wordpress stats plugin

How AWANA and Children’s Songs Are Misleading Our Children

He squatted and jumped and waved his arms as he tried to remember the words to the song.

“I’m in-right outright upright downright …” he paused, confused.

I recognized it immediately. “Happy all the time,” I sang, and he joined me, grinning. Then he dashed away, leaving me to finish the song in my head.

Since Jesus took me in and cleansed my heart from sin, I’m in-right outright upright downright happy all the time.


TNT Ultimate Challenge Handbook from AWANAMy husband and I cracked up as we drove toward the church, listening to our son’s impression of an old man. His voice was a hilarious blend of hoarse and country twang as he read a story from his AWANA book to his brother and sister. But then he read this:

Kid: “Have you ever dug up an one of those ruins?”

Gramps: “No, but I think taking part in an archaeological dig would be exciting. Remember what I said about the Bible not being a science book?”

Kid: “But every time the Bible talk about science, it is exactly right.”

Gramps: “Good, you listened. Well, the Bible is not a history book either. But again, every time the Bible talks about history, the Bible is exactly right. Archaeological discoveries show us that.”

Kid: “Then why doesn’t everyone believe the Bible?”

Gramps: “Some people just choose not to believe it, Arthur.” (emphasis mine)

Scott and I looked at each other.


The kids tucked in bed, I curled up on the couch with the book. As I flipped pages and skimmed the lessons, my stomach tightened and my chest clenched.

“Scott, listen to this.” I turned to him, sitting on the other end of the couch.

“This is a lesson on how we know the Bible is true.

“’Every word of God is pure. That means God’s Word is not even one tiny little bit wrong. Everything He says is absolutely right and true. God never, ever, ever makes a mistake. The Bible (every single verse) is God’s Word. Therefore, the Bible is true.’”

I stopped reading for a moment. “That’s a huge sweeping generalization to make.”

“And a few pages over, it says this: ‘The Bible is historically correct. Historically correct doesn’t mean the Bible is a history book. Historically correct means that when the Bible does talk about history, it is ALWAYS exactly right.’” I stopped to get my breathing under control. “I have a big problem with this.”

I tried to quell the panic rising in my chest. “It’s one thing to say that the Bible is true. It’s quite another to say that it is ALWAYS exactly right. Scott, I don’t know if I can keep our kids in AWANA.”


I used to hear that “Happy All the Time” song constantly. It was on a children’s music CD we played for Elli. I must have been too exhausted or distracted before, because I don’t remember being appalled before.

Jesus makes me happy all the time? Who wrote this? In what alternate universe did they live? How insidious and disgusting to fashion this lie into a catchy action-packed children’s song?

To have that happen on the same day I discovered how AWANA seeks to indoctrinate children with fables about the historic and scientific perfection of the Bible was almost too much. I wrote a series on the fiasco of the teaching on the inerrancy of Scripture a year ago. Discovering that these promises, that Jesus makes us happy all the time and that everything in the Bible is always exactly right, are empty and false nearly destroyed my faith. I cannot allow these ideas to infect and destroy my children.

Why does parenting feel so much like undoing what others have done, un-teaching what others have taught? And why is most of this undoing and unteaching work brought on by churches? What ever happened to being honest about the Christian life and about ancient texts? Are we really that terrified of the Truth?

Sign up to receive new posts in your email.

I generally post 1-2 times per week. You will only receive an email from me if I have posted something new. I hate spam and promise never to send it to you.


  1. While it has been quite few years since I’ve been in AWANA, I can’t imagine allowing my kids to participate in it. Jesus makes us happy ALL the time? Uh, no, even Jesus wasn’t happy all the time…he wept, he got angry, etc.

  2. As a children’s worker for very many years I am so glad you raise this issue. I am so sick of dealing with kids who have got the wrong end of what the Christian faith is all about due to ridiculous songs like these. Spot on Sarah, Jesus had other emotions to being happy all the time, just the way God created us to be.

  3. We had an interesting conversation last night too. Not about Awana specifically, but…well here’s how it went… my 9 year old sons says something to the effect of..”when God blows up the whole earth” Not even sure where he got that from since we haven’t put him in a SS class in about 4 years! So something said when he was 5 years old stuck ..just..like..that. And so it’s understandable why some children can’t fall asleep at night. and these kinds of things are inserted into homeschool curriculum too.

