Awana


#1

Is anyone familiar with it?

It is a Baptist children' activity night on Wednesday nights. Here in our very small town nearly everyone is Baptist. My daughter has been invited by her best school friend to go, and has asked for some time. Her mom said they have dinner, songs, activities, and maybe a book to work from.

There is Sunday faith formation at our parish here, but nothing else for children aside from that.
I know my daughter would love going, but wonder if it would be fine?

Just wondering if anyone has had experience with it.


#2

ive had no experience of it, but itd be dangerous for your daughter.
In no time, theyd probably convince her that theyre right and we`re wrong…by using carefully chosen Bible quotes. Out of context, of course, and there are plenty to choose from.

Why don`t you get together with some others to have some sort of Catholic equivalent?


#3

It is called AWANA and I would not send any Catholic child to it. They would constantly be trying to get your child “saved”, and Baptists for the most part don’t even think Catholics are Christian.


#4

This is true.


#5

I am a convert to Catholicism from evangelical Protestantism, and I taught a Wednesday night children’s club called Pioneer Club for ten years. My children attended Wed. night club until they were in middle school.

We were not involved with AWANA for several reasons.

Unless is has changed, AWANA is like watching a game show. The meetings open with pledges, followed by competitive active games. This is absolutely great for children who like competitive games. A lot of homeschooled kids benefit greatly from this, because they get little opportunity to interact with other children in competition, and they often have a difficult time dealing with “losing.” So AWANA game time is a good teaching time for them. If you have kids who like to play hard and play for the win, and who need to learn to lose graciously, I recommend AWANA.

But the LAST thing that my daughters needed was more competition! They were both involved in competitive figure skating, and spent two or more hours a day on the ice practicing and trying to get “good enough” or “better” than other kids. From the rink, they went to a highly-competitive college prep school where tracking was the rule! My older daughter was involved in theater, which meant auditions for plays (and not getting the parts most of the time!)

So I and they felt that we really didn’t need any more competition in our family!

After the game time, the kids do table time, which consisted mainly of everyone reciting the Bible verses that they had memorized, and getting points for it. Again, it was a game, a competition. I was a substitute teacher at AWANAs once, and after he receited his verses, I asked a little boy what they meant. He shrugged his shoulders and said ,“I don’t know.”

This is another reason why we wouldn’t get involved in AWANA–no application. I could not see the point of learning Bible verses without learning what they meant. Perhaps it’s different at other churches, but at the churches that my children tried, there was NO TIME for teaching. And so, IMO, sending Catholic kids to AWANA is probably not going to hurt them, and may help them IF while they memorize their Bible verses, their PARENTS are teaching them what the Church teaches about those verses.

However, there is a “general” gathering time, and during this time, children are encouraged to “accept Jesus as their personal Savior.” Again, all of this might have changed, and perhaps there is more teaching time. But I’m guessing that this “evangelism” time is still done, and THIS would be a good reason for Catholics to avoid AWANA.

One more thing–when my daughters attended, the pledges to the flag were always done. That’s great, except that the pledge to the AWANA flag, at least back then (about 15 years ago) was done with an outstretched arm. My daughters refused to do this, and afterwards, my younger daughter asked me, “Mom, was that pledge OK?” I was proud of them, and I told them that we should never do or say a pledge that we don’t fully mean. Personally, I had shivers watching those little blonde children holding their arms out like Nazis!

I agree-start your own “Catholic club.” Children do not need anything fancy. Just do an activity–it can be utterly simple, like making paper airplanes and having a contest to see which one stays aloft the longest. And do a “teaching time.” This, too, can and should be very simple–a Bible story followed by an application (e.g., Jesus heals a sick person–we should care for the sick by praying for them–let’s pray right now for someone we know who is sick–make a list on the white board and everyone pray a Hail Mary for them).

And of course, a TREAT!

What kids need is to know that someone cares for them and loves them–even the most inept club leader can have a huge impact for the good in a child’s life! Go for it!


