Awana @ Home – Jelly Telly Edition

I received the copies of the newest Awana at Home Kit this week.

I gave it a quick once over and saw a similar format to the first Awana at Home Kit with the Adventures in Odyssey. The  lessons are in a magazine format with just one DVD with the Jelly Telly videos. I’ll get to that one shortly.

There is  DVD that introduces the Awana at Home program. I liked how it is set up to play automatically and then after the intro DVD, it asks if the child currently goes to Awana and then plays the appropriate video depending upon their answer. At the end of the video, it directs them to items on the Awana web site, resources and tools. That is a nice way to integrate things and have families find information easily.

The second DVD has the video lessons from Jelly Telly on them. If you are familiar with the “What’s In the Bible” DVD’s from Phil Vischer, then you will be very comfortable with these DVD’s. Even if you are not familiar with the “What’s In the Bible” DVD’s, you and you children will like the format. If you have not yet see the What’s In the Bible DVD’s, then be sure to wait before you select which group of lessons to go to from the main menu. If you have seen the What’s In the Bible DVD’s, then you can skip it, but it is always fun to watch.

I was very pleased with what I saw. In today’s society, these videos will help hold the attention of the children (and adults) while they learn Biblical truths. Good for families who have children who attend Awana, and for those who do not. All around, a good tool to use for a family faith night.

If you would like to purchase the Awana at Home Kit, you can find it here…
or to find our more about Awana at Home, click here….

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Memorization Tip

This past Sunday night at our club, there was a boy struggling with a few verses in the Start Zone. I was busy during their handbook time, but  I was able to break free to talk to him for a little bit to see if he needed help. He said he did want me to help him and so I looked at the section, Checkpoint 4. He said he knew why sin was a big problem and explained it to me, but didn’t know the verses, so I initiated the conversation about who has sinned and worked Romans 3:10 into a conversational style, saying that we could say that no one is righteous, not even one.

And then as we went on to the next verse in the section, the harder of the two, I tried to explain it in terms  he could understand. The verse, Psalm 130:3, “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?” I asked him if he liked sports. He said yes, basketball. And I referenced keeping a record of sins to the scorekeeper keeping a record of fouls. As they keep a record of fouls, you can’t stand, stay in the game, because you’ll foul out. Likewise, if God kept a record of sins, we couldn’t stand before Him without being cast away from Him.

By putting one verse in conversational terms, and the other, comparing it to something they can relate to personally, they were able to memorize the verses and complete the section.

It’s great to see when a child understands and they can relate Scripture to their life after being frustrated trying to learn.

It’s when we take the extra time to help them understand, that we see God do great things.

So when you’re able to, learn the verse in a conversational style, and relate it to something they can understand so the verse make sense to them and it isn’t just a bunch of words connected together.

Missions Monday – Bill Bianco

It’s Missionary Monday and today I am spotlighting Bill Bianco. I have served on Bill’s ministry team since he came to the Maryland area. It has been a pleasure serving along side of Bill and seeing his heart for ministry and reaching children/youth for Christ.

I asked Bill some questions and below are his answers:

What area do you serve?

National Capital Region consisting of Central and Southern Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington DC

 How long have you been an Awana Missionary? 6 Years

# of churches under your care:   213

Fun Facts: Favorite food, favorite sport, something interesting people don’t know about you, etc….

I enjoy eating, mainly comfort foods such as meat loaf, lasagna, mashed potatoes, ice cream and most pies.  I am an avid sports fan.  I love them all both to watch and play if I can.  I was a better than average softball player at one time and I actually have been on three slow-pitch softball All-star teams (one in Florida and two in different parts of Ohio).    I also served in the U.S. Navy for six years as a Nuclear Reactor Operator highlighted by serving on the USS Nimitz in 1980 during the Iranian Hostage Crisis.

Why are you an Awana Missionary?

I love being an Awana Missionary.  I can not think of anything else I would rather do.  I love it because it is where God has called me to serve.  He reminds me daily of His calling by His daily provision.  Serving God is a WOW thing when you know He wants you there.