    The Christian teachings have morphed into mythological fairy tales and Christians wonder why people aren’t listening to many preachers anymore? Where’s the practical approach to being a Christian? We’ve had to sort through and unteach all sorts of weird ideas.

    We’ve been a trek of discovering what true organic expression of faith in Christ really looks like…and we still get opposition from those who have chosen to believe the hodgepodge soup mix of ‘bible teaching’.

    and as Sarah said, Jesus did weep, he was angry, he was sarcastic a bit at times too. and by golly I’m not ‘happy all the time’ either. Especially not when so called Christian books are teaching children lies.

  4. A lot of what we teach children in churches is simplistic, really. I think that’s why The Jesus Storybook Bible resonated so deeply with so many – because it doesn’t shirk the hard stuff, it dives deep and invites our kids into something bigger.

    My coming to faith involved peeling away almost all of what I had been taught during my decades of going to church. (And being a PK, I went to church a lot.) Not all of it had to be tossed. But I couldn’t reach an authentic relationship with God until I had sorted through it all. It’s like inheriting your Grandma’s house, crammed with junk and odds and ends. It’s quite the task to go through it all, weighing what’s worth keeping.

  5. Okay, I’ll admit it. I am clueless as to what AWANA is. Is this one of those “church culture” deals?

    • I suppose it is. AWANA is a club-style program that teaches children from age 4-18 about the Bible. They earn badges and other incentives for memorizing Bible verses and answers to questions like “How do we know the Bible is true?” so in a sense, it’s like a catechism curriculum. It’s supposed to appeal to both churched and unchurched kids and have an evangelistic emphasis. If you want to learn more about it, you can check out their website. I’ve been neutral about it until this past week.

      • I like the idea of memorizing uplifting verses that encourage faith in the Lord. However, I have serious concerns about kids memorizing verses that propagate legalism. Badges are good, they give kids a sense of accomplishment. But I’d rather they feel accomplished in Christ than in church hoops they jump through.

        • There’s also an issue when the memorizing of the verses becomes legalistic itself.

          I went through two and a half years of AWANA – fourth grade Chums and fifth and sixth grade Guards.

          I went through so many cases of spending hours on the same verse because of insignificant little words being off when I recited it to the leader, and in ways that might have been correct if we’d been using another translation our congregation considered valid, that I got turned off of memorization entirely.

          Everyone else in my current Sunday School class had similar experiences from the days before AWANA – being told memorization didn’t count unless you could recall the exact chapter and verse, simply not being able to do word for word memorization and being shamed for how God made their memories work even when they could explain what it meant better than the kids parroting back the proper words in the proper word order, and so on.

          We’re doing a Bible study now that requires weekly memorization of a verse or a few verses. NONE of us, not even the teacher, can stand to even attempt it because of things the churches we attended as kids did to us in the name of making us good Christians.

  6. The basis for believing the Bible is inerrant is in this verse below… I believe every word of the Bible. Without that solid foundation I do not see how there can be any faith at all in Christianity. I urge you to pray about this specifically and ask God to show you beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is true. -Traci

    2 Timothy 3:16-17

    16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    • Hi Traci –

      First, let me say that I believe in the Word too, that 2Tim 3:16-17 is true and that the Bible is God’s Word for us. BUT, look at what verse says in comparison to what some folks say comes with the claims of inerrancy:

      “God-breathed” means God inspired the writers. Check. Useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness means just that… useful for teaching us how to live. Check.

      There is no claim in this verse that says every single fact is correct about science or history. So, is the Bible 100% consistent on facts? Hmmm…..

      Let me give you one example where the Bible is inconsistent. In the story where Jesus cast demons out of a man and into pigs, was there one demon possessed man or two? Depends… in Mark 5:1-11, there is one demon possessed man. In Matthew 8:28-34, there are two demon possessed men. Exact same story, very minor differences in wording. Unless you’re going to argue that the exact same thing happened twice, we’ve got an inconsistency.

