OK, I admit, SALL is not a very good acronym.
I created a Serve and Drama Team for our AWANA program this year, but I just couldn’t pull together a decent acronym. Sometimes you have to know the limits of what you can do. I’ll leave the acronym generation for those who follow on with this program.
For several years, I’ve been worried about a disturbing trend I am noticing in churches.
While kids are in elementary school, some churches do a pretty good job of teaching them about the Bible and giving them a chance to be involved. At our church, fourth, fifth and sixth-graders serve in the nursery, lead worship for the younger grades, or help out with preschool classes. In AWANA we encourage them to memorize God’s Word and bring friends with them to church. There seems potential to become useful members of the body of Christ.
Then they get to Junior High age, and it seems like everything changes. Lay-leader adults, effective in the elementary years, find themselves ill-equipped to handle the hormones and energy often found among Junior High kids. Some youth leaders focus on reaching un-churched kids from the community; because of this, typical youth programs end up being heavy on games and entertainment and short on in-depth Bible teaching. Many of the service projects that youth groups pursue are really fundraisers for their own retreats and parties.
For some reason, it is rare that I see teenagers held to a high standard of servant leadership. It is no surprise to me that many young people leave the church after high school. For six years they are typically treated to a steady diet of entertainment and self-focus, and then are suddenly dumped, entirely unprepared, into the adult church body. Lacking the maturity to appreciate good Bible teaching and worship, they are also severely atrophied in service, and so (from this consumer mentality) they conclude that the church has nothing for them.
So I started a Serve and Drama Team as a way to begin building the ‘serve muscles’ among some of the youth (in this case AWANA achievers) of our church. My hope is that our teenagers, with all their passion and energy, could discover their spiritual gifts and be a blessing and an asset to the church.
This is our pilot year. So far, we’ve performed about ten different skits for the Council Time part of AWANA, serving the Sparks and T&T kids (and their leaders) by acting out Bible stories and gospel-illustrating skits. We have also done several service projects, including:
- Detailing the cars of AWANA leaders
- Creating gift baskets for the five pastors of our church
- Providing a tasty snack for the entire choir, at the end of their rehearsal
- Cleaning and reorganizing the Drama Resource room
- Writing more than two dozen ‘Thank-You’ cards to church leaders
My hope is that the best and brightest of the Junior High kids will choose to serve their church and their Lord during these (typically self-absorbed) years. I started by pre-selecting the best kids in our AWANA program. The prerequisite to the Drama and Serve Team is completion of three of the T&T books, which requires a significant level of effort over several years. (I’ll accept a comparable level of effort in scripture memorization, for kids who haven’t been involved in AWANA during their 3rd-5th grade years.)
I hope to equip and inspire these kids to offer their energy, leadership and spiritual gifts to the Church, and to set a challenging standard for the other teenagers in our community.
I have ten kids in the program, ranging from age
10 9 to 15, and I have to say, they are well on their way to becoming champions. I am very excited at the prospect of preparing them to be the core of the next generation of servant leaders at our church.
Project 365, Day 56