The ministry of Awana looks similar, yet different, all over the world. No two churches, even ones in the same country or city, run their child/youth discipleship programs exactly the same way. If you don’t believe it, visit another church’s Awana club near you. Or, check out Awana’s MORE[+] documentary and watch the videos on its Learn More webpage. God is using this ministry to serve and equip churches—in ways that work best in their context—so they can reach kids with the gospel and engage them in lifelong discipleship!
With all of the programming flexibility Awana provides churches these days, it begs the question: “What’s at the core of Awana that never changes?” Well, this topic requires a lot more than one blog post—and, we’ll definitely keep tackling this in future posts.
For today, we specifically want to draw your attention to what unifies true Awana leaders near and far. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a great starting point as you celebrate current leaders and search for ideal candidates to serve in your Awana ministry!
1. Love for God and His Word.
There’s a big difference between a believer that carries a Bible around and a disciple that seeks to honor God by storing up Scripture in his or her heart. This statement isn’t about memorizing as much as it stems from the virtues found in Awana’s namesake verse:
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
True Awana leaders, even before signing up to serve, tend to devote themselves to reading, studying, reflecting on, and applying God’s Word. They take the Bible seriously because it’s essential to knowing, loving, and serving Christ. Passages like Psalm 1 and 119 stand out to them because walking with God happens in step with His Word. And so, when disciples like this are introduced to the ministry of Awana, something resonates immediately. It’s amazing to watch their eyes light up when their heart syncs up with one of the core aspects of every Awana ministry.
2. Compassion for kids of all ages.
At the heart of Awana is the belief that every child, everywhere in the world, matters deeply to God and deserves to be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s why the ministry was founded in the first place—to share the heavenly Father’s good news of salvation with kids and teens and train them up to do the same. This caring concern surfaces in response to Jesus’ stern message in Matthew 18 about how much God values children of all ages.
True Awana leaders can’t help but react when they hear about what today’s kids and youth are facing. It grieves them to think that many may never experience saving faith unless someone intervenes before they graduate high school. Ultimately, they long for children of all ages to experience a vibrant, eternal relationship with Jesus Christ as part of His church family. And, they also recognize the important role family plays in steering kids and youth toward or away from lifelong discipleship. Fueled by a God-given compassion for kids of all ages, true Awana leaders are excited to introduce them to Jesus and the lasting hope that’s found in Him alone.
3. Desire for disciple-making ministry.
The Apostle Paul’s relationship with Timothy is a fantastic example of Jesus’ Great Commission in action. In Matthew 28:18-20, Christ sent His followers out to make disciples who make disciples, and this is exactly what Paul did. Timothy apprenticed under Paul as both a spiritual father figure and fellow follower of Jesus. Their relationship centered on spreading the gospel and multiplying ministry in the way of Christ. As proponents of the church in Acts 2:42-47, Paul and Timothy championed disciple-making ministry everywhere they went. And as a result of their living out Jesus’ command in Acts 1:8, millions upon millions throughout history are part of God’s family today.
True Awana leaders gravitate toward apprenticeship as followers of Jesus Christ. They recognize the importance of personal spiritual disciplines and the accountability that comes from being in likeminded community. As they consider what it takes to walk with God day by day, they want to do this in tandem with other disciples. And, they want to be apart of a bigger mission that’s dedicated to multiplying followers of Jesus. Because disciple making is central to what Awana is all about, true Awana leaders often show up long before they sign on the dotted line to serve because their heart already beats fast for this kind of ministry.
Bonus: I Think I Found a “True Awana Leader,” Now What?
If you encounter someone that loves God and His Word, has compassion for kids of all ages, and shows a desire for disciple-making ministry, let them know they might be a great fit for your Awana ministry as a leader. You can also tell him or her that Awana not only provides an amazing children’s/youth discipleship program, but it’s also supported with training and resources. In other words, Awana serves and equips churches so the love, compassion, and desire of its leaders can effectively reach kids with the gospel and engage them in lifelong discipleship!