#6

You can read quite a bit about this on the Internet, I am not sure if you have done so already but if not they outline their program extensively. I do have to say that given the attacks that the Catholic church come under for a variety of reasons, I would not allow my children to attend. There are many subtle, and not so subtle, ways to undermine our faith and given the age of these children raising doubts about our faith would be easy to do.


#7

Why do not YOU ask to start a Wednesday night children’s program at your parish?


#8

We have some experience with AWANA and I would not put my kids in the program...

Our Parish had a similar issue. We approached the Priest and started our own program using the Kids4Jesuss (K4J) curriculum. It was a great program that has been growing steadily for the last several years.


#9

My wife and I used to be leaders in the Awana club back in my fundamentalist days.
Let me say up front that if you want your child to remain Catholic, DO NOT send them to Awana.
The purpose of the “club” is to force children to recite the “sinners prayer” and memorize Scripture passages with no purpose OTHER than indocrination. The beanbag games are silly, the “prizes” the kids get (for memorization) don’t amount to much.
It is also a very expensive program for a local church. The leaders of Awana reap in a lot of cash with all their accessories that go along with club membership.


#10

To clarify–in 47 years of involvement with evangelical Protestant churches, and in the last 8 years of continued communication with evangelical Protestant relatives, I have never, NEVER seen ANY AWANA leader who was paid.

Evangelical Protestants generally volunteer to do the work of their local church. The one exception would be musicians–the music minister is paid, and nowadays, the organists/pianists are paid because they are rather difficult to obtain. Also, if there is a Minister of Children or Pastor of Children’s Ministries, they are paid.

Any money from the AWANA accessories goes to the church and very likely goes into the “Children’s Ministries Budget.” It may go to pay the salary of the maintenance staff that prepares the church building for the club meetings and does the clean up afterward. Another possibility is that the monies are used to pay club fees for children who can’t afford it.


#11

I was in the only part of my extended family who was not Baptist and so I became fairly familiar. I was always being dragged to baptist sunday school and church.

At that time they had Royal /Ambassadors for boys, and GAs for girls.

Have those organisations been replaced with awana, or do they co-exist?

I know that awana is not exclusively Baptist, other fundamentalist churches have them as well.


#12

From what I understand, Awana is a sports program that Baptist churches sometimes have. A local fundamentalist Baptist church has Awana going on right now I think. I seen a sign on their property the other day about Awana. That said, I am thinking that basically Awana is a program that is supposed to be fun but they also evangelize the kids that are going there and try to convince them of the Baptist teachings. Unfortunately, many teachings of the Baptist denomination are wrong.


#13

As I said already AWANA is not solely a baptist program, the local "bible" churches use it as well and maybe other evangelical sects.

I think perhaps it is like"Young Life", a seperate publishing enterprise that provides materials ad programming for customer congregations. independent of any one denomination.

At least around here you will find advertisements for identical vacation bible schools run by different churches. You will see the same ad published by difeerent churches and denominations all identical except for the sponsering church.

I think AWANA is much the same.


#14

My parents made me attend Awana as a child. It was fun for the most part; I clearly remember playing tug-a-war and the three legged race there. As the above posters have mentioned, you memorize quite a bit of Sacred Scripture, but none of it is really explained in detail. And yes, there is quiet time where you are encouraged to accept Jesus as your personal Savior. Once Saved always Saved, Yippee! :shrug:

As a Catholic, would I send my kids there? Probably not. Too much Protestant indoctrination. I don’t want my kids to be told they are going straight to hell and that they have evil parents who worship the pope and Mary.


#15

[quote="coopnann, post:1, topic:298376"]
Is anyone familiar with it?

It is a Baptist children' activity night on Wednesday nights. Here in our very small town nearly everyone is Baptist. My daughter has been invited by her best school friend to go, and has asked for some time. Her mom said they have dinner, songs, activities, and maybe a book to work from.

There is Sunday faith formation at our parish here, but nothing else for children aside from that.
I know my daughter would love going, but wonder if it would be fine?