      Here’s the question – how do we reconcile this factual discrepancy (and others) and still believe the Bible is the Word of God? I’ll tell you how I do it — my interpretaion of the verse in Timothy leans on what it SAYS, not what the church has historically IMPLIED. God promised that the Word would be USEFUL FOR TEACHING. He didn’t say that it would be 100% factually correct and consistent. “God breathed” means that He inspired the writers, and I also take it to mean that He still speaks through the Word to us today.

      I took a Biblical history class way back, taught by a minister but at a secular college. The prof pointed out many issues about the historicity of the documents, etc., and frankly, a lot of kids had their faith shaken. Why? Because they had been taught a simplistic view, what I would call an unrealistic view, that is reflected in the “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it” mentality — they believed that every word, every detail HAD TO BE 100% correct, or God was a liar. And when they were confronted with evidence that showed pretty convincingly that it wasn’t that simple, they were faced with the choice of re-examining the basis of their faith or covering their eyes and ears and saying “la la la la la…..”

      What I think Joy is saying here, and what I agree with, is that we should be teaching children about the Word of God complete with the inconsistencies and the “I don’t know about that’s”. Because if we teach them the overly simplistic view, they will be someday faced with a choice that rocks their faith. Do you want to know why young people are leaving the church in droves? It’s not because they are all heathen sinners… in many cases it’s because they were sold a view of the Bible that doesn’t stand up to criticism, and when they are confronted with evidence that conflicts, they lose their faith.

      Traci — I’m not out to shake your faith. But you should know, not every Christian believes that every fact in the Bible is historically accurate, and that doesn’t mean we’re lesser Christians. In many cases, it means we’ve grappled with tough issues and our faith in God has come out stronger. We just don’t view the Bible the same way — it’s God’s Word, and it is useful for teaching, etc., and God still speaks through it today. But it’s not a history book or a science book.

      Excellent post, Joy.

      • Dan, there are no contradictions in the KJV. There are many problems with the modern versions. I list some of them in my series here and I’m planning to blog about some “apparent contradictions” that after study you see they are not contradictions after all.

        Psalm 12:6-7 The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
        Proverbs 30:5
        Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

        See why modern versions are to blame and who’s behind them… http://www.halloffamemoms.com/category/blog-series/king-james-bible-series/

        • Brian Jonson says:

          KJV-Only? OH wow…please no!

          Sure, the KJV, which was mostly a revision of previous English versions, was based on the third edition of the Textus Receptus, a Greek manuscript by Erasmus that was based on only six late manuscripts (and none for Revelation) and rushed together so that the printer could beat the Complutension Polyglot.

          The KJV-Only position is defended ONLY with circular reasoning and assumed conclusions. Please, spare us.

        • King James has the same one man or two contradiction in Matthew/Mark.

          Mark 5:2 “And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit”

          Matthew 8:28 “ And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.”

          Mark – one man. Matthew – two men. Same story, different number of men. King James Version.

          If that isn’t a contradiction, what is?

          • Have you studied it out – comparing scripture with scripture? That’s what we are taught to do. II Timothy 2: 15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

            I wasn’t aware of a contradiction there so I’d have to take time to study it but I know there are “apparent contradictions” but after study they can be resolved. In fact, we are going through a study on “apparent contradictions” in church now and we’re assigned some verses to study regarding this issue.

            • Yeah, I’ve gone through it comparing the two passages. They are both immediately following the scene where Jesus calms the storm, tells his disciples “oh ye of little faith” basically. Lands onshore in Genesaret or region of Gadarenes depending on version, then the demon possessed man (or two) comes from the tombs, the demons request to be sent into the pigs, etc. It’s definitely the same story but with one man vs. two.

              I’d be curious to hear how this ‘apparent contradiction’ would be explained away. To me, it’s not a big deal – if the author of Matthew said “two” and the author of Mark said “one”, and one of them was “wrong”, it doesn’t shake my faith in God in the least. It’s really a minor detail that doesn’t affect the substance of the story — both authors can be inspired by God and include different details, and that’s ok.

