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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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.


Rock Solid Volunteers

Purchase Rock Solid Volunteers Today Rock-Solid Volunteers: Keep Your Ministry Team Engaged

Larry Fowler, author of Rock-Solid KIDS, has written a companion book on volunteers and how to keep your ministry team engaged. Over the summer, Larry solicited answers to questions from FaceBook users to compliment his research. Based upon Nehemiah, I am sure you will find this book a great resource to help you with your volunteer ministry team.

From Amazon:

Larry Fowler, Director of Program and Training for Awana Clubs International, believes that there are seven biblical principles, drawn from the book of Nehemiah, that will help pastors and leaders more effectively motivate and manage volunteers. Rock-Solid Volunteers looks at the obstacles Nehemiah and his volunteer workers faced – fatigue, weakness, loss of vision, peer pressure and opposition, just for starters!—and examines the seven steps Nehemiah took to lead his volunteers to success. Pastors and ministry leaders will be equipped to attract, inspire and keep talented, committed volunteers, no matter the challenge!

Available form Awana soon!

Awana Simulcast – My Thoughts

From the beginning, when Cindy Craig opened the Simulcast Conference, you felt and knew that you were a part of something big. While Cindy seemed out of place and kind of stiff in the beginning, she did appear more at ease as the day progressed. But then what do you expect? It’s not like she is in front of the cameras for a simulcast everyday. Cindy was a good host.

The emcee was an interesting selection. It was Dennis Lee, a ventriloquist with several “assistants”. Personally, I am not a big ventriloquism fan. He did a good job and the dialog between himself and his puppet/dummy was used well to set up the next portion of the conference. So the conversational aspect was good, but again, personal preference, I am not a ventriloquism fan. I am sure that others really enjoyed it and felt it enhanced the conference.

A simulcast can be fairly impersonal as the “live” component is in another city. I felt that Awana did a good job of trying to make it interactive by using Twitter and FaceBook to try to get interaction. Several people participated in that portion of the conference. I tweeted throughout the simulcast as did AwanaHQ and a few others. I even commented on the shirts being worn by Larry Fowler, Shawn Thorton and Art Rorheim seeking thoughts and I was pleasantly surprised to have Shawn Thorton respond to that tweet. That was the first time I had a conversation with Shawn.

The general sessions and workshops were quality and had good information (my rough notes have already been posted). The final session really showed the impact Awana is having worldwide and hearing from Art Rorheim about the beginning of Awana and why he believed God has continually blessed Awana were eye opening and a great way to share for the many who did not know the “bigger picture” of Awana.

Depending upon the location you were at, you may have had different experiences, but overall, it was a very good day for the very first simulcast that Awana has held for a conference.

Many do not know the challenges that Awana faced and had to overcome over the last month or so to make sure the simulcast happened. With all of that pressure, Awana produced a premiere event. If you were unable to attend, you really missed a historic moment and a great day.

Well done Awana!

The Crossmaker – Review

I recently received a copy of The Crossmaker from See the Light Ministry. I have known about the ministry, but only a real little bit. I am always looking for various things for large group time messages for Awana, and even though I am not a real proponent of using videos exclusively during council time, this is one I would highly recommend.

The length of the video is approximately 15 minutes which allows time for interaction and follow up. The premise is a young boy who helps make and deliver the crosses used during Jesus’ day and then shows the crucifixion and God’s forgiveness through the boys eyes.  Though the perspective is extra-biblical (the cross maker is not in the Bible), it shares the story of the crucifixion accurately (using Biblical accounts) in a way that is captivating to children. This is an excellent tool to use for your Awana club or for any other children’s ministry.

The DVD also gives you a peak into the ministry which is amazing. I am in awe of people who can draw with chalk like they do and then the images that are revealed when we “See the Light”.  It is a must see and a great way to share the Gospel of Jesus.

To see a preview of The Crossmaker, or to purchase a copy for yourself, simply go to their  Web Site. (I do not receive any compensation for purchases you may make at their web site)

Disclosure of material connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Review

I have to admit, I had not heard of the books (even though the first one came out in 2007) and my first introduction was the promo for the movie, and then a discussion on the Kidology Forum. Because the discussion was about whether it could be used in ministry, I decided to watch it and come to my own conclusion.

The theater was quite full with children and their parents and so I was pleased to see families together and not children just being dropped off.

I need to let you know that I am not a big movie guy and I went in with an objective, not seeking entertainment.

The movie is in a middle school, as the main character is learning his way around in this new environment and trying to gain popularity. One needs to keep that in mind as you watch the movie.

Overall, I found the movie entertaining. It is childish humor and the movie did garner several chuckles, even from me. Some people may think that some of the scenes are gross, as they deal with nose-picking and things of that nature. Again, keep in mind, it is “middle school” and younger humor.

