In my experience, one of the most effective ministries to children for teaching the Word of God has been AWANA. First, AWANA teaches children the Word of God in a systematic way, and motivates kids to learn in a positive and fun way. Second, it is Gospel-centered. It focuses children on the person of Christ and his work for us. While the curriculum that we employ in other children’s ministries teach children the Word of God and focuses them to look to Christ, AWANA by virtue of its structure makes it imperative that parents are involved in their child’s learning. Since the memorization and understanding of Scripture has to be done at home rather than at church, it places the primary emphasis of a child’s spiritual progress upon parents. The church and the AWANA leaders then become a vital partner to parents, and extra mentors to children. This is a biblical way of looking at the spiritual development of our children. The church partners with parents, the primary teachers of children, to equip them and to assist them in the growth of their children.
In my 9 years of experience with AWANA, children in AWANA who have parents helping them at home progress more quickly and with more understanding of God’s Word as compared to those whose parents have little to no involvement in daily guiding them through the AWANA handbooks.
The impact of a parent guiding the child along with a partnering church is incredible. An independent survey was conducted by Baylor University of alumni who participated in AWANA as a youth for 6 to 10 years. These alumni were asked the same questions that measured the beliefs and behaviors of churchgoers and the general U.S. population.
Here are just a few of the key findings from the Awana alumni study report:
Church attendance – 92.7 percent of Awana alumni continue to regularly attend church as adults, and only 1.8 percent said they had dropped out of church since high school. By comparison, 36 percent of Americans surveyed by Baylor who attended church at age 12 said they are now unchurched as adults.
Belief in God – 93.7 percent of our alumni said they wholeheartedly believe in God as opposed to 65.8 percent of Baylor respondents.
Jesus and salvation – 98.6 percent of alumni believe Jesus is God’s Son compared to 70 percent of Americans and 85 percent of Protestants. 93 percent of alumni believe Christ is the only way to salvation. 69.6 percent of Americans believe many roads lead to salvation or do not believe in salvation.
Belief about the Bible – 94 percent of our alumni believe the Bible is God’s Word compared to 58 percent of Americans and 73 percent of Protestants. Our alumni are also 3.6 times more likely than other churchgoers and Americans to read in virtually every case the Bible several times a week.
Church service – At 74 percent, our alumni were five times more likely than Americans polled by Baylor to serve their church 11 hours or more each month.
Personal evangelism – 70 percent of alumni said they share their faith with friends at least once a month compared to 35.7 percent of the national average, 48.7 percent of Protestants and 59 percent of the most devoted churchgoers. ~ www.awana.org/alumnistudy
“When parents and churches work together to teach God’s Word across kids’ formative years, they produce young adults marked by steadfast biblical faith and character.” – AWANA
Pretty impressive results! Its not magical, nor is it a formula for Godly children, but as Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Tim. 3:15 – “and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” The Word of God can lead one to the knowledge of the truth, and has the power to bring its readers to faith in Christ. It is able! The Lord expects us to be faithful in teaching the truth, not to get our children saved. That is His work! His Holy Spirit draws and convicts through the Word of God!
I want to share a great resource with you to assist your AWANA child! Its called “The Parent Book Walk” and will not only help you encourage your child, it will suggest options for teaching your children their verses, and other helpful hints by walking you through your child’s AWANA handbook section by section.
Plus, there is a link to an online pacing tool to assist you in keeping your child on pace to finish their book within the AWANA year. The reason we want every child to complete their handbook is simply because when they do, they are learning God’s Word, and more of it! Here is the link to find these wonderful resources:
I want to especially thank all of our AWANA leaders for their willingness to coach our children. I want to thank our commanders, Lance and Amy Dandridge for their leadership and their team of directors. The reason we have an excellent AWANA program is because of their faithful service and labor of love!
Finally, I want to thank you, the parent, for your involvement in your child’s personal discipleship. I am praying for you, and am here as are our staff and teachers to partner with you so that our children lovingly follow our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Let us know how we might help you lead and teach your children.