For most kids, April and May are the final months to finish their Awana handbooks.
Is your child in need of a boost of encouragement? If so, here are a few ideas to motivate your child to complete this year’s handbook:
1. Set goals with them
Is your child in Sparks or T&T? Our Bookwalks for Sparks and Bookwalks for T&T are free resources that help you determine how many sections of your child’s handbook need to be completed per week through the end of the club year for her to finish her book.
Or ask your child’s Awana leader to assist you to figure out how many book sections your child needs to complete over the final weeks of the club year to reach this goal.
2. Work with them
Practice new Bible verses with your child each week. For instance, spend five or 10 minutes a night before bedtime going over verses. If you’re morning people, work on verses during breakfast or in the car. Try these Bible memorization tips.
And consider committing to learn the verses yourself. Make it a weekly competition between the two of you if your child is at an appropriate age. Who can finish more sections each week?
3. Reward them
Awana rewards handbook achievers with end-of-year awards. Many churches’ Awana ministries further reward kids with candy, prizes, Awana bucks or other external benefits.
But if you think your child needs an additional incentive, what would motivate him even further? Extra allowance? A gift? A special meal? A night out with Dad or Mom? This also communicates to your child that his Bible learning is important to you and to his spiritual growth.
4. Praise them
As they finish a section and move closer to completing their handbook, load on the encouragement. This will fuel most kids’ fire to press ahead. Encouragement is oxygen to the soul.
5. Prioritize their involvement
Learning God’s Word is essential to developing a strong walk with Christ. 2 Timothy 3:16 says Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. Treat your child’s Awana “homework” the same as you treat her schoolwork. Our kids will pick up on this and take their handbooks more seriously.
How do you motivate your kids to finish their Awana handbooks?
Posted in Awana, Discipleship, Parenting, Setting Goals | 2 Comments »
Encouraging words have great power. As Mark Twain wrote, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
This is also true of our children. Encouragement can inspire them to do what’s right, work hard and seek to grow in their walk with Christ.
Proverbs 12:18 says: Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
If reckless words can pierce, why is it easier to spend more time correcting and criticizing kids than encouraging them? We’re all guilty of this far too often.
If you’d like to increase your verbal encouragement of your kids, try one of the following phrases each day this month. Most of these phrases can apply to kids of a variety of ages and for a range of situations.
1. I believe in you.
2. Thanks so much for the way you handled that situation.
3. I really appreciate the way you did that.
4. I like spending time with you.
5. You did a great job putting your toys away.
6. You have a beautiful smile.
7. I’m so thankful God chose me to be your dad (or mom).
8. My life would be pretty boring without you.
9. That was a fabulous idea you came up with.
10. Way to go!
11. You showed a lot of courage in that situation.
12. Let’s work on it together.
13. I couldn’t have done it without you.
14. That’s awesome!
15. You did the right thing, even when no one was watching; that shows you’re a person of integrity.
16. I’m very proud of you.
17. Hey, thanks.
18. I’m sorry.
19. You’re a lot of fun to be with.
20. I can tell you’ve been working hard.
21. I just love spending time with you.
22. I appreciate the way you thought that through.
23. I’m so glad you are my child.
24. You really understand how to be a good friend to others.
25. Thanks for helping even when I don’t ask.
26. You are a true blessing to me.
27. You did a wonderful job.
28. I love your heart.
29. I’m so glad I get to be your parent.
30. You are so special.
31. I knew you could do it.
What phrases of encouragement did your dad or mom use with you?
Posted in Celebrating Family, Parenting | 2 Comments »
One of the most well-known Bible verses is John 3:16. You can probably recite it by heart:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (ESV)
Take time this month to share John 3:16 with your kids. Talk about the many ways God shows His love all around the world.
Here are a few ideas to get your conversation started:
1. Learn how to say “God loves you” in a different language. Find someone who speaks one of these languages and say it to them:
- Czech: Bůh tě miluje
- Dutch: God houdt van je
- Filipino: Diyos loves mo
- French: Dieu t’aime
- German: Gott liebt dich
- Maltese: Alla tkunu tistghu
- Portuguese: Deus ama você
- Russian: Бог любит вас (bog lyubit vas)
- Spanish: Dios te ama
- Swedish: Gud älskar dig
- Turkish: Tanrı sizi seviyor
- Welsh: Duw caru chi
2. Visit awanainternational.org to discover over 100 countries using Awana Clubs to reach kids with the gospel. You’ll find engaging videos and information on how your family or church can get involved.