Some may find some of the discussions inappropriate, but it is what you would find in a middle school setting. There is no outright profanity, just the “modified” like “geez, “crap”, etc.

The main character, Greg Heffley, is a middle child entering middle school. His older brother has several “issues” of his own and does not offer Greg much good wisdom about middle school and often threatens to kill Greg. His brother has a “girly” magazine under his bed which shows a bikini clad female on a motorcycle. The magazine is called “Moto Mamas”. It brings the point across without exposing much, and the confrontation with the mom near the end  of the film re-enforces that there is more “negative” content in the magazine than the cover, though nothing is seen.

Greg is trying to fit in and be at the “top of the food chain” in middle school and so he does what he believes will get him there, but at every turn, it drops him further and further down the list. Whereas his friend Rawley begins to gain popularity.

See, where Greg is trying things to be popular, Rawley is just being himself and is also somewhat “abused” by Greg. Rawley’s parents think that Greg is a bad influence.

At one point, Rawley references someone’s comment about how they should respect their parents and follow their dreams, where Greg says “they must get beat up a lot” indicating that obeying parents is not a good thing to do.

Greg also mentions that the yearbook is like a bible as he tries to find ways to become popular.

Through the movie, Greg holds on to his friendship with Rawley even though he feels it is hurting him and does nothing to encourage Rawley. Greg does something that gets Rawley in serious trouble and after awhile, Greg confesses to Rawley which ends their friendship.

Greg did vaguely explain his predicament to his mother who gave him the following advice, “It’s our choices that make us who we are”.

Throughout the movie, we see Greg’s bad choices leading him in a downward spiral, whereas Rawley’s good choices and respect of authority, even when being disciplined for something he didn’t do, gets rewarded.

As I watched the film, the verse that came to me early on as I watched Greg trying to be popular and it failing was Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death”. Greg kept doing what he thought was right, but it kept leading to destruction. He was focused on himself, and not until he learned to make a sacrifice for Rawley did things turn around for him.

Near the end of the movie, one young lady makes the point that all of the things they think are important in middle school right now won’t mean anything in a few years.

So, what would I tell a parent who asked me about the movie? I would let them know that I would take my child to see the film with the following “disclaimers”. It is in a middle school setting and so some of the humor and discussions are “juvenile” but what one might see in middle school. There is also a Mother-Son dance where Rawley and his mom dance somewhat suggestively. I personally felt that the dance was inappropriate and not needed for the movie. Greg’s father is also portrayed to be less than competent, a growing trend in secular media. I would also encourage the parent to talk to their child and direct the scenarios in the movie toward the things of God.

  • Our choices do shape who we are. The greatest choice we can make is to believe that Jesus died for our sins and to follow Him. Bad choices have negative consequences which may not occur right away, but will come.
  • We should follow the path that God has for us and not try to do things on our own for popularity, for revenge, or because of peer pressure.
  • We need to learn to serve others cheerfully. Greg did not have to take the blame for what Rawley did late in the film, but he “sacrificed” himself to regain a friendship. We could relate that to Jesus sacrificing Himself to have fellowship with us again. Just as Rawley accepted the sacrifice, we must accept that Jesus sacrificed Himself for us to regain that fellowship.

I would not show the film in a church setting, or take a group of children to see it in a theater, but I would feel comfortable talking to them about the film and directing them to Godly things.

It reminded me a little of the film To Save a Life which is set in a high school setting. The difference, To Save a Life was written by a youth pastor and has a powerful Christian message, whereas The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a secular film, but I believe it can be used to teach children about the things of God as it relates to them in their lives and I believe that everyone can relate to the characters, personally or knowing someone like them, which makes it more “real life” that can help make the connection.

It can be a good discussion starter for what they are going through in school, friendships and making good choices. Though the movie is not Christian in nature, it can be used to direct people toward God by relating real life and how God is needed in our life as we make choices.

Click Here to See’s review…

Looking for reviews of Christian Fiction Books for teens? Click Here!

Awana Club Clinic, On-Line Training

So I was wandering around the Awana web site yesterday. As I entered the Resources & Tools (A.R.T.) area I was amazed to see something new called the Awana Club Clinic. Here is what the site says about the Club Clinic:

“Does your club need a boost? A fresh infusion of energy? A new way of thinking? Club Clinic is designed to strengthen the health of your Awana club. And we all know that every club can grow in its health and effectiveness!

At Club Clinic you will find short, interactive training to address common club challenges – all online! Whether you are a pastor, commander, director, leader, secretary or game director, visit often and explore new topics as they are added to Club Clinic every several weeks! A regular dose of VitaPaks will reinforce great principles and provide fresh ideas for your club!”

Currently there is just one module on the 5-Count, but it is a great start and I am looking forward to seeing the additional modules to be added. Now you can provide training for your leadership from the comfort of their home!

To see the Awana Club Clinic, click here, you will need to be registered for the A.R.T. area of the Awana web site.

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