        • Traci, I adore your sweet heart and I know you truly believe what you’re saying. I had the pleasure of rooming with you the first year of Relevant and I believe you have a genuine heart to know truth and stand up for it. However, in the same genuine spirit of wanting to know truth, I beg of you…as a sister in Christ, to look into the man ‘King James’ and what his desire was with his version of the bible. He was not a godly Christian man, as many Baptists seem to think he was. He was a tyrant who abused his ‘authority’ and the Christians took it hook line and sinker. His terrorist tactics got passed down through the churches and those same tactics are still used today. I know this is probably unbelievable, but I too took the same position you’re taking here. I followed that line all the way down and it snared my walk with God. Thankfully, the very teaching of ‘know what you believe, why you believe it, and take a stand for it’ was the very teaching that caused me to double check the pastor’s sources and discover the true history of the KJV.

          Other than this, I know you mean well..I adore you as a sister… but the problem with Awana isn’t the version of the bible it uses. I have seen far too many IFB pastors use the KJV and the IFB teachings to further abuse people and molest children. So lets not make this genuine concern that Joy has over Awana into a bible version debate. The KJV is not the answer to her concern.

  7. This resonates SO much with me. It feels like a constant struggle to make sure that my children get an accurate picture of God, faith, and the Bible. One that is understandable to them. I just had a discussion the other week with my 10 year old about creation. He’s really into science, space and all that stuff, but is confused about why they talk about the Big Bang but Bible stories talk about creation. How do you even begin to explain that on a 10 year old level? How does a 10 year old who can barely pick out the main theme in a children’s book understand that what the creation story says about GOD is the important thing, not what it says about how things actually began? All I can hope is that even if I confuse him now, at least down the road he’ll be on a better footing than I was.

  8. THANK YOU. Sometimes I feel like such a scrooge being an Awana critique. This is why I love you.

  9. I get the outrage of this, I suppose. I am a former christian, but I allow my children to attend church with my parents. I feel that as adults, we are so sinical of everything! I found much more comfort in not inflicting my negative outlooks on the VERY flawed church(government, the world, etc.) to form my childs view on God, Jesus or whathave you. I think allowing a child to see Jesus as positive force of christianity at a young age is a good thing. I think you all need to recall yourselves as children and what church was to you and decide then if all of this, that you find so “appalling” is truely necessary. Children have plenty of time to find out what the bible is at a deeper level as they grow and mature.

    • I recall my childhood quite well. By my teen years I was getting pretty confused about God, fueled in part by a combination of things about the Bible and church teachings that didn’t make sense, trying to reconcile the Bible with science and perceived reality, and problems within the church.
      Years later, after going through a crisis of faith or twelve, after essentuially giving up on teh God I so desperatyely wanted to believe in, my faith is far, far deeper than I thought possible. But it springs from my relationship with the living God, not a book or rules.

  10. Our kids are in first year Sparks and T&T. I’m finding it a good springboard for discussions about why we believe. So long as we continue to listen to what they’re learning and communicate with them about it, I’m okay with it. I like the idea of them learning to “chew and spit” from an early age. Giving children permission to think critically about what they’re told about God and the bible isn’t a bad thing, even if AWANA teaches otherwise. 😉

  11. My biggest beef with AWANA’s is how performance-based it is. You get prizes for memorizing Scripture and whoever memorizes the most wins! In my opinion, it doesn’t really cultivate a love for God or His Word, but focuses on outward goodness…performing and being conditioned to give the right answer.

  12. Hmmm I did a lot of awanas as a kid, maybe that’s what messed me up so much! I keep trying to figure out how growing up I learned certain things I didn’t remember anyone teaching it to me specifically, but the happy all the time and bible is 100% right and easy to understand bible seem so secondary to my childhood that I feel like I have to fight against it now because I know it’s not true.

  13. Brian Jonson says:

    Right on Joy…excellent comments.

    Even the staunchest believer in inerrancy must do major explaining when confronted with dozens of numerical discrepancies in the complimentary books of Chronicles, Kings and Samuel. Also, those who take a literal interpretation of Genesis’ creation story find themselves in alignment with the Roman Catholics who wanted to throw Copernicus in jail for making his bold assertions. We have to be so delicate here. Some segments of Christianity eagerly vilify scientists and even science itself.

    An honest review of Bible interpretation over the last 2000 years will reveal a majority of Christians did NOT believe the earth is 6000 years old and that there has been no real change in the species who live on this planet. To say this young earth view is a requirement for either true salvation or a belief in the truth of the Bible is to be ignorant and, in the case of some, uncharitable.

