My daughter enjoyed Cubbies for her three-year-old year at our then-church, and we missed it a lot when we were at a church using a different program last year. So when we moved this year we made sure to find a church that had a Sparks club for her to join (now that she’s five).
We have been diligent about working on her lesson each week, and she memorizes her verses incredibly well (if I do say so myself!).
Last Sunday she came home from club very excited, because she had “earned” her wings and her first (red) jewel. I was puzzled, since I knew that was still a few lessons away from where we were working.
My husband, grim faced, explained more to me later (I am home with our youngest while he takes the “big kids” to church Sunday nights).
It seems that my daughter was pushed though “memorizing” and parroting back THREE verses during class time to earn that jewel, so that she could be more “caught up” with other kids (who have already been doing this)… Many already have several jewels, and a several kids were recognized at awards time for having finished their book already!!
Let’s be clear: It was nine weeks into the AWANA year, and Jewel had worked on and memorized lesson nine. They had her also “do” lessons ten, eleven, and twelve.
I was heartbroken.
I enjoy the AWANA curriculum. We like working through one lesson each week, dwelling in the Word and learning a verse. And I would assume the AWANA teachers would also be reinforcing that lesson in class.
Obviously, when you’re racing to earn your awards and finish your book, you are not actually hiding the word in your heart. Jewel can tell me the verse from lesson nine, but has no idea what those from lessons ten, eleven and twelve were.
This is not discipleship for our children, this is some kid of worldly achievement competition!
Sadly, it seems to be the whole AWANA program at this church, as the club leadership was involved in saluting the kids who had already finished books, and holding them up as examples.
I didn’t stop to think that I needed to “church shop” for an AWANA program. Silly me, I assumed that with such a structured curriculum, the experience would be pretty similar from place to place.
And what now? If the AWANA program was a big part of the reason we are at this church, and now I need to be taking Jewel to a program somewhere else…