RA's/ GA's or AWANA's

Discussion in 'Youth Forum' started by dianetavegia, Feb 9, 2003.

  1. dianetavegia

    dianetavegia
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    Our SBC currently has AWANA's. Some leaders were talking this past Wednesday about how they really don't like AWANA's and would like to go back to RA's and GA's.

    I'm wondering how the youth feel about the programs? I think AWANA's is great for memorization but the kids really aren't learning anything else, and most of the verses are learned at home.

    Any thoughts?
    Diane
     
  2. WW2'er

    WW2'er
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    Diane,

    I must admit I don't have any first hand experience with RA's and GA's but I know a little about them and a lot about Awana. (Oh, that's another thing. It is "Awana" not "Awana's". Awana is an acronym for "Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed". There is no "S".)

    The success of an Awana program depends largely upon the attitude and committment of the leaders that run it. If your leaders aren't committed to the program, the kids will pick up on that and feed off of it. I would suggest that you have your commander contact the local Awana missionary and have him (or a member of his ministry team) come do an evaluation of your club. This can really help identify the areas of need/concern and give you practical advice on how to improve them.

    Has your church started using the new Truth and Training materials from Awana for third through sixth graders? Kids seem to really like the new handbooks! The beginning material all kids go through is a gospel tract and the handbooks are like a Christian apologetics course. They really aim to not only teach kids verses, but have the verses be support for anwers to great questions like, "Why did God give us the Bible? and Who is God?"

    Awana also has the advantages of a great website (Awana.org), regional missionaries, regional events like AwanaGames and quizzing, regional training conferences, summer camps for high achievers, and a full integrated program that goes from 3 year old's through high school. Does RA's and GA's offer any of this? (I honestly don't know.)

    I know that one "Complaint" registered against Awana by those in favor of RA's and GA's is that Awana doesn't focus on or teach about missions. However, council time messages can always be tailored to a missions focus and Awana offers great missions trips through their Missionary In Training (MIT)program for senior highers. They also offer an Adopt-a-Club program through which a club here in the states can help get club supplies to an overseas club that can't afford to run the program themselves. The club gets a report from the supported club or missionary and it really helps the kids to understand the impact of missions and how children everywhere need the gospel.

    Every church is unique and obviously, Awana is not for everyone. However, more and more SBC churches are converting to or starting an Awana club. In the U.S., Awana clubs are running in over 9,500 churches and growing so they must be doing something right. Pray about it, but please don't be too quick to give up on your Awana club. Run correctly, Awana is a great tool to not only reach children and youth with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but it can help grow a church by reaching the parents or family members of those clubbers too!

    God Bless and I will be praying for your church's decision. [​IMG]

    WW2'er
     
  3. dianetavegia

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    HI WW2er, Our AWANA's went to the Olympic's yesterday and I get the email updates from AWANA.org. Out of 200 kids, we didn't have enough clubbers for 2 full teams and had to use some kids from other churches.

    To answer your questions tho, our leaders are really not trained. I'm one of the only leaders who has ever gone through training or taken any classes. We're a very large SBC and I've never seen our missionary at this church in the 3 years we've been members. I know Brian and his wife from a tiny church we used to attend in our same town, tho.

    I asked earlier in the year if we were going to be using the new material and was told it was not being considered. I had read about Truth and Training on the AWANA website. Also, our church only offers AWANA's through 5th grade.

    The complaints on Wednesday night had to do with:

    Game Time: Games are too rough. All games are geared toward those who want to attend the Olympics. Too much emphasis is placed on games and not enough on activities.

    Handbook Time: Verses for those in K-2nd grade are geared for those who are good readers or those with families involved in their children's AWANA experience. We have about 30 leaders and listener's for about 200 kids on Wednesday night.

    Council Time: Our kids are watching movies a LOT.

    General: The kids need to be visiting nursing homes or helping in the community or church.

    I was a G.A. back in the 50's and 60's and loved my leader. One of my grown sons was an R.A. for a few years. It's been too many years for me to really remember that program well.

    My son, Nick, is a 2nd grade Spark who is finishing his final book and going into his review this week. He's done some extra workbooks in previous years and knows so many verses. I'm one of his leaders.

    Oh... LOL... one MAJOR complaint about AWANA clubs is that the shirts are SO ugly.

    We're searching for a new Youth Minister so things could change later but I don't forsee us giving up AWANA clubs right now. Just wondered about the new R.A./ G.A. programs versus AWANA.

    Diane
     
  4. WW2'er

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    Oh Diane!

    Please don't take this the wrong way, but it sounds like your club needs help! :(

    In the spirit of love, let me offer you the following advice... [​IMG]

    1. Do whatever you can to convince your pastor and commander of the essential need for leader training. ALL leaders should attend a basic training session and pass a basic training test. The best clubs have all their leaders attend a leadership conference in the fall to learn beyond the basics and pick up great tips from other experienced leaders.