  14. Francis Schaeffer, probably the greatest theologian of our time has some great articles about what we believe about the Bible that I really think are important for anyone who really wants to research this topic.

  15. The great Awana debate raged in our home too. I grew up doing it, the girls loved it, but we were constantly deprogramming on the way home. When we started having too many “wrath of God” discussions (the bent of a particular leader not the Awana curriculum) we finally gave up. I accept that both at church and at school and simply in the course of life our kids will pick up ignorant/overly simplistic/flat out wrong impressions of the world and we can’t live in fear of that, just correct and redirect and laugh with them about them. But attitude, that’s hard to redirect and that is what irks me about Awana. Smug, absolute, arrogant, us-vs-them… it worries me.

    Thanks for this post.

  16. Rebekah S. says:

    I would like to comment on the happy all the time song. The past several years of my life I have gone through one trial or difficulty after another. The past year has been the worst as I have learned the meaning of suffering. For a while, I even became angry with God. I thought that Him helping meant that the suffering would somehow feel less intense and that I would have joy all the time. I wasn’t angry that God didn’t heal me. I was angry because I thought He wasn’t helping me. Then one day God heard my plea to speak to me, and I realized that He had been helping me through the life of a friend. Now through more difficulty, I don’t know if that same friend will ever speak to me again. God must have room in His kingdom for grief and lament. Perhaps we need to read Hebrews 5:7 more closely where we learn that Jesus cried out loudly. During this year, I read Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor). My number one take away from this book was that suffering is painful, and to deny the suffering you endure is a mistake. I highly recommend this book. I get frustrated by the testimonies shown on video in my church that don’t reveal the reality of the trials and struggles in someone’s life. Sometimes they do, but not always. Life is hard. When I read the Psalms, I see grief on every page. Let’s remember that these were songs that the Hebrews sung. Try reading Psalm 88. The only thing positive in that Psalm is that the author cried out to God. I must add that God has been helping me find joy in the midst of my suffering, which has not ended, but I still grieve over some recent events in my life and cry over my suffering. There has to be a balance between the joyful Christian life and sorrow. I’m just not sure what that is yet or how it should look in my life. If you want to know more about emotions in the life of a believer, I would recommend Feel by Matthew Elliott. It’s powerful in its message. You can learn more here: http://www.faithfulfeelings.com/index.html. Thank you, my old college roommate, for giving me a place to publicly write naked for once.

  17. Stacy Berndtson says:

    Because as an adult I have lived a life that proves I am not happy all the time, I don’t know that I can necessarily blame Jesus for NOT being happy all the time. In James it says “Consider it Joy-when you face trials…” It doesn’t say feel Joy. Consider it. Compare it really- for what lies ahead if you are a believer. That what you face now is being viewed by an all knowing God-who sees the end of the matter before the beginning. Philip Yancey said “Faith is believing in advance, what will only make sense in reverse”. As to the inerrancy of the bible-God’s word(not to be confused with errors man has made in the translations of it and so forth) , I have believed that since I was Awana age though I don’t know that they had Awana back then, and I have never struggled with some of the issues that my peers who came to Christ at an older age have. Perhaps that is due to indoctrination as you say. But, I will tell you that believing every word I’ve read in the Bible is “breathed by God” and believing that His spirit will apply it perfectly to MY heart-this saved my very life when my only child, my daughter died at age 4. Believing that the same Grace His death and ressurrection extended to me is the same Grace that welcomed my darling girl into a heavenly home where I have complete assurance that I WILL one day see her and hold her in my arms again-I’ll take that kind of indoctrination any day. I LOVE that my now 5 year old daughter(who God blessed us with through adoption 4 years after our daughter died) is learning scripture through AWANA. If AWANA indoctrinates I’ll take it over any other form of indoctrination there may be in this sick and fallen world. As for the time it took for God to create this world, I’m going to let Him worry about that. It wasn’t a big bang, it was created by the Creator and that is what I intend to teach my daughter.

  18. I believe that God who is big enough to inspire his “pure words” is powerful enough to preserve them “pure” as well – he promised so in Psalms 12:6-7 (KJV).