3. February is Awana Missions Month. Your family can help change the ending for kids across the world who need Christ. Ask your Awana commander how your church’s Awana ministry can raise funds to support Awana overseas. The site offers a variety of fundraising ideas, promotional materials and games to involve kids all month.
4. Share God’s love as a family in a tangible way. Here are just a few ideas:
- Shovel snow for an elderly neighbor without receiving anything in return.
- Make cookies or crafts and distribute them to nursing home residents for Valentine’s Day.
- Invite non-churched friends to church with you.
- Call or connect via Skype or FaceTime with a grandparent or another relative your family rarely gets to visit.
5. Watch The Love of God video. Using beautiful images, the song describes the limitless love of God. Here are the lyrics:
The Love of God
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair, bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin
Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky
O love of God, how rich and pure
How measureless and strong
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song
May you and your kids never forget how much God loves you!
Posted in Discipleship, Love of God, Valentine's Day | 2 Comments »
Ever feel guilty about not praying enough for your children? You’re not alone.
Committing to praying for our kids requires discipline, intentionality and a willingness to engage with God on a regular basis. It’s easy amidst the busyness of daily life to let this slide down the priority list.
But, it’s a new year and a chance for new spiritual goals. Few goals are more important than immersing your kids in prayer.
How can you improve your prayer time for your kids? Here are six suggestions:
1. Ask your kids how you can pray for them
If your children are older (depends on the child’s maturity level, but typically early elementary or older), consider asking them once a week for prayer requests. The younger they are, the more assistance they may need. Taking prayer requests from your children also makes you accountable to actually pray for them!
2. Quality over quantity
The Bible says we should pray without ceasing — not just for our children but in our regular communication with God. But Scripture doesn’t say a strong prayer life is measured by quantity of time. It’s more about us conforming to God’s will and praying with faith and fervency. As James 5:16 says, The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
3. Keep prayers short and sweet
Brief intercession throughout your day may work well with your schedule and your attention span. Instead of praying for one longer time frame, sprinkle requests here and there across the day.
4. Use model prayers
Do you get in ruts when praying for your kids? It’s a challenge to keep our prayers fresh. They may sound the same and cover the same topics without outside help.
Try these two free email prayer services:
Real World Parents sends suggested prayers for each day.
When Mama Hen Prays provides scripted prayers based on specific Scripture verses. Using God’s very words as the basis of our prayers is powerful.
5. Prompt yourself to pray
A former colleague at Awana used his work computer’s electronic calendar to prompt him to prayer at set times of the day. If he wanted to pray for his children at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., he’d set “meetings” on his work calendar to remind him to pray. As a reminder popped up on his monitor, he’d take a minute to lift his kids’ needs to God.
If you own a mobile device, you could practice the same prayer strategy. Or maybe you and your spouse can text message each other at set times of the day as a reminder to take a minute or two and pray for one of your kids. It provides accountability and helpful notices that keep you on track.
6. Pray for and with your child
At bedtime, pray not only with your children but for them. This serves three purposes:
- You’re faithfully praying for her needs.
- She hears you modeling prayer.
- She gets encouraged knowing her mom and dad love her so much that they talk to God on her behalf.
- Your bond grows stronger as she hears her parents taking time to pray for her.
What do you do to pray throughout the day for your kids? Please share a comment.
Posted in Discipleship, Family Time, Prayer | 1 Comment »
With Christmas quickly approaching, you’re busy making lists and shopping for gifts. Hopefully, you’re also thinking of meaningful ways your family can serve others and share God’s love in real, hands-on experiences.
Not only does serving as a family develop deeper bonds, it also provides powerful spiritual teaching moments. As 1 John 3:18 says, Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
Serving gives your family a chance to put faith into action. It’s a time to show your kids how to practically express the love of Christ to those in need.