Share something God is doing in your ministry

Since I became the Awana Missionary in the National Capital Region in 2004, my heart has been burdened by the number of Hispanic people in the area.  When we started there were no Spanish speaking churches that had Awana in our area.  Currently, with the help of Miguel and Lorena Montes, the Awana Hispanic Missionaries in the USA, we have now have five and just this month we held our first Hispanic Awana Missions Conference with a great attendance.  God is good.

How can we specifically pray for you over the next month?

We have a Commander College 101 on October 28-30 that we are hosting in North East Maryland as well as attending the North America Missionary Conference  for all Awana Missionaries in the USA in November in North Carolina.  Please pray that both events will draw those who attend closer to The Creator.

Ministry website:

Awana missionaries are 100% faith supported. They receive no commission on products sold, they rely solely on gifts and support from individuals and churches.

To find out more about Bill and to see how you can support him and his ministry in the National Capital Region, click here…

To learn more about Awana Missionaries and their roles, click here…

What if David & Goliath worked together?

We all probably know the story how a small, young David killed the large, powerful Goliath. We look at this from the competitive aspect of the story. The good guys vs the bad guys, which is how it was then, but let me throw a spin on this familiar story.

Let’s look at David as the “small/medium” church/club and Goliath as the “large/mega” church/club. Frequently they “battle” each other looking to increase their numbers and grow their ministries. Seldom may they work together. Though they have a common goal, they treat each other as competitors. The “Goliath” may look down upon “David” and wonder what is wrong with them, why aren’t they growing? Likewise, “David” may look up at “Goliath” enviously and wonder why they aren’t being blessed in the same way.

So what would happen if David and Goliath worked together? One reason that I like Awana so much is because it breaks down denominational, and other, barriers among believers/churches. I am in a “David” (small) church and I strongly believe in partnering with other churches in ministry to more effectively reach children for Christ. While you may think that requires us to partner with larger churches, that is not always the case. For a summer camp, we currently partner with three other larger churches in the area. We are the “small” church, yet equal, and working together to run a quality camp for kids. I am commited to the camp, no matter how many children our church may have attending. Over the last few years, this has proven to be a valuable partnership. There we joined with Goliath Churches, following their lead.

Other partnerships are with another smaller church for VBS and then this year, we partnered with a larger church and brought Awana to them. “David” is running the club for this “Goliath” (not mega, but larger than us) church!! Not that we’ve slayed them, but partnered with them to reach children and it has been a blessing to both churches.

Now, here is an irony that I love to share. I was a member of a large church (600 – 800 people). One year, the Worship pastor and a few others went to visit a mega church in the area to see how they ran a contemporary service, trying to prepare for the next level for the church. About the same time, I also went to this same church, not to learn, but to assist them in running their first Awana Grand Prix – which they still run today. Now, I really don’t know if the worship team talked to anyone there, or just went and experienced the service, but the point of this is that whether another church is bigger or smaller, we can (and should) work together for the Kingdom and learn from each other. We should not be in competition with each other – except Bible Quizzing and AwanaGames – but rather, working together as able. As we work together, I truly believe that God will do great things through those partnerships. I experience it frequently.

So what do you think? Have you worked with other churches to reach the community? If not, why not, and if you do, how have you done it and how has it worked?

How do you train your volunteers?

On Thursdays, my plan is to provide reviews of the various products that cross my desk that can be an asset to you in your ministry. This week, from various sources, the topic of the need to train volunteers has been highlighted. Because of this, I wanted to ask what you do to train your leadership?