    “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”

    The big problem we have today with so many “modern” bible versions is that they do not all agree with each other (and for sure not with the KJV which came before them and went through a purification process regarding the English language which wasn’t even stable at the beginning). And the reason they don’t is related to the Westcott & Hort Greek Text created in the late 1800’s which used poor Greek and corrupted scriptures that scholars seem to really like.

    For anyone curious about the facts, I have some specifics about why modern versions are corrupt and the KJV is not… this is a series that will be ongoing for some time to come I suspect. And its not about idolizing the bible, its about believing God’s Word and that he will keep his word. http://www.halloffamemoms.com/category/blog-series/king-james-bible-series/

    Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.”

    Luke 4:4 “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”

    There has to be a preserved complete word of God – modern versions have some of it and so many changes otherwise that they are “hole-y”. The KJV is proven to be the complete preserved Word of God. We must teach our children they can trust all of it, taken in the right context too…. we cannot pick and choose what we think is right and what we don’t want to believe to be true. That puts man above God and God is powerful enough to take care of what is his.

    • I think we should all be learning Hebrew and Greek, because it was written before the KJV.

      • We don’t need to though. The bible was preserved in the major language of the world “at the time”: Hebrew, then Greek, and now English. English is the main world language today and as I’ve heard, the purest form of English has been what was used in the KJV.

        • Brian Jonson says:


          You have hijacked this thread with the ridiculous and indefensible position that the KJV is the only valid Bible. Please…stop. You need to read James White’s “The King James Only Controversy”. That book “cured” me of the same ailment after seven years of holding that position.

          • Amen. Amen. and AMEN to Brian Johnson.

            Coming from a “KJV only” childhood from a church denomination – Independent, Fundamental Baptist.

            I personally believe the Bible is TRUE. I struggle to comprehend the author of this post’s problem with God saying “The sum of Your Word is true.” because I believe He has preserved Truth – historically and scientifically – in His Word and it is Truth. How is that misleading our children to say so, I do not yet grasp. But this KJV only issue needs to stop.

        • Tracy, I appreciate your concern about Bible versions and translation. This is a very important topic. I highly recommend learning more about translation and understanding ancient cultures. That can only help us understand the Sccriptures better. However, that isn’t the problem I have with the lyrics to our children’s songs and what they are being taught about the Bible. It’s the language we use about the Bible – what we teach them to believe about the nature of this book and what to expect of/from it. I don’t want to set them up for disillusionment and the shipwreck of their faith later. These are things I wrestled with, and I want to guide them through that better than I was guided. I pray that I don’t make things worse instead!

  19. I’ve taught AWANA and I must admit, it’s not my favorite thing. However, at the heart of it kids are learning scripture that we pray will be hidden in their hearts. It also gives parents a spring board for conversation about why we believe what we believe-if parents take the time to read through the stories with their kids over the week between meetings. Whether it’s church or school or work our kids will be exposed to things we may not agree with and that’s where we get to bring things into a Biblical perspective and use it as a moment to look at God’s word to see what the truth is-I love teaching opportunities!

  20. My mother in law recently sent my boys Awana books for them to do with us. She had asked my husband about it before she sent them which we really appreciated. I’m glad that she cares about their spiritual formation and I am going to assume that since her church does Awanas and ours does not she was just wanting to share that with the kids with the best of intentions. Unfortunately when we began reading through the books, we realized that we would have to spend a lot of time explaining away some of the harsher teachings and the dogma that is attached. It just wasn’t worth the time and effort, especially when our church has an amazing curriculum that we can use during the week with our kids.

  21. Thank you for this post. We don’t have Awana at our church, but we’ve been invited, and I’m glad to know about its content. Post-college, the weight of my doubt very nearly crushed my faith because of this all-or-nothing thinking about God and Scripture. God is bigger than our modern scientific mindset. He is bigger than our questions. I want to have my children love scripture while still feeling comfortable voicing their doubts and their questions and understanding its strangeness.

  22. ok…I might have a book you might like to read….It is called “So you Don’t Want to go to church anymore”…now the title is a little miss leading…it is not a book bashing church per say…but it is written in a story form…a man’s journey out of rules and form to relationship. I think it will resonate with things you are wrestling here. blessings as you wrestle and seek God’s wisdom in raising your children.

