Awanas

SWIFTELK
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Re: Awanas

Post by SWIFTELK » Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:06 pm

Thank you for the replies. I told the kids we're passing on the program for now. That will give me another 4-5 months to stew it over though I'm inclined to stay away.

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mattrose
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Re: Awanas

Post by mattrose » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:10 am

morbo3000 wrote:I think we understand what he was asking differently. Which is fine. It explains your reaction to my reply. He said "My wife and I are trying to determine if we are too uptight or not and would like to take into account some other opinions to balance out (or justify) our concerns with awanas." I think you thought he was trying to determine something about the Awana international org+curriculum based on what he saw locally. I didn't hear him that way. I heard him asking for advice about the local program. Which makes sense, since he has to base his kids' involvement on what he sees locally.. not Awana int'l. I don't know enough about Awana int'l to know if it's the local group or Awana int'l that are off the reservation. I'm directly responding to the three points he made. My strong opinion on the subject is based on his description of those three things he experienced locally. And my experience of similar programs.. including most VBS's.
My first response recognized that the local concerns were legitimate while emphasizing that local concerns don't necessarily tarnish an entire ministry organization (since it was difficult to tell, from the opening post, if he was concerned about ONLY the local church OR ALSO the AWANA program in general. The next 2 replies included "AWANA=bad" (MMathis) and "it really is that bad." I assumed, based on the stream of the conversation. That your 'it' referred to AWANA in general.

Perhaps I was wrong to assume this. Your response may have been wholly independent of other responses. Indeed, since you just asked me if our church runs AWANA, you either didn't read or only skimmed my initial response (which says we do). I'm not faulting you for not reading my response, I just assumed you had because I tend to read all the other responses if I"m going to respond to a thread.

All in all, it doesn't sound like we're disagreeing in kind, just in degree. We both aren't fans of pledging the flag (though I don't consider it as repulsive as you seem to). We both are against over-emphasizing the sinner's prayer decision, especially in a pressure/reward situation. We both think it's dangerous to tell kids they may have to go against their parents wishes (though I pointed out that in some cases that may be necessary).

We only disagree in degree on those issues, I think. But there are other issues we seem to actually disagree about. I don't think there is anything wrong with rewarding good behavior (though this may be another disagreement in degree, I'm not sure). I also advised the original poster to have a conversation with the teacher/leaders at that local church rather than just leaving. You may not have read that. You may or may not agree. But I think it is very contradictory for people who claim to be against the individualism of 'sinners prayer' theology to also be the first to run when a church does something questionable. These are important conversations that need to be had, not run from... especially since you yourself admitted that the leaders in question probably have good motives. Wouldn't they want to hear these concerns? Maybe the original poster was God's plan to raise the issues and get them to look closer at their methods... but if the poster just leaves without that conversation, they might never think it through.

We started AWANA at our church 2 years ago. I know the 2 'commanders' have a heart for children and good theology. They don't want to bribe kids. They don't want to make the USA an idol. They don't want to pressure kids into a decision or get them to rebel against their parents. They like AWANA b/c it gives them a curriculum that is prepared b/c they both work full-time jobs. They like it b/c, since it is a big organization, they have a resource to help them with tough questions (like the one's asked in this thread). We've seen our kids ministry go from an average of 6 to 75 in 2 years. What's more, we've seen a good number of parents STAY for Bible study on AWANA nights and more than a dozen parents become regular attenders on Sunday morning. I, as a pastor, see those adults growing toward Christ.

So it is possible that I was too eager to defend AWANA in general, which is strange... b/c I don't actually like AWANA that much (I don't like pre-made curriculum's in general).

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mattrose
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Re: Awanas

Post by mattrose » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:17 am

SWIFTELK wrote:Thank you for the replies. I told the kids we're passing on the program for now. That will give me another 4-5 months to stew it over though I'm inclined to stay away.
I would still encourage you to express your concerns to the AWANA leaders and/or pastor of the church. It might be helpful for them to hear well intended critique. God bless!

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morbo3000
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Re: Awanas

Post by morbo3000 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:29 am

Matt.. you are right. I skimmed. Right or wrong.. I read the question, and answered with my opinion. I didn't really expect it to turn into a discussion, so I didn't approach it that way. You can see that I don't approach other threads that way. I'm not a troll.

If it's helpful to understand some of my passion about this subject, I'm an Anabaptist. My people died for issues of nationalism and infant baptism.
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SWIFTELK
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Re: Awanas

Post by SWIFTELK » Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:15 am

mattrose wrote:
SWIFTELK wrote:Thank you for the replies. I told the kids we're passing on the program for now. That will give me another 4-5 months to stew it over though I'm inclined to stay away.
I would still encourage you to express your concerns to the AWANA leaders and/or pastor of the church. It might be helpful for them to hear well intended critique. God bless!

I have a hard time thinking that my voice needs to be heard. I think they will do whatever they are going to do. This conversation though did prompt me to write a gentle note to the pastor of the church expressing my concerns. I haven't had a response back yet... not holding my breath, but the feedback was given.

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mattrose
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Re: Awanas

Post by mattrose » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:39 am

morbo3000 wrote:Matt.. you are right. I skimmed. Right or wrong.. I read the question, and answered with my opinion. I didn't really expect it to turn into a discussion, so I didn't approach it that way. You can see that I don't approach other threads that way. I'm not a troll.