    2. I'm sorry your Awana missionary hasn't visited, (The average missionary has over 125 churches in their territory and some over 200!)but please contact and invite him to come and do an evaluation. He's a wonderful resource available to your church so please use him!

    3. Switch to the T&T material next year. It really is a great improvement over the old material. The old material will only be available through next year anyway, so the question is....why wait an extra year? (This will also require attending a training session so it would be another way to get your leaders trained. :D )

    4. Talk to your Game Director about game variety. There are books that Awana offers that offer plenty of exciting games. There should probably be one new one every week along with some favorites. There are plenty of "non-rough" games. Also make sure that he knows that gametime shouldn't be used as an AwanaGames practice. Games should be fun and attractive to kids, but not the purpose of the night.

    5. Spread out the responsibilities for council time. Have every leader take a week. Don't allow more than one video every 8 club nights. Videos have their place, but can quickly become an excuse for a shy or lazy leader. If everyone gets a turn they don't feel overburdened and the variety of stories and lessons should help to keep the kids attention.

    6. Organize an outing like you suggested - visiting a nursing home or helping around the church. Sure it's not an "official" part of the program, but there's nothing wrong with that! Awana always supports kids putting their faith into action!

    7. Use the forums at Awana.org They have plenty of really helpful people who could help your club with issues regarding handbook time and not spending all your time with the best learners. The forums are a GREAT addition to the Awana website.

    8. Ditch the grey shirts! Awana now offers great looking casual polo shirts for clubbers and leaders and even a T-shirt option just for clubbers. They have been so popular this year, Awana has not been able to keep them in stock! (Seems your church isn't alone in not liking the grey uniforms!)

    Well, I hope these ideas help. I know you want opinions on RA's/GA's, but I just couldn't resist jumping in and trying to help your Awana club. I hope it fulfills the goal of Awana to "Reach boys and girls with the gospel of Jesus Christ and train them to serve Him."

    God Bless! [​IMG]
    WW2'er

    [ February 09, 2003, 09:50 PM: Message edited by: WW2'er ]
     
  5. SaggyWoman

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    I haven't even read through everyone's comments. I will after I type my thoughts, and will probably have more to say.

    Comment 1: Having never done Awana, I don't know whether I should do it. I have heard people rave about it, but I think it takes many workers that sometimes we don't have.

    Comment 2: I think whatever you do, you must invest yourself in, and it will succeed.

    Comment 3: My love is missions, and I would hesitate to give up a good missions program to anything else. Children need their Bible study, but they also need missions. Done right and with passion, any church could strive to have a good RA/GA program.

    Comment 4: Our church at one point had a vibrant RA and GA program. Depending on leadership, it went up and down. RA's went down for a long period of time, but now has a passionate leader. Both RA's and GA's are thriving now.
     
  6. Tentmaker

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    Something you may want to consider:
    Awana Clubs
    Ecumenical Children's Clubs?....

    I had posted here some information from a ministry in which I had trusted in the past. After further research I found no longer worthy of that trust.
    To those who may have been offended by its content I deeply and sincerely ask your forgiveness.

    [ February 11, 2003, 12:46 AM: Message edited by: Tentmaker ]
     
  7. WW2'er

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    Tentmaker, I will trust that your motives in bringing this up are pure, but it frustrates me how much people put their trust in newsletters
    that never go to the source to ask questions on issues directly, but instead
    focus on third-party information. This information is also outdated and
    leads to many wrong assumptions. :(

    Here is the page that lists the doctrinal statement of Awana Clubs International.

    http://www.awana.org/webelieve.asp

    The statement is quite conservative and totally biblical.

    For a church to register with Awana they must understand that all Awana materials teach the truths of scripture as stated in the doctrinal statement. An Awana missionary will talk with the pastor of the church and point out any differences between the Awana doctrinal statement and what that church's own position or their denomination's position is.

    Knowing these differences, to run an Awana club, a church must agree to teach the Awana materials as presented and not change or omit any part of the program or materials. So, why would any church that disagrees doctrinally with the Awana material agree to teach that material to their children? The answer is....99.9% of the time, they don't. For the handful that do, they are teaching the truth of scripture and the gospel of grace through faith in the work of Jesus Christ just like all the other Awana programs. Awana always holds the right to drop a church from the program if it determines they are not holding true to the registration agreement.

    Being ecumenical, is lowering your standards or accepting everyone. Awana does NOT do this! Awana holds firm to God's word and His standards.

    Tentmaker, if you would like to discuss this issue further, I would be happy to converse with you about it. However, perhaps we should start a new thread as this is definitely off the issue of comparing Awana with RA's and GA's.