  23. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home and up until a few years ago, I had no idea what AWANA was.

    However, for the last 2 years I have happily sent my 6 and 4 year old along and watched them have fun and learn scripture. Pretty benign stuff.

    But, I understand the points you ar making. I sympathize. But, as someone who did not have the opportunity to “know Jesus” as a child or in a home environment, I’ve realized that so much of parenting isn’t “undoing” what has been taught to our children–but rather equipping them to think and discern for themselves.

    I trust the Holy Spirit to guide my children, beyond what I may teach them. It’s in learning to hear His voice–not try to filter out every other voice–that spiritual maturity and discernment take place.

  24. i will admit that i haven’t read all your other articles on this topic, so if my comments show my ignorance of what you have already written, i’ll admit it up front.

    what i’m hearing from your post is that the song and biblical inerrancy go together. while i don’t accept the “truth” of the song i too grew up singing, that isn’t the same as Biblical inerrancy.

    The belief that all scripture is inspired by GOD is that it was protected from errors in truth. When we consider all the translating and all the years involved, it is pretty amazing that it has as few “typo” errors and “disagreements” as it does.

    When they are investigated, many of them vanish as well. But for sure, the truth of the gospel is not affected at all by any of those. I’m not sure I would teach that every single word in english is true. The place where I have heard it taught, say that the original manuscripts are completely without error. I do think the statement you read was a little overstated in their desire to teach that the Bible is true.

    I have found it interesting as I have been reading the Bible through in 90 days, how much of it links to other books that weren’t written at the same time by people who had no way to know each other. By reading it through rapidly like this has been very helpful to me in seeing how connected it all is.

    In the final analysis, we have to take the Bible and its authorship by faith. It’s not that I think Bible is to be worshiped but I need to believe the Author of the Bible was ultimately GOD or I’m wasting my time reading it. If I can’t count on the fact that He chose frail humans to write it under His inspiration, then I can’t pick and choose which things Iwill believe. I don’t like being in that position…at all! But that’s where I have to land.

  25. I have never heard of AWANA, but I would like to comment on the “Happy All The Time” song. Could it be that the words of this song aren’t necessarily about being happy in the midst of trials and hardships we face in the world, and not being able to show any other emotions such as anger and sadness, … but having a deeper JOY that never goes away because we are followers of Christ? We have a HOPE. We have something and SOMEONE to trust in. This world is not our home and we are to take heart in knowing that Christ has overcome the world?

    What I mean is, that with a song like this, I would use it to teach my children that although we will inevitably face pain and tragedy in our lives, we can’t let that pain overtake our spirits and break us. Ultimately, we are still joyous to be children of God who will one day inherit His kingdom. I’m afraid that if our children do not understand this “happiness” or joy that is present in us no matter our worldly conditions, they run the risk of letting something so hurtful, and so sad take over their minds and their spirits, that they would want to end their life like so many do today. All because they have nothing to live for because they have nothing at that moment of heartache to be “happy”about. We are to always have that happiness in us, knowing that there is something waiting for us far beyond the conditions of this life. And if I didn’t always have this joy in me, well … I think I would need to maybe reevaluate my priorities. If I lost it all, my home, my family, my sanity even, … but still had my God and his promises, I could find at least a piece of joy in me. If we go through this pain and don’t feel happy to be a Christian, I think we should ask ourselves WHY.

    I could be way off base here though, just some thoughts that crossed my mind.

  26. I believe the Bible is inspired and true, but “truth” is deeper and more than merely “factual.” Literal inerrancy limits the power of the Bible’s truth, imo.

  27. I just skipped all the comments, sorry. I wanted to add that in our last church, I had to be at church one Wednesday per month and so that one Wednesday I had to take my son to AWANA. I would rather have not taken him because some of the stuff he got the very first time made me very uncomfortable, but that was my “childcare” for the evening.


  1. […] loved this post from Joy Bennett about frustrations with some of the black and white teaching that can get to our kids in […]

  2. […] everything in the Bible is always exactly right, are empty and false nearly destroyed my faith. I cannot allow these ideas to infect and destroy my children.”“Many would recognize evangelicals for their anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-family […]

  3. Commonplace Links 10/18 « The Nest Egg says:

    […] Awana songs? Bad theology? […]