Tonight we kick off something new in our elementary Wednesday night world. We have done Awana for many, many years and I still believe it is a great ministry. For this season, though, we don’t feel it is the best fit for us.
It started as a budget conversation. We have always tried to absorb most of the cost into budget so that we didn’t put another burden on our families. As the church grew, that became a lot of money. We also began to notice over the past couple of years that all of that “stuff” we were spending money on wasn’t very important to our kids. Uniforms and patches and jewels were no longer great motivators and handbooks were lost at crazy rates. Again, I am not saying these things don’t work anywhere ever. Just in our culture, after so many years, they seemed to have lost their appeal.
As we began talking with some of our leadership, a larger concern arose. There was a feeling that with our kids in our culture, finishing Awana books had become the ultimate end in itself. Kids were not retaining Scripture, they were not understanding it. They were just trying to get done.
So, we brainstormed and created WILD.
First, the name means nothing. I’m terrible at names and no one had any ideas we liked. This summer, VBS focused on how “God is wild about us” so this year we will focus on how we are wild about God. Not the greatest, but it works.
We will still focus on scripture memory and our night will be structured similar to an Awana structure with three rotations. However, we will be much more focused. Every kid will be learning the same verse. Each week they have one verse and one question and answer (very catechism-like) to learn. Our large group (used to be Awana council time) will teach on that verse using object lessons and other creative means. Kids will go to small groups where their purposes are: 1)help anyone who hasn’t memorized ahead of time learn the verse 2) Discuss what the verse means by answering four worldview type questions (What does this verse tell us about God? What does this verse tell us about people? What does this verse tell us about what we should do? What does this verse tell us about eternal life?) 3) Define and discuss hard or churchy words in the verse and 4) review old verses.
The final rotation is our adaptation of game time. Instead of run around games, we are doing large, high-energy review games in our worship area. Kids will compete in games that focus on: reviewing the memorized verse of the night and previous verses, the hard words that we are defining, and Books of the Bible.
The other neat thing that we are able to do is tie in what we are learning on Sundays to Wednesdays. I’ve blogged before about how we work through the same Bible story/concepts for a month on Sunday mornings. The verses kids memorize on Wednesday nights will correlate with the Sunday morning focus. For example, in September kids will be learning about Adam and Eve and the fall on Sundays. On Wednesday nights our verses and questions/answers will focus on sin.
Our purpose is for kids to really hide God’s word in their hearts, understand what it means, and understand what it teaches us about who God is, who we are, and what He wants us to do. We kick-off tonight!
What are you doing on Wednesday nights this fall?