Author and blogger Susan Mathis writes about sharing the fruit of the Holy Spirit that God has instilled in each Christian:
- Showing love to the unlovely
- Passing on God’s joy to the brokenhearted
- Imparting peace to those in turmoil
- Modeling patience in frustrating situations
- Demonstrating kindness to everyone you meet
- Revealing God’s goodness in thought and deed
- Walking in faithfulness every day
- Living with gentleness and self-control in every situation, even when we have to confront wrongdoing or hurt.
Don’t let the holidays pass by without serving together as a family. Perhaps these ideas can help you improve your family’s serve:
- Visit a nursing home and share the message of Christmas with the elderly.
- Stock a food pantry in your community.
- If possible, help distribute meals as a family.
- Adopt a needy child or family through your community or church outreach ministry. Provide for any physical needs they have as best you can. Pray for their salvation and spiritual growth throughout the year.
- Shovel snow from a neighbor’s driveway. Make sure your kids don’t expect payment.
- Bake cookies for a neighbor. Extend kindness to someone who might be struggling or experiencing a difficult holiday season.
- Volunteer as a family at church. Help during the Christmas services and support the pastor and staff in reaching out to any visiting families.
- Participate in church or community collections. Partner with your church or community during any food or clothing drives. Offer to sort donations or help distribute items to those in need.
How will your family serve others during the holidays?
Posted in Celebrating Family, Christmas, Serving | 5 Comments »
At Thanksgiving and throughout the year, create a museum of memories in your child’s life
We all have family traditions. For some, it’s the little things like pancakes every Saturday morning or playing a game on Friday nights that deepen family bonds. Other traditions, like the annual family reunion or a special trip for a 16th birthday, also build lifelong memories.
Traditions define the identity of a family and offer a sense of belonging to each member.
Dennis Rainey, president and CEO of Family Life, says: “Make an effort to establish some significant practices that you repeat year after year. Those repetitive events build stability and a sense of continuity in your child’s life. Vacations, stories and traditions will come together to form a museum of memories in your child’s life that will serve as a solid foundation for him as he begins his own family.”
Start by creating family traditions during the Thanksgiving season. Here are a few ideas to consider.
Start a family gratitude journal. Encourage each family member to record one thing each day they’re grateful to God for in their life. Use this journal template for November to get you started.
Decorate a Thanksgiving tablecloth. Buy a fabric or plastic tablecloth and use it on Thanksgiving Day. Set out fabric markers. Ask family and friends to write or draw something they are thankful for this year. Bring out the tablecloth each year at Thanksgiving time so family members can keep adding to it.
Read the story of the 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-19. Ask your children how they would have reacted if Jesus had healed them.
Pray at meal time and thank God for His provisions. Ask a different family member to pray each meal so everyone feels comfortable praying aloud.
Memorize a Bible verse about thankfulness. Try Psalm 105:1, Psalm 107:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Colossians 2:6-7 or James 1:17.
Read a children’s book by Awana President/CEO Jack Eggar, Sparky Shines His Light. The book teaches kids the importance of gratitude.
Here are a few ideas to extend family traditions throughout the year:
Start a celebration plate tradition. Celebrate the small and big accomplishments of a family member at mealtime by using a special plate. Choose someone to use the plate at the next meal to make that person feel loved and valued.
Plan family vacations each year. Visit new places or return to your family’s favorite spot. Some families plan “staycations” and do fun things around their area.
Celebrate holidays and birthdays with favorite foods and extended family members. Learn about family traditions from the older generation and record stories in a journal or on video.
Keep Christ at the center of all your family’s traditions. Model His love and grace in all you do.
Involve your kids. It will be much more fun to participate in something they have helped plan.
A new tradition to start in my family is _________________________.
Have fun creating traditions with your family. Realize that some traditions may fade out, like carving pumpkins in the fall, as children grow up. Build memories that bind your family together this holiday season.
What is one of your family’s favorite traditions?
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
Family faith night is not just another activity to add to an already crammed family schedule. It’s a special time when you and your kids study Scripture, grow spiritually and have lots of fun together.
If your family has never held a spiritually focused family night, keep your initial gatherings short. Just 10 minutes might do the trick. This could be as simple as reading a story from your toddler’s Bible and then praying for 30 seconds for Grandma. Or, with older kids, choose a Bible verse or short passage to read and discuss. Share prayer requests with each other and pray together.