    God Bless! [​IMG]
    WW2'er
     
  8. Sularis

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    I grew up through the Awana program and am only two years away from getting my Citation award if I ever find a group to join in to finish as I did two years on my own

    They're getting rid of the grey uniforms Noooooo.... - they better not be getting rid of those pin awards - I was on my third bar before I moved - Im proud of the fact i have more awards then most - Im quite friendly with my old Awana missionary - i say hello to him at Toronto's Missionsfest - I also knew his daughters via Awana camp (a VERY worthwhile experience) - but as got to old - stopped talking - camp friendships
    (ahhhhh nostalgia)

    The Awana program is excellent - and it requires leaders who are capable of creativity or following orders to the letter.

    We had a games leader - his sole purpose is/was to make sure that the games werent just Olympic games - and I dont know about you but the tug of war and balloon bash were the only really violent events in the Olympics - I coached a team to silver - My team could have won gold - but it didnt feel right, not letting everyone have an individual event ;)

    I still remember my event - 3 legged race - we were the best there - but two other teams fell down in front of us and we had to go around them - we were so close - oh my Awana days are fond days - and I was a very socially inactive ;)
     
  9. C.S. Murphy

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  10. Sherrie

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    I am an AWANA leader for 7& 8th graders. JV's. I find this program is too expensive. And even while remembering verses after so many they do not remember the first one. Anyone can remember verses. I would rather see quaility time spent doing something that teaches these young adults out in the real world.
    I do have a problem with this AWANA program.

    Sherrie
     
  11. Madelyn Hope

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    I'm not familiar with AWANA's but some of my favorite childhood memories are from my years spent in GAs and Acteens. Looking back, I can see that one of the best things about the program was that it was one of the few times in the school/youth programs at my church when we were away from the boys. We tended to get a lot more special attention during GAs and in the upper elementary and high school years, a lot of the unpleasant parts of youth group (gossiping, acting out) were toned down somewhat when we were away from the guys.
     
  12. dianetavegia

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    Sherrie, you are so right! Vest, book and book bag is $22.00 I think! That's a lot of money for most families! Nick is on his second book this year and has grown so much that his vest is too small. Next year he moves into Pal's which is a new shirt, vest, etc.

    Nick learned all his verses to music and has retained them but then I home school and we use his AWANA verses as part of his Bible lessons. He's the only home schooled child in his age group and he's way ahead of the others because of the time we have to spend on this.

    Our church is searching for a full time Youth Minister. Hopefully this will all be fixed when we find 'him'.

    WW2er, no offense taken! I came here knowing that our club is not what it should be. I know what AWANA is supposed to be like from a previous (tiny country) church where I taught K-2nd grade. Honestly, this disorganization is driving leaders away.

    I think I'll write Brian and ask him to drop by and give us a hand. I'm sure I could express my concerns and ask him to be discreet.

    Thanks for all your replies!
    Diane
     
  13. SaggyWoman

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    Mission Friends is a good preschool version that goes with RA's and GA's.
     
  14. C.S. Murphy

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    No program is perfect and yes to run Awana correctly it is expensive but I am certain a good Ra/Ga program would be as well. All I can add is that during my first 7 years of ministry I don't remember one child being saved in our ra/ga programs but during my current pastorate (since april 02) I think I have baptized 10 children who I can honestly say were influenced by their Awana leaders and the program itself. I will also say to all the SBC leaders who bash awana that if more effort had been put into the ra/ga program maybe awana would not have replaced so many of them. I may have just experienced poorly run programs so if anybody is involved in a good one I would like to know what type of missions your ra/ga group is doing.
    Murph
     
  15. SaggyWoman

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    Actually, this is what I meant.
     
  16. SaggyWoman

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    I am speaking for only our church and our group.

    Teachers need to have a love for children.

    Teachers need to have a passion for what they are doing.

    Teachers need to be available to the children. And this means outside of the scheduled time for the meeting.

    Teachers need to plan ahead.

    Proper advertising is important.

    Carry out what you say you will do.

    Be involved yourself. Invest yourself.


    I guess all this can and does apply to both Awanas and RA's and GA's.
     
  17. SaggyWoman

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    Murph,

    Do I sense an embittered spirit? :confused: :eek: :rolleyes:

    There was a time when our church was looking to do Awana's. But.. we chose to try to make RA's and GA's work. It is now. Part of our problem with the RA's was lack of male leadership. The women stepped in when there were no men, and tried to lead. Until other male leaders were raised up, it was a downhill battle. Right now we have some passionate men doing RA's. And as a children's minister I stand behind them all the way. If we had Awana's, I would do the same.

