If you’re like me, then it is inevitable that as a clubber approaches the “bring a friend section” in their handbooks, that they begin to look for alternatives. I recently had a clubber ask me, “are there verses I can learn or something?” Now while learning verses like the great commission that instruct us to go out and tell others is good and encouraged by several, I believe that the purpose of the section is to encourage the child to share their faith and not be ashamed – you know Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed.
If we simply have a child learn another verse, then we are losing an opportunity to help the child and the family learn how to reach out to others. I hear people complain that Awana is all about memorizing verse, and if you allow only the recitation of another verse, then you are supporting that perspective and you are leaving out an important component of Awana, the training them to serve.
The bring a friend section is an action section. Think about the sections in the Sparks handbooks where the clubber is required to do chores at home, obey parents, etc… What if the child comes up and says I can’t obey my parents. Do we accept that and say okay, just memorize Ephesians 6:1 or Colossians 3:20? Probably not because if we do that, then they learn that they should obey, but we minimize the need to apply it to their lives. So we send the message that learning Scripture is good, but you don’t need to live it out. Is that the message we want to send? No, at least I hope not, yet with the bring a friend section, that is the message we send. Yes we send the message that the Bible tells us to do it, but I know it makes you uncomfortable or you’re unable to so just learn a verse about how you should be doing something, but don’t bother doing it. Do we really want to send that message? I pray that you do not.
Yes, I know that there are situations where clubbers cannot bring two friends to club. I experience that. In my current church, we have several families that homeschool and so the other children they know are Christians attending other churches and Awana clubs and several of the “church” children have the same circle of friends as others. So the people they know already know God. And then there are situations where the clubber may ask several friends, but the child’s parent does not permit them to attend.
So when these situations arise, there are options, but I encourage you to use options that have them put their faith in to action. Make it an action section, not a memorization section. Work with the parents for ideas and maybe you can encourage a family activity.
Awana has provded several suggested alternatives that are acceptable, but please do not feel like you are “locked in” to only those. Help the clubbers in your care to reach out to others through this section.
To see a list of suggestions provided by Awana, you can look in the leader guide books for the club you work in and you can also see what they have made available on the Awana website (link valid as of this post), and eventhough the list does offer the suggestion of memorizing additional verses, I personally encourage you to make it an action section, and not a memorization section. Take this opportunity to help the clubber put their faith into action through the bring a friend section.