Just wondering if anyone has had experience with it.

[/quote]

Keep your kids FAR away from Awana. It is anti-Catholic and your child will be proselytized to. Even if you happen to get in with a group that is not overtly anti-Catholic, they teach a very fundamentalist version of Christianity and she will be taught things that conflict with the Catholic Church such as "once saved, always saved" etc.

Stay away.

Start a Catholic group.


#16

I enjoyed AWANA--Cat had a good point about it being good for homeschoolers, at least in my case.

But I frequently got into theological arguments with the leaders (my background is Wesleyan and we didn't agree with a lot of the presuppositions behind the program). I can see how some kids, particularly given the much greater dissonance between Catholicism and AWANA theology, would be really confused by what is essentially fundamentalist propaganda. The Bible memorization, which is the heart of the program (the "sports" element, while valuable for me because I didn't get it anywhere else, is really just there to lure kids in), consists of isolated prooftexts which are so arranged as to support Baptist/fundamentalist theology.

As a teenager, I was involved with "Bible quizzing" through a local Christian Missionary Alliance church. That required me to memorize extended passages and even whole books--for a few days I had the whole book of Matthew memorized. I couldn't quote it today, but I have an understanding of the structure of the book that I probably wouldn't have acquired any other way. I think that's a lot more useful.


#17

If I may… RA’s and GA’s are Southern Baptist groups. AWANA is generally not done in our churches.


#18

Perhaps I am reading too much into this post, and if so, I apologize.

It has been my experience over 47 years of Protestantism that AWANA leaders are always volunteers (lay people), and do not earn any cash from any of their work, including sales of accessories.


#19

[quote="Cat, post:18, topic:298376"]
Perhaps I am reading too much into this post, and if so, I apologize.

It has been my experience over 47 years of Protestantism that AWANA leaders are always volunteers (lay people), and do not earn any cash from any of their work, including sales of accessories.

[/quote]

I am referring to the people who own the actual company. Being once an AWANA leader myself (Cubbies), I am very much aware it is volunteer.
It IS a very expensive program for a local small church. Our youth leader years ago discarded it, put together his own books, awards and games. It's not really as complicated as AWANA makes it out to be.
Besides, he came up with far better games than 'beanbags'.


#20

I absolutely agree that a home-made church club program is an excellent option.

It can be custom-made for your own population of children and take into consideration the typical economic situation of the families in your parish, as well as the type of interests that the typical families in your community have (e.g., agricultural in a farming community, theater in the big city, etc.)

My mother always said that it doesn’t take much to amuse a child. I mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating. A good children’s church club meeting should include

(1) an activity–could be a game, craft, field trip, etc. Cooking is extremely popular with both boys and girls. Or it could be Bible or Catechism quizzing, sword drills, or some other “competition” activity involving spiritual things. Or it could be a service project; e.g., raking all the leaves in the church yard, or planning and carrying out a collection of baby items for the local pregnancy life care center. Plan a variety of activities to keep the kids excited from week to week. It does NOT need to be spectacular!! Stringing cranberries and popcorn is a perfectly acceptable activity! So is “taking a walk around the block.” Remember my mother’s motto.

(2) a teaching time–use the Bible, the Catechism, a biography of a saint or some other admirable Catholic, or perhaps use a book of devotionals written for children. Or have the priest come to the club meeting each week and give a short teaching. Best teaching times make sure to apply the teaching to everyday life at the children’s level; e.g., if you are teaching about Jesus healing the sick, talk about how the children can show mercy to their families and friends.

(3) a treat time. It can (and probably should be) very simple food, but use the “table time” as a chance to get to know the kids and listen to them talk.

If you have the right kind of group of kids, you could add a singing time, but this requires a leader who loves to sing and is capable of getting the kids enthusiastically singing. If you have such a person, please add a singing time!

But as JustaServant said, there is no need for fancy curricula and materials. Save your money. Do it yourself.


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