Here are nine ways family faith night benefits kids — and parents:
1. Gives you a powerful tool for passing your faith to your children and teens. You’re fulfilling Psalm 78:4 — We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, His power, and the wonders He has done.
2. Provides a regular platform for you to answer your kids’ spiritual questions. Once family faith night becomes a tradition, your children will feel safe asking questions they have about God, the Bible, evil, heaven and problems they face daily.
3. Teaches your kids that the Bible is the trustworthy truth source for your life and theirs. As they see you turning to Scripture and relying on its wisdom, they’ll learn that they can base their lives on its promises and commands, too.
4. Teaches your children how to study God’s Word. By studying Scripture with you, they learn through the years how to figure out what verses and passages mean. It’s like having a personal Bible tutor.
5. Shows your kids how to apply God’s Word to their lives. They learn this not only during your family night studies but also by your example as you apply verses you’ve read together to your own life. Remember: Your kids are watching your every move.
6. Sends the message that your children are vitally important to you. Most kids receive love through the gift of time. By carving out time in your schedule each week or each day for a family night, you’re sending them the message that you love and value them.
7. Opens communication channels between you and your children. Regular family nights connect you with your children. The result? Your kids will open up to you more willingly. Why? Because they know and trust you.
8. Gives opportunities to teach your children the key spiritual disciplines for a meaningful relationship with God. You can incorporate a variety of practices into your family faith nights: taking prayer requests, praying for each other and for others, singing praise songs together, working with them on their Awana handbooks, inviting other Christian families to join you for fellowship and even serving others in your church and community — such as baking cookies for a shut-in or taking a couple of hours to rake leaves for an elderly neighbor.
9. Grows you closer as a family. And, if you have more than one child, they grow closer together, too. Family night acts like super glue. Besides Scripture, other creative ideas might include playing games together, making up skits or acting out Bible stories. You spend time learning, growing, laughing, praying and playing together. It becomes a cherished part of your week — and your life.
Posted in Celebrating Family, Discipleship, Family Devotions, Family Time, Parenting | 8 Comments »
Fall kicks off a variety of family activities. One constant on many family calendars is Awana. From preschool to high school, children and youth meet in local churches around the world. In Awana they learn God’s Word, participate in exciting games and make new friends.
Awana runs in most churches during the school year calendar, but the important values Awana imparts last all year and beyond. Here are just a few:
Value #1: Hiding God’s Word in Young Hearts
Learning Bible truth is an important part of Awana. By the time a child has graduated from high school and finished 10 years of Awana handbooks, he will have memorized 760 Bible verses! Such memory work requires discipline and effort.
But memorizing pays off. Kids develop a biblical foundation for their faith in Christ that sustains them far into adulthood. Children who learn to memorize verses have an easier time memorizing at school. Multiplication tables and state capitals are easier to learn when a child’s brain has been accustomed to memorization. And the very habit of working through a handbook builds the discipline to tackle other projects and see them through.
Value #2: Teamwork
Awana provides a sense of belonging for children. The uniforms worn each week help kids feel part of the group. Each child is a member of a team that competes weekly during Game Time. They learn to encourage each other and work together as a team to win games and to win fun weekly competitions between the ministry’s red, blue, green and yellow teams. As a result, your child learns to be a team player and interact better with others.
Value #3: Confidence
Memorizing verses is hard work. Ask any kid in Awana. But also ask those who have finished a handbook to show you their award, and you’ll see a proud smile. Reaching goals and earning awards teach children they can achieve whatever they set their mind to do. They’ll receive ribbons, plaques and trophies, signifying the importance of their accomplishment.
Value #4: The Bible: a Guide for Everyday Life
In the culture around us, we clearly see a lack of direction in many kids when it comes to spiritual matters. Awana trains children to use the Bible to develop a biblical perspective, morals and strong character.
Kids are taught biblical principles such as helping others, obeying authority and choosing friends wisely. They learn about God and how much He has blessed them because of His great love. As a child grows older and begins to encounter difficult moral dilemmas, he has a compass to guide him in making good decisions.