If it's helpful to understand some of my passion about this subject, I'm an Anabaptist. My people died for issues of nationalism and infant baptism.
I consider Anabaptism my closest theological persuasion as well.

Greg Boyd's 'myth of a christian nation' is one of my favorite books. I took a 1 year fast of 'pledging the flag' b/c I felt convicted to make sure nationalism wasn't an idol in my life. I don't think the flag should be in church, or saying the pledge. We're probably in pretty tight agreement on these things.

BUT, I also don't think pledging the flag is sinful. I don't think everyone is convicted in this way. I don't think it need mean anything more than a pledge to be a good citizen so long as the nation is not going against God's law in our lives.

I know the discussion became more than it needed to be, but I have a real passion for not making sweeping statements and it sounded like you were.

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mattrose
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Re: Awanas

Post by mattrose » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:41 am

SWIFTELK wrote:
mattrose wrote:
SWIFTELK wrote:Thank you for the replies. I told the kids we're passing on the program for now. That will give me another 4-5 months to stew it over though I'm inclined to stay away.
I would still encourage you to express your concerns to the AWANA leaders and/or pastor of the church. It might be helpful for them to hear well intended critique. God bless!

I have a hard time thinking that my voice needs to be heard. I think they will do whatever they are going to do. This conversation though did prompt me to write a gentle note to the pastor of the church expressing my concerns. I haven't had a response back yet... not holding my breath, but the feedback was given.
That's good. i'm glad you wrote the note. You are right that nothing may ever come of it, but we should always give people the opportunity, at least. I know that, as a pastor, I'd appreciate such a thing... even if I disagreed with the note.

paulespino
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Re: Awanas

Post by paulespino » Fri May 31, 2013 2:47 am

Swiftelk:
They pledge allegiance to the flag
I think pledging allegiance to the flag is Patriotism. I don't see anything wrong with this as long as we keep on loving others which I'm sure is being taught in AWANAS.

Swiftelk:
I personally don't pledge allegiance to the flag because I feel it fringes on idolatry not to mention our country is not "one nation under God".
It only becomes idolatry if the person worship the flag otherwise it is not idolatry but rather patriotism.

Swiftelk:
They also pledge allegiance to the Awanas flag which just strikes me as stupid.
Again I do not see anything wrong with this as long as they do not worship the flag.

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darinhouston
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Re: Awanas

Post by darinhouston » Fri May 31, 2013 9:24 am

You can't insist that everyone share your personal conviction about flags. I personally do. I would rather they not be in churches. But clearly the Bible does teach us to be good citizens so long as doing so doesn't go against God. Having a flag and saying a pledge need not mean more than that.
I don't think we can insist that Awanas or any other program eliminate the flag. However, it's a legitimate concern and one that should be at least raised in a respectful way. If the program leader still wants to do the flag thing, then I would express my personal conviction and ask if it would be a problem if I ask my child to cover his heart (or salute or whatever) in respect but remain silent during the pledge. If so, then I would question whether I can instruct my child otherwise or take a pass on the program. Peronally, I believe it is a very ambiguous matter and one that blurs the distinctions between "good citizenship" on the one hand and "allegiance" (uh, ummm... -- that's actually part of the pledge? -- I seek clarity of thought in my children and to not recite things they don't understand) on the other hand. I have had the issue in scouts and my son has been really cool about it and no one has asked why he doesn't recite it. My daughter, though, is being "taught" the pledge in her pre-school class and they practice recitation individually so it's hard to avoid (a Christian school in a church). I have tried to explain the difference between "learning it" through recitation and "saying it" as a pledge from your heart. She's pretty savvy, and wants to do the right thing and I think she can learn to distinguish the difference, but I don't like that I have to make truth so fuzzy at their age.

Anyway, here's a thought experiment for those who think it's just good citizenship (I love the hypothetical about the statue of the Emperor). What if your job sent you overseas -- perhaps to Syria -- China -- Libya -- name it -- somewhere you don't agree with the culture? We are called to be respectful of the culture within which we are located -- what if you were asked (in church of all places) to recite a pledge of allegiance to the Premier of China or to the Taliban? Would you think differently of the impact of the pledge? We are sojourners -- ambassadors -- citizens of a different sort than the pledge assumes.

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darinhouston
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Re: Awanas

Post by darinhouston » Fri May 31, 2013 9:42 am

The other day at scouts the leader asked the kids to stand up en masse and raise their hands and PROMISE to sell all their coupon books. Not to “try” – to “give their best” – to “be good stewards” but to do something most of them all but certainly wouldn’t do. On the surface, it seemed innocuous to most in the room and most of them were “good Christian people” who went to church and “pledged allegiance” to God weekly etc. (without a thought). But, to me it was a stark reminder how different the world is from our calling in Christ and how narrow the path really is and that we are called to higher expectations of truth and righteousness, etc. I believe our kids risk going down the same broad road of mindless recitations and pledges and this matter of the flag is as good an opportunity as I can imagine to draw that distinction at an early age, to bring real context to the challenges facing Daniel or to make Shadrack, Meshak and Abednego more than just a cute song. More important, though – we teach them that words matter – that they should not blindly do or say ANYTHING just because everyone else is doing it or the masses expect it from them. Does this risk alienation or feelings of “differentness” I hope so.

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