Category Archives: AWANA

AWANA Work Continues

This has been a significant year for the AWANA program at our church. We have been working since the Fall to integrate more and more of the administrative aspect of AWANA onto the computer. Tim has developed a unique AWANA website program for us. The children, leaders and volunteers are all registered on the system. We can move kids from team to team online, track their attendance and easily maintain the general records. All of the check-ins are done on the computer, and we have moved away from much of our former paperwork. It’s been an exciting process.

Not everything is done on the computer.

Not everything is done on the computer.

Our incredible AWANA Admin person retired last year, and all summer I think we were either in shock or denial because NO ONE stepped up to do her job. NO ONE contacted her to talk about the work or the details involved in running admin. NO ONE got her files or did any prep work at all.

"Yes, get me an admin person.  Immediately!"

“Get me an admin person. Immediately! Yes, I’ll wait.”

"Who Me?  No, I'm not available."

“Who Me? I can’t do it, I’m only in the 7th grade.”

Cue panic when September hit and the directors all realized NO ONE was in charge or running the administrative details. After many emails back and forth with the Commander and several LONG, PAINFUL evenings with parents trying to register and pay for the program, we finally got things up and running. As Mrs. T&T Director the last few years, I handled all of Tim’s T&T paperwork and behind the scenes work. This year I quickly realized I was the logical choice to serve as the AWANA administrative secretary. Maybe I knew it all along and was just in deep denial over the summer. Ha.

"Show me that again."

“Show me that again.”

"Mom, it's really more fun playing with toys than working on silly AWANA paperwork."

“Mom, it’s really more fun playing with toys than working on silly AWANA paperwork.”

It has been a year full of trial and error as we’ve transitioned things onto our web site, made mistakes, fed parents cookies and treats as they stood in long lines, had fantastic successes, enjoyed the ease of computerized check-ins and quick changes, etc. I have been so blessed over the years as God has brought me creative, talented, patient admin staff (Love you, Jacque and Sally). This year, I have another wonderful partner in crime administration, and she consistently has my back on the busy AWANA evenings, helps me think about what we modify and change, and calms me down when I’m feeling frantic. Thank you, Krystal!!

As the year is rapidly drawing to a close, I definitely have to say the computer program has turned out fantastic! There are, of course, so many more things I’d like it to do. Thankfully I live with the programmer and can beg/request programming time this summer. Thanks, Tim. You’re my favorite computer guy!!

Today Krystal and I met to work on posters for the different clubs. We have at least six computer-run check in stations for the kids each week. We use a long wall divider as a backdrop for our registration and check in area. At one end are the Sparks (k-2nd grader) and the other end are the T&T’ers (3rd-5th grade). At the beginning of the year I had the names written on large sheets of paper and hung on the divider behind us. After some more brainstorming with Krystal, we came up with a great idea for using colored poster board and individual print outs of the kids’ names. That way we can easily move them around from team to team and kids come and go.

Marco the Cat is so helpful with these projects.

Marco the Cat is so helpful with these projects.

Krystal already has an idea for how we can change the team posters for next year. As I said, she’s wonderful! We are constantly improving and modifying things to make sure they run smoothly and efficiently! Can’t wait. I love serving the kids in this capacity. And I am so grateful to the leadership at our church that encourages innovation, creativity and change (when needed).

Project 365 – Day 96

Share or follow

Related posts:


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.

Serve, Act, Lead, Love

Serve, Act, Lead, Love

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.

My favorite drama and serve team kids.

My favorite drama and serve team kids.

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
A pile of thank-you cards, written tonight.

A pile of thank-you cards, written tonight.

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.

They sneakily wrote me a note while I was out of the room!

They sneakily wrote me a note while I was out of the room!

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

Share or follow

Related posts:

Weary Wednesday

I was sitting in a comfortable chair, just starting to consider the prospect of going to bed, when Kathy dredged-up that fateful question:

“Did you take any pictures, today?” Kathy is a lot more committed to the Project 365 thing than I am, but we’ve divided it so that I ‘own’ all odd-numbered days.