    Our church's children's ministry as a whole seeks to do ministry and missions both through RA's and GA's, and outside of these organizations. We are very purpose driven in regards to this. Without tooting the horn of "doing", let it be said that our children are taught missions by curriculum as well as by doing.
     
  18. WW2'er

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    SaggyWoman, I like your list a lot. You are very correct that it would apply well to any children's program in the church.

    Is Awana too expensive? Think about what the average Awana child might pay for a year of Awana. (I know this might vary considerably depending on uniform/handbook needs and how much a church does or does not pay itself.) That's for approximately 32 weeks of 1.5 to 2 hour sessions of fun and spiritual teaching and training.

    How much does a babysitter cost for 8 hours?

    How much does a movie for two with popcorn and a soda cost?

    How much do Boyscouts or Girlscouts cost? (Don't forget to include cost of outings and cookies!)

    How much does one regular video or computer game cost?

    How much does it cost for a child to play baseball, football or soccer?

    How much do people pay for their child's schoolbooks, school clothes, and class trips?

    Looking at it in comparison, I think Awana or any similiar program is a great value! Why do folks expect their children's spiritual education and training to come so inexpensively? Is it because they don't properly value that training and see the church as an inexpensive babysitter?

    Please forgive me if I sound snyde or cynical. I don't want to come across that way. I know that unsaved parents will not place a high importance on spiritual training, however, my point is simply that people have no problem paying a lot of money either for "things" for their children to have or activities to be involved in because those things have value to them.

    I wish more churches and saved parents would value seeing kids saved and growing in Christ as truly important enough to invest mightily in whether that be Awana, RA's and GA's or ANY successfully run, God blessed youth program.

    Murphy, I will be praying for you. JV'ers are some of the hardest bunch to teach and I know you are a first time leader. As has been said here before, the attitude and committment of the leader is crucial to any program. I also know that new and improved Awana JV materials will not be out until fall of 2004. If you are struggling with the program, I would encourage you to contact your missionary or post to the Awana forums for advice. Also, giving the kids some real life experience instead of just handbook knowledge is fine. Plan a trip and get out and "Do" once in a while! JV and Varsity Awana programs are a lot more flexible than the more strictly run kids clubs. You should feel free to be innovative in method while keeping the excellent program teaching.

    Also, please remember folks...There is no such thing as "AWANA's". It's either "Awana" or "Awana clubs". [​IMG] (Ok, teacher mode: "Off" ) :D

    God Bless! [​IMG]
    WW2'er
     
  19. dianetavegia

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    AWANA's is what our church calls the clubs when speaking of Cubbies, Sparks, Pals, Maiden's, etc.... We use the term instead of 'clubbers'. We've only had AWANA's in our church for 3 years and only 30 adults out of 933 members work in the club or as listeners.

    MANY or most of our clubbers are not church children. Our church bus picks them up at an after school program and brings them over at 4:30 for choir, supper and then AWANA. Our church does not assist in the cost of uniforms, books, scarfs, vest, book bags, etc. I have one little black boy who has lost his book 3 times this year alone. His poor grandmother is quite tired of having to come up with $6.00 every few weeks. Those people do not look at AWANA as a help toward a child's salvation... but as extended child care.... and then act as if the church is trying to 'make money' off them when we ask for money for the child's book.

    AWANA is a great program for those few kids who learn their verses and retain that knowledge. I still contend they need to learn MORE and need to be more involved in the community.

    I spoke with my friend at the tiny country church that had such a great AWANA program. They've gone back to Royal Ambassador's and Girl's in Action (RA's and GA's).

    I don't have a say in this. I just was concerned when I heard the leaders (mom's) talking in the hall last week. The children who were going to the Olympics spent the full 1.5 hours in game time and the other children sat in their class rooms with nothing to do. No one was notified ahead of time about this and nothing was planned. Again, game time and olympics was the 'most important' aspect of the club. Soon it will be the 'race'.

    Diane
     
  20. WW2'er

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    Diane,

    I am sorry to hear such things about your club. :( It grieves me. I am glad that you clearly understand that is not how a club is supposed to be run and is definitely not the "norm". I will continue to be in prayer for your and your church's club.

    You know, even the current president of Awana was ready to shut down his church's Awana program when he first became pastor of a church with an Awana program. (This was before he even knew about Awana.) He saw leaders and kids with no uniforms, little discipline and instruction and other problems. But before he shut it down, he sat down and read the training manual and realized what his church was running was not a "true" Awana club. His wife took over as commander, trained the leaders, planned, and ran the program as directed and attendance, excitement, salvations, and church growth took off! That was all it took to convince him of the potential of the Awana ministry.

    I pray that whatever program or tools a church uses, it is effective in reaching kids and youth for Christ! The only real "Competition" is from the devil. :eek:

    God Bless!
    WW2'er
     

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