October 11, 2006

Growing Faith in Kids

About an hour from now, my family will climb into the mini-van as we usually do on Wednesday evenings, and drive into town so my sons can attend Awana. This is the second year we've participated in the program; the kids have fun and get immersed in the Bible, and Mom & Dad get a date night :-).

If you've read my blog for a while, and if you're familiar with Awana, you might be surprised at our involvement. My take on Christianity is fairly progressive, while Awana is most definitely not. The organization has a statement of faith, many parts of which I don't totally agree with. However, I send my kids there for one important reason: progressive Christianity has yet to come up with a program of such quality.

My kids are learning the books of the Bible and memorizing Bible verses. They're reading scripture and praying. They're having fun doing it, because as they do, they earn awards, play games, and participate in special activities. But in most progressive churches I know, the few kids that can be rounded up attend a poorly planned Sunday School (if there is one), and that's about it. Their faith never becomes an important part of their lives, and by the time they graduate from high school (if not sooner), they stop coming and all but forget about growing in faith.

My reasons for sending my kids to Awana are not that different than the reasons I was a part of Campus Crusade Bible Studies in college. The Campus Crusaders were the only ones on campus who seemed interested in reading and discussing scripture. Of course, they also were obsessed with keeping tallies of how many people they'd "saved," so my relationship with them could only last so long.

This week, I've been brainstorming. When you brainstorm, you come up with ideas that are either really really good, or completely nuts, and I'm not sure yet which way I'm headed. But I've got an idea: a program of awards, achievements, and fun for mainstream/progressive Christians. Achievement can be earned in categories such as mission, stewardship, reconciliation, polity/identity, baptism, etc. It will be ongoing; something that will last from grade school through the teen years. It will complement the program & goals of scouting, and possibly similar organizations.

I don't know if anything will come of this. One moment, I picture myself as the founder of a whole new organization; the next moment, I see this as a momentary wish that will fizzle away in a few days and be forgotten.

What do you think?


Guido said...

I know where you are coming from on two fronts.
I often have ideas that blossom and die shortly afterwards.

Children's faith...I recently left the church I serve. We wound up looking for churches. We were looking for three things. Something for my sons, something for my wife to find healing, and something that would work for me.

We are going to a community church that has a great band, powerful preaching, and a children's program that is pretty cool.

My son leaves the children's program excited. It is not the 1970's version that the churches I serve run out. There are skits, worship, games, and studies. My son leaves excited.

I understand why you go to Awana.

Fearless Joy,

Dennis Sanders said...

Thanks for the post. I was actually a part of AWANA back in the early 80s, and I have to credit it with my knowledge of the Bible and my becoming a pastor. While they might consider me a lost cause these days since I'm gay and don't agree with some of their theology, I still think they are a good group in helping form kids in the Christian faith. It's a pity that mainline churches don't have a counterpart. I totally get why you are sending your kids to Awana and the mainline needs to get more interested in trying to help parents form kids in the faith.

Dennis Sanders
Oscar the Pastor