I forgot that it was my day to blog. Feeling rebellious, I tried to weasel out of my responsibility.

“I don’t think I’ll blog. I’m too tired.” I tried (and failed) to keep a whine out of my voice.

I am always tired on Wednesdays. I get up early on those days to meet with my prayer and accountability group (we assemble at 6 a.m. at a local Panera’s). After work, I hurriedly get ready for AWANA, and then I’m “on” as a Drama leader and coach for the next several hours.

By the time I get home around 8:45 pm, I’m beat.

Three of my favorite dishwashers.

Three of my favorite dishwashers.

Fortunately, the kids wash any dishes that need to be washed, although tonight it looked like David got saddled with most of the work.

One of the reasons I am especially tired after AWANA is that I try to remember the kids names and some of their birthdays. With more than 80 kids in the Sparks and T&T programs, this gets pretty challenging. Last year, I had about 40 kids in the T&T program, and by the end of the year, I had their names and birthdays pretty well down. This year, not so much.

I write the kids' names and birthdays down in this notebook, but it doesn't seem to help, much.

I write the kids’ names and birthdays down in this notebook, but it doesn’t seem to help, much.

If I can’t guess their name (or if I consistently know their name, I switch to birthdays) then I have to give them a wooden nickel, which they can redeem for a can of soda. They pretty much swarm like piranhas around me after Council Time, and greatly enjoy it when I forget their names. I keep meaning to sit down and memorize the list of kids, but some of them consistently slip through the cracks of my memory.

Project 365, Day 42

Share or follow

Related posts:

AWANA – Aye Wanna Pie Ya

"NO, you can't make me go!  Save me!"

“NO, you can’t make me go! Save me, Kathy!”

Tim is amazing! He gives his heart and soul for our church’s AWANA program. He’s served as the T&T director for several years now, and he continues to pour faithfully into the lives of the children who come every week. Last week the Commander (head of the program) told the kids, “Whoever says the most Discoveries next week gets to Pie Mr. Tim!!” Such screaming and cheering as you wouldn’t believe. A few of the girls spent HOURS memorizing their Bible verses and working on extra projects.

"Don't do it, Kivi, there's still time to walk away."

“Here’s a nickel, Kivi, pie Mr. Jim instead!”

AT some point Tim incorporated the Thankful Chair into our T&T Council Time. Every week he brings up two different children to share something for which they are thankful. The kids BEG to be picked for their turn. They love having a moment in the spotlight. This year he decided to teach them a little bit about prayer, and he used the Thankful Chair to accomplish this. He tells the kids regularly, “Praying is just talking to God. Praying out loud is just praying where other people can hear you.” So now the T & T’ers come up to the front, sit in the Thankful Chair, say their name and lead us in a prayer, sharing what they are thankful for. It’s beautiful, simple and a precious gift to watch. Tim usually beams and encourages them, “Some ADULTS don’t even like to pray aloud, and you are ALREADY learning the joy of doing it now!”

"Hmmm, I wonder if I should have shaved first?"

“Hmmm, I wonder if I should have shaved first?”

Passionate for the Word of God, Tim is constantly searching for interesting and creative ways to encourage the kids to memorize their verses and work through their T&T books. Each time someone finishes a discovery (8 sections in their book – a difficult feat) they are recognized up front, receive a pin for their badge and get to pick one of Mr. Tim’s cool prizes. Oh, the fun he has in tracking down things for these kids – he buys children’s Bibles, small jewelry, bags, comic Bibles, Christian t-shirts, Odyssey cd’s, praise music, candy, books, fuzzy socks, gloves, and little toys.

Got him good.  Now what to do with the rest in this dish?  Hit him again? Yep.

Got him good. Now what to do with the rest in this dish? Hit him again? Yep.

Oh, she goes in for another good shove in the face.

Oh, she goes in for another good shove in the face.

Last year Tim expressed to me a desire to learn the kids’ names. Since I sit at the registration table and check the children in each week and then go through their record books after verse time, it’s easy for me to put faces to names. Tim, however, is usually busy at registration time, and then spends the rest of the evening rushing around getting leaders into the right spot, taking care of different problems as they arise and preparing for council time.

No pies for this team!

No pies for this team!

This year Tim was more determined than ever and so he designed a wooden nickel just for our AWANA group. He told the kids, “If I don’t know your name, you get a wooden nickel.” Blank looks greeted him. “And, after AWANA, you can find me and redeem the nickels for a soda.” Cheers erupted! Ah the simple motivation of a can of pop. It didn’t take Tim long to learn all of the T&T’ers names. Next he told them, “Okay, now I know your names, the next thing I’m going to work on is your birthdays. You can come up to me at any point during AWANA, and if I don’t know your birthday, you get a wooden nickel. Only one time in the night, of course.” More cheers.

Don't take any wooden nickels ... unless they are like this one!

Don’t take any wooden nickels … unless they are like this one!

Sometimes I don’t understand Tim’s ideas or where he comes up with them. Really? Their birthdays, honey? And then he looks at me with those piercing eyes, “Just think of it, Kathy, a grown-up (not their relative or neighbor or teacher) who not only knows their names, but their birthdays! Some of these kids don’t have very many people in their lives who care about them. I care.”

What flavor was it?  Butterscotch?

What flavor was it? Butterscotch?

And for that he’ll even take a pie in the face for them.

Thank you, Tim, for loving these kids.


Share or follow

Related posts:

Goals, AWANA & Godly Plans

I LOVE fresh starts. My spirits lift when I think of new opportunities and new beginnings. I am definitely a Glass is Half Full kind of girl. Actually, I’m more like a Venti Americano ALL the WAY FULL kind of girl, but that’s another subject. As an optimist, I really and truly believe that THIS time I will meet my goals, THIS time I will change and grow, THIS time I will be different, conquer my weakness, blah, blah, blah.

This one keeps my heart full of joy and love!

I’m not sure why I continue to have such optimism when one of my other defining characteristics is a horrible inability to actually COMPLETE a project. Really, the only way I ever finish things is because they often come with concrete deadlines. Sigh.

Still, again this is where my optimistic nature immediately kicks in, I LOVE the New Year and the chance to reevaluate the previous year and cast some sort of vision for the upcoming year. In this and last weeks’ sermons, Pastor Jim has been teaching on the importance of establishing godly plans. [Best Time to Plant a Tree Pts 1 & 2] I so appreciate the emphasis on “godly” and “plans” rather than resolutions.

School and candy canes – perfect combination!

Tim and I have blogged on the subject of goals several times over the past few years. It has been a topic that encourages and challenges us in our growth as believers, parents, spouses, and servants in our local church body.

Last week Tim presented the idea of goal planning to our T&T kids at AWANA. These 3rd through 5th graders are such an exciting group to work with. They have energy, enthusiasm, and, unlike the younger ages, are capable of handling some complex and difficult concepts.

Brendan and Zach are ready for some serious goal planning!

Tim shared with them a video from the Skit Guys and selected six student to come up front and read a passage from I Corinthians 3. We try hard to keep the kids engaged and interested in the Word of God – and nothing like a little competition (“Pick me, Mr. Tim! Pick me!”) to focus their attention. :)

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. I Corin 3:10-15

Finally Tim passed out some goal planning sheets for the kids. Here’s a link to the Word file. I respect Tim immensely for encouraging the children to think about the upcoming year and make some decisions about how they want to spend their time and energy.

Mr. Tim offers a special prize for the kids who return their goal sheets!

Love that the night hasn’t even ended and Bethlehem already has her form filled out!

It has been a tremendous blessing to serve in AWANA as a family over the past few years. Tim is the T&T Director. I help him in T&T’s (administrative duties and the like). Daniel works in the games department (as Joshua did before he went off to college). Rachel is a Sparks leader (probably one of the best in the whole program). Sarah is a current T & T’er and David helps in Sparks when he isn’t attending middle school.

Another awesome T&T’er.

I hope to do some work on my only godly plans for 2013 as well in the next two weeks. I’m sure this will be the year …


Share or follow

Related posts: