Visiting Awana HQ for the Inside Scoop

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As a grown-up clubber, frequent blogger about Awana, and as the man who introduced Sport Stacking to Awana Game Time and a children’s pastor who has seen the impact of this ministry – I am always looking for opportunities to drop into the Awana HQ in Streamwood, Illinois. I’ve been hearing some exciting news coming out of Awana – and noticed their brand new website, so after speaking at camp for a week in Wisconsin, I headed down to Awana to sit down with Michael Scarbrough, who is the Director of Children’s Ministry at Awana to get the inside scoop on the relaunch of Awana going on right now! LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE! I also snagged me an official Awana sport coat (off a freebie table) so that I can sport it at the next Awana Conference. I think this coat gives back-stage access or at least snacks in the employee room. Forget GQ magazine, I think I could be on the cover of AHQ magazine! Got a great Awana story? Have questions about the club? Want to share some feedback for Awana leadership? Visit the podcast discussion forum and let’s talk Awana!  

Be God’s Man in God’s Place

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I’m at MBI right now for a children’s ministry conference being put on by the seniors in the Children’s Ministry Major program. A major not available when I was a student. They are doing an incredible job. It is such an honor to be here. As I walked around the campus yesterday posting pictures to Facebook of the campus changes, and what’s still the same – it brought back a lot of great memories. It was actually pretty significant that I was here on May 2nd. 24 years ago, on May 2nd, 1990 – I got to go out to take the President of Moody Bible Institute one on one. I had valet parked his car a few weeks earlier and left a note inside asking if I could treat him out to a meal. When he called my dorm room a few days later, my room mate answered, and shocked said, “It’s the Presdient!” I answered, “Bill Clinton?” And he said, “No, Joe Stowell!” We scheduled our meal, and I picked him up at the “Arch” in my little Chevy Chevete and took him to the Rock n’ Roll McDonald’s, where I was the ‘house magician’ – and where …

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The Day the King Unlocked the Gates (free eBook for kids)

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Found another hidden treasure! One of the most difficult things to explain to children (or adults for that matter) is the ‘problem of evil.’ It is a philosophical issue that troubles even the most inquiring minds, but doesn’t escape the simple minds of children either. What is ‘free will?’ Why did God give it to us? Why do so many people not believe in God, or even know about Him – if He is truly all knowing and all-powerful? And if He is so loving, why does He allow so much evil in this world? He must be either not all-powerful, not all-knowing, or not all-good for there to be so much in this world that isn’t good! All fair questions. I attempted to answer them years ago with a story I wrote called THE DAY THE KING UNLOCKED THE GATES. I’m no artist – but I even did the illustrations myself and reproduced this book for the kids at my church. I have only a paper master, so I’ve scanned it and created a eBook PDF for your enjoyment. I do hope you will read it to your kids and let me know what you think! It addresses free …

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That Which Shall Not Be Named, Obama and Feet

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What do “That Which Shall Not Be Mentioned in the House of the Lord,” Obama and Feet all have in common? They all were in my Kids Church lesson a few weeks ago. It was a fun lesson on being a servant using the story of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. Imagine the President of the Unites States coming over to your house and taking out the kitchen garbage? It included a fun shoe game, Gus complaining out chores, including having to clean up “that which shall not be mentioned in the House of the Lord” and some fun props that led to a bunch of fun feet puns when I posted the following picture on Facebook: (Read the Puns Here) It was a fun lesson, and you are welcome to use anything from it to teach on this topic. You can watch the entire lesson here. (The opening game is edited down so you can see the rules and a bit of the game play without having to watch the entire thing.)  

Balancing the Sacred vs. Silliness

In kids ministry we try to connect with kids in order to reach them – Kidology is a philosophy of ministry that strives to minister to kids from within the culture of kids. In order to interest, engage and even at times (dare I say it?) entertain kids, we will do the craziest things, won’t we? Dunk tanks! Drop eggs from helicopters! Pies in the face! All manner of craziness and silliness goes on in children’s ministries. And this is good! But there is also a danger. We can risk losing the sacred. We can risk being flippant with holiness. And at some point, all that FUN needs to decrescendo down to some sacred seriousness, or else it loses it’s purpose and was all for naught. Fun isn’t the goal, it is a means to a greater end. We aren’t in the business of giving kids a great time. We are in the business of making disciples. Consider: “Don’t be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don’t reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you’re only being cute and inviting sacrilege.” Matthew 7:6 MSG I’m not going to offer the answer …

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