Awana believes that training is important, in fact one of the five principles of Awana is that it is built on strong leadership, which comes from proper training. Maybe Awana should revise the fourth principle which reads, “Children and youth are trained to serve” and add “children, youth and adults”. But I digress…

Awana has developed several Training Materials for the various roles in Awana. They include a lot of helpful information to train you to be a better leader in your role in Awana. Even DVD’s that show you a “Day in the Life” of the various roles. In one of those DVD’s, the T&T director begins to call Commander Bill to give a report of the evening. When that first came out, someone mentioned that I had a cameo in the video and so I had to watch it and see. Now I really do not think that Awana had the T&T director call Commander Bill with me in mind, but it was flattering to hear that someone made that connection. FYI, you do not need to call me each week with a report from your club. Anyway, the DVD’s are a valuable resource.

Did you know that the videos used for Basic Training are now available for free as a download in the A.R.T. area of the Awana website?

If you are a commander, then I highly recommend that you attend Commander College 101. This advanced training will help you understand the many facets of being an Awana Commander and will inspire and encourage you as you serve in your local church. It also provides a great way to network with other commanders. I urge you to contact your local Awana missionary to find details about something special that is available this year for  Commander College 101.

Tony Kummer of wrote an article this past week entitled What Volunteers Learn When You Don’t Train Them. Read this article, and then review all of the quality materials and resources that Awana has to offer to help you train your Awana volunteers.

NOTE: One of your greatest training resources is your Awana Missioanry and their ministry team. I will be highlighting the first Awana missionary this Monday.


Scripture Memory – How important is it to you?

Today is Wednesday and later today, there will be thousands of adults admonishing children to memorize Scripture, but my question to you is, how important is Scripture memory to you? Are you using the “do as I say, not as I do” mindset or are the “I do it and you should to” mindset?

Children, and others, will follow better when they see what we do, more than just what we tell them to do.

Here’s an object lesson for you to illustrate that. Place signs in the large group room that say no frisbee playing in the room (or ball playing) and sign it with your name. As the children walk in, spin a frisbee on your finger, play catch with someone and just have some fun playing with the frisbee or the ball in the classroom. The children will quickly pick up on the fact that you are breaking the rule you made and call you out on it. You are not practicing what you preach, you are saying do as I say, not as I do. If the rule was important enough to post, then it should be important enough to follow. If Scripture memory is important enough to tell children they should do it, then we should be as well.

So, I ask again, how important is Scripture memory to you?

Tuesday Tip: Training – It’s Importance and Mistakes I’ve Made

Serving on the ministry team of Awana Missionaries and running, I am involved in several trainings, from Regional Basic Trainings, to individual church trainings, to conferences, to being a consultant to churches and individuals. So you would think that I’ve got it down and run the perfect club, right? Well, I wish that was the case, but it isn’t and that allows me to help illlustrate why training is so important.

As I’ve noted, our club has had quick growth which required us to gather additional volunteers to serve. I held training for the original base group, but as we’ve added a few others, it was “on the job” training and because I was focused on logistics and getting things moving, I did not have the proper time to train them well, and I do not have anyone in place to train them properly. One of the logistical things I need to work out.

So why is it so important to train people properly? In this case, it is recordkeeping and here are a couple of reasons why:

1) The child’s name. Sounds simple enough, but leaders are used to just putting the clubber’s first name on the forms we use. Well, as we exploded with clubbers, we now have two or more children with the same first name and so to just put the child’s first name makes keeping proper records difficult. I am currently training someone to handle the admin stuff and enter the data into the recordkeeping software we use and except for knowing where they are in their handbooks, there would otherwise be no way of knowing which clubber completed what for the night (except checking their handbooks which adds time to inputting data).

2) Recording acheivement. One of the new volunteers was briefly trained on what is required for a child to complete a section, but not how to record it so we would know what was completed. As we enetered records this past week, we noticed that some clubbers had apparantly skipped some sections only to find out (upon checking their handbooks) that the “new” leader had signed the books but had not recorded them on the forms we use for recordkeeping.

These are small training issues and I will be able to correct them quickly and easily, but left unchecked, can cause long term problems and confusion/frustration within the club causing it to be less effective for the Kingdom.

So provide proper training which will allow the club to run smoother and help retain volunteers.

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