By Pastor Domenico Danesi
After 4 years of the Titus 2 model for the children’s mid-week there was need for a revival. As I looked around on Wednesday evenings in 2017 we were averaging 10-12 children and half of them were 10 or 11 years old, meaning they will be moving on from children’s ministry in 1 or 2 years. The nursery would have 1 to 3 children most Wednesdays and extinction was near if a change was not implemented.
Enter AWANA (A Workman And Not Ashamed). As time was passing and Wednesdays were dying I met with Doug, the local missionary for AWANA, three times. I picked his brain and listened to him. I engaged in conversations with other parents and churches about their AWANA experiences. Then the decision was made. This would be quite a change. I am not a “teach from a box” kind of leader. Could AWANA be the agent God would use for a children’s ministry revival? There were some concerns and a little doubt, but it was time for the change. Where God guides, God provides. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
On Wednesday March 7th, by faith, we launched AWANA. AWANA has three main components: large group, small group, and games. The children are broken up into two groups: Sparks, ages 5-7, and TNT, ages 8-11. Large group is bible/gospel lesson. Small group is the bible memorization and relational portion of AWANