AWANA Advent Devotional
Not many things will put you in the Christmas spirit the way an Advent Calendar will. The anticipation builds each day wondering what surprise awaits behind each door. In our house, we have an awesome calendar with magnetic people and animals that combine together to recreate the nativity, or that first Christmas morning. My daughter loves trying to guess what piece she will find behind the door. By Christmas morning, we have a full manger scene. Personally, I am partial to a Lego advent calendar, being able to building a mini model each day. (Yes, I love my lego sets)
The team over at AWANA has put together something even better than a Lego calendar. Imagine an advent calendar that holds a surprise for each member of the family. Rather than a toy or a candy, you will find a short devotion helping to remind you of the real meaning of Christmas. Not only will you have a bible passage and corresponding devotion, you will also have a real life application. (the selections were written by 25 different authors, parents, and pastors!)
Depression in Ministry
“Am I depressed? Of course not, I am in ministry or leadership.”
I have a feeling that many of us have thought this at one time or another. Many different circumstances can cause feelings of depression. While many of us think or feel this way, few of us will admit it, especially those in a leadership role or a ministry position. Can you be in ministry and be depressed?
The simple answer is yes.
My goal is not to determine whether you are depressed or not, nor to prescribe treatment for your depression. My goal is simple— to let you know you are not alone in your feelings.
Yes, I said it. No matter what you believe God’s will is for your life, it is not kid’s ministry, nor any ministry for that matter.
Take a minute and answer this question— “What is God’s will for my life?”
There was a point in my life not too long ago that when I was asked that question, my answer was to do my best for God. I believed that. I thought God wanted me to do my best— in my ministry, in my family, at my job. That seems simple enough, right? Do my best and God will be happy with me?
God’s will is not for me to do my best.
We often think of prayer as asking God for something. While that is one aspect, there is much more to prayer. Prayer is a form of communication, but it should be two way communication. Prayer is as much about you talking to God as it is about God talking to you. The question then becomes: “How does God speak to me”?
When God spoke to Moses, he did so through a burning bush. When God spoke to Elijah he spoke in a still small voice. Saul saw a blinding light and heard an audible voice when God spoke to him. Sometimes angels brought God’s word, other times God used prophets as his method to speak to his people.
How does God speak to me?
My God is big enough to speak to me in any of those ways, but he has has not used any of those methods. My God is big enough to speak to me in a way that is unique to me. Just as I am uniquely made, he chooses to speak to me in a way that is special to me.
That’s right—there is now a new Awana Website! You will still find the same great info, but this time around it will be much easier to find what you need. Be sure to check out the welcome video to learn more about the site redesign
Not long ago I was invited to Awana HQ for a behind the scenes look into the organization. I have always been a huge Awana supporter, since my daughter is involved in a local Awana Club. She love it! As a family, we have benefited greatly from the program. My Awana outlook has always been very positive, but I was very surprised and excited about what I learned over a few days watching and listening behind the scenes. Awana is undergoing a change. If you were not aware, Awana did in fact have a problem, but the good thing is they are working to fix that problem. What problem you ask? One word–communication.
I am personally learning that communication is the key to healthy relationships. Without communication, it is hard to learn, grow, and trust. One of the ways Awana is improving communication is through their newly re-designed website!
Easily found on the new Awana Website
Some things I have recently learned, and things that are easily found on the website are:
- Awana has a blog!
- Awana programs reach 2.3 million kids in over 100 countries EVERY WEEK!
- Awana provides lots of training material for parents and kids ministry leaders
If you are a parent, Awana leader, or just want to know more about the changes going on at Awana, check out their new website, and subscribe to their blog.
Have you seen the new Awana website? What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know!
Jon Acuff was a guest speaker at the Orange Conference in Atlanta. I have read many of his posts on stuffchristianslike.net, but I have never heard him speak before. In addition to being very funny, he was also very relevant. In this session, titled Reset, he walked through several stages/phases of what he called a Reset. A Reset is a moment of starting over, sometimes forced, sometimes by choice. No matter what the cause, he talked through some practical actions to take, no matter what stage we are in.
Keep in mind, these are just my notes. This is my interpretation of what was said, and what I felt was important to walk away with.
1. You won’t feel qualified
If you aren’t familiar with kids ministry pioneer brother Jim Wideman, you should be sure to check him out. What follows are my notes from one of Jim’s sessions from the Orange conference all about questions we need to ask ourselves as leaders for self or ministry evaluation.
We have to evaluate ourselves
Why are questions so Important:
- Questions make you think
A Stronghold is believing wrong information
- Questions make you evaluate
- Do when you are small what you will be forced to do when you are big
- There is a difference between doubt and questions
- Questions lead to change
It is awesome to be a guest at Awana HQ to get an inside scoop on the changes that are coming to Awana as they begin to make some changes that will help some problems within the organization, and will actually benefit all in kids ministry.
Peter Greer, founder of Hope International, is one of the key speakers here at the Awana14Launch, addressing the idea of Mission Drift.
A drift occurs when small changes are made over a long period of time. By the time some of these changes are realized, the drift has already occurred, and you are way off course. Mission Drift occurs when you make choices and decisions that lead away from the core values. These changes often seem small and insignificant, but over time these decisions have huge ramifications. The further off course you get, the harder it becomes to get back on course.
In ministry, we all know this too well. To avoid Mission Drift, it is important to identify your core value. Your core mission. The one thing that you will not veer from. That is the reason you exist. Nothing else matters. Everything you do needs to point back to that core mission. The message is sacred, but the method is not.
The Problem with Awana
I have the honor and privilege of being live at Awana Headquarters as they begin the process of addressing some big changes that are coming. I’m not sure what your Awana experience has been but I will tell you a little about mine.
As a children’s ministry leader I am aware of many different resources that are available, I have used and adapted material, reviewed samples of other materials. In my world, Awana existed as a midweek program focused on scripture memorization. While I have never run an Awana program myself, my daughter attends. And she loves it. Awana is hugely successful at their discipleship and focus on bible memorization, and I have seen that first hand. As I have sat and listened to many different Awana employees and leaders, the one thing I have heard over and over is how the organization exists to disciple children. And they do that well.
If you are familiar with Awana, this is exciting news. Even if you are not familiar with Awana, if you have anything to do with ministry to children, this is still very beneficial news. I have the honor to be behind the scenes at Awana Headquarters for a few days as they prepare to launch some big changes and some new goals within the global Awana community.
If a church has an Awana program, it generally will fall into one of three categories:
- Awana is a parachurch organization (Awana is a stand alone program that exists within the church—basically the program uses church space to run the program)
- Awana runs as a part of the larger children’s ministry
- Awana exists as the only form of children’s ministry.