5. Value #5: Fun!
One of kids’ favorite parts of Awana is fun! Your kids may come home wanting to decorate socks with buttons and paint for Silly Socks Night. They’ll don clothes they wouldn’t dream of wearing in public to win a prize for Tacky Night. Or they may laugh in the car on the way home over the leader who got soaked from water balloons during Game Time.
Awana is good for kids
When your daughter asks you to take her back to Awana next week, you don’t have to hesitate. Sending your kids to Awana is good for them, and they’ll have fun at the same time.
If you’d like to learn more about Awana or see any of our programs in action, take this interactive tour.
Posted in Awana, Church, Discipleship | 1 Comment »
Buying school supplies marks the end of summer and the start of a new school year. Have you ever thought of the supplies on your child’s list as spiritual teaching objects for the upcoming academic year?
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)
- Pencil in church and Awana on your family’s weekly calendar. Use the Awana locator to find an Awana ministry in your area. Programs for kids and youth ages 2 to 18 are offered in churches in all 50 states and many international countries.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
- Encourage your child to shine God’s love to others in the hallways, during recess, in the classroom and at lunch.
- Teach your children how to share their faith. Download the free Awana Gospel App to your smartphone or tablet device.
- Reach out to non-churched families in your neighborhood and school. Invite them to Awana or a church service.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1Thessalonians 5:11)
Your kids take a lot of notes during the school year. Surprise them with some notes from you!
- Encourage your son or daughter with a few of these 44 phrases.
- Tuck a note in your child’s lunch box or put one on his pillow before bedtime.
- Write an encouraging Bible verse on a piece of paper for your child to read at breakfast or on the bus.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)
- Prayer is like glue. It helps you stick to Christ in good times and bad.
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
Bind your family together over meals and family nights:
- Family nights encourage spiritual growth in each family member and build lifelong memories.
Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. (Psalm 127:1)
The school supply that holds it all together is a stapler. Jesus Christ is like a stapler that can hold your family together even as you face problems and challenges during the school year. Keep Him at the head of your household!
May God bless your 2012-2013 school year and supply all your needs!
Posted in Awana, Discipleship, School | No Comments »
Don’t you just love summer? Lemonade, hammocks, beaches, ice cream, pool days, fireflies – you name it!
For many families, summer also means vacation. Hitting the road and exploring new areas creates memories and deepens family bonds. Family outings closer to home can be just as fun and meaningful.
So whether you’re crossing the country or staying local, here are a few family ideas that also include spiritual teaching moments. Grow closer to each other—and to God—as you reach your vacation destination.
Visit a zoo: Explore God’s immense creativity at a city zoo. Talk about Noah and his faith to follow God. Ask your kids what it would have been like to have all those animals on the ark. Have each family member find a favorite animal and explain why it’s a favorite.
Hit the beach: Enjoy the beauty of a nearby lake or ocean. Use sand as your teaching object. Read Matthew 7:24-27 about the wise and foolish builders while building sandcastles. Explain why it’s important to build faith on the solid rock of God’s Word.
Find a farm: Visit the animals at a farm. The Bible refers numerous times to sheep, like the lost sheep in Luke 15, so find some sheep! In another powerful farm metaphor in Matthew 13, Jesus talks about the parable of the sower. If you have tweens or teens, this is a great passage to discuss as a family.
If a farm with animals isn’t nearby, perhaps there’s a place to go berry picking. Picking berries off a vine makes it easy to talk about John 15 and the importance of staying connected to the Vine (Jesus). Challenge your kids to bear fruit that will last (John 15:8).
Backyard fun: Plant a garden. Discuss the parable of the mustard seed in Mark 4:30-32. Find a caterpillar or a butterfly. Connect these bugs with 2 Corinthians 5:17. Talk about what it means to be a new creation in Christ.
At night, gaze at the stars. Ask your kids how they can shine for Jesus at school and in the neighborhood. Sing “This Little Light of Mine.”
Make memories: Enjoy each moment this summer with your family. Get outside and praise God for the beauty all around you. Soak it in and make this summer memorable!
What is your family doing this summer to strengthen your kids spiritually?
Posted in Celebrating Family, Family Fun, Family Time, Summer, Vacations | 1 Comment »