of my knowledge) is serves as a valuable lesson about sharing with other people (the clubbers actually do the talking by reading through a script with leaders standing with them). For the last two weeks I offer a final solution where the parent(s) of the clubber submit a letter that their clubber has asked more than two friends to come but the friends were unable to come.

    1. Hi Elliot,

      That’s a great idea! It seems that we forget about praying for God to help us. Glad to see you’re teaching the children to learn that God answers prayers and that we need to tell others about Him.

      Thanks for sharing!

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