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Awana Pledges Missing the Point

July 6, 2006

Last night, as is my normal custom, I worked with children in our church’s Sparks program, a division of AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed). I love hearing the children memorize and come to understand various verses in the Bible, and am glad all three of my kids enjoy this.

In general, I think AWANA is a good program. However, this year, I have realized there is definitely room for improvement. Perhaps my biggest concern is the amount of time we spend on non-Bible memorization. Before a child can begin the first workbook of Bible memorization, earning jewels for their crowns, the following must be memorized:

  • The Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America
  • The Pledge of Allegiance to the Awana Clubs

    “We pledge allegiance to the Awana flag, which stands for the Awana clubs, whose goal is to reach boys and girls with the gospel of Christ, and train them to serve Him.”

  • The Sparks song “We are Sparks for Jesus”
  • The Sparks motto “My Friend for Christ”

For my daughter, who memorizes quite easily, it is no problem to learn these items quickly and move on to Bible verses. For my youngest son, however, who has been speaking English for only a year, this is more of a problem. In addition, we have several other non-native speakers in our group as well as children who either have trouble memorizing or who have parents that do not work with them at home.

Therefore, why are we wasting our time on the non-essential?

I enjoy living in America, but what place does the Pledge of Allegiance have in a local church program to memorize scripture? Americans are not, contrary to the belief of one Music Minister at a church where we used to live, God’s chosen people. The Bible is not about extolling the virtues of America.

Even worse is the silly pledge to the AWANA clubs…I would like pledging my allegiance to something to have meaning, and there are far more important things I would pledge my allegiance to than this. I feel as if we are cheapening those words for our children.

Then there is the motto: “My friend for Christ.” I could understand if it was “Helping my friends to know Christ”, “Sharing Christ with my friends”, or even “Christ for my friend”, but what in the world does “My friend for Christ” mean?

For the sake of the children we only see on Wednesday nights, for those who have language difficulties, for those who only hear Scripture when at church, and for the boys and girls who genuinely have trouble memorizing, I believe it would be far better to focus solely on memorizing verses and understanding verses rather than making the children memorize a bunch of unnecessary stuff before they can even move forward to Bible memorization.

What do you think?

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Diet Coke Mania permalink
    July 6, 2006 8:30 pm

    I’m not sure what the motto means either. However, AWANA is one of the few programs our church has that teaches them God’s Word.

  2. I'm not worthy! permalink
    July 7, 2006 2:56 am

    You got me interested…. so I did a little searching and I have found that there is an AWANA forum; gotta keep up with the age of technology ofcourse!

    Maybe if they wouldn’t speak in sentence fragments then it would be better understood.

    http://www2.awana.org/cs/forums/12720/ShowPost.aspx

    I have noticed that alot of the kids at our church know the pledge to the Christian flag also, is that a part of the AWANA program?

  3. Bamadawg1980 permalink
    July 7, 2006 3:55 pm

    I don’t remember saying the Pledge to the Christian flag–just the American flag, the AWANA flag, and the Bible.

    The problem with the AWANA motto is that regardless of the intent, if we as adults think it ambiguous, what in the world do the kids think?

  4. I'm not worthy! permalink
    July 7, 2006 9:38 pm

    agreed.

  5. mrsdallan permalink
    September 10, 2007 4:53 am

    I would have to agree with the writer, our allegiance is to God and God alone.

    In the book of Acts they preached Jesus Christ and nothing else, not Mary nor Peter, or Paul. They made no allegiance to anything or anybody.
    It seems so harmless but our adversary is subtle and parades around like an angel of light. Words are powerful our LORD spoke all of creation into being we need to be careful with our own words, the tongue is tiny member like the rudder but it can sink the whole ship.

  6. kirsten permalink
    September 25, 2007 8:55 pm

    Our boys just started Awanas this month-Sparks- and we are working through the gate. Not real thrilled about them HAVING to learn the pledges first. However as I stared at the Motto trying to figure it out- our 6 year old said that he already learned that- he said “OUR FRIEND IS IN CHRIST” I asked, do you understand what that means- and he went on and on. He was absolutely correct. Great joy has been abounding in our home since they passed the next section of the gate- John 3:16. Once again they understood. WOW! I am thankfull that they have such great leaders at this club location. We are now of course working through the pledge to the US flag. I was dragging my feet on this one- for the same reasons you were stating. Then I recognized some of the importance in teaching it. We are homeschooling- so I decided to teach on just this pledge. We are taking it phrase by phrase and they are understanding. I am hoping that it does not loose its meaning as time rolls by if perhaps they can take it into their hearts now.

    NOW all that said- I am absolutely dragging my feet on the pledge to the Awana Flag! Not seeing the point of that one quite yet!

    Thanks for the great thoughts. …got here because I was on google looking for a link to listen to the Sparks song. I am ready to be done with this gate so they can get on with it!

  7. amanda permalink
    May 9, 2008 3:30 pm

    I feel like the AWANA club misses the point in alot of ways. Such as the whole award system, when I worked in Awana’s I felt as if I were bribing children to learn something that they would be willing to learn without the bribe. (Travel to a third world country or to a poverty stricken area in our own country where children have not been spoiled by prizes , these kids desire to hear Gods word without a bribe) What kind of Christianity are we promoting when we have to give our kids badges and AWANA money in order to get them to repeat a verse. I feel like this award system that we have in our American churches today has ruined the message of Christ. I cannot count how many drunk people I have met who “got saved” in AWANAS then somewhere down the line someone in the church hurt their feelings and they abandon the church. This is not Christianity, the things that we do in our walk for Christ should be for his glory not ours and we are teaching these kids the very opposite, no wonder we have so many thin skinned so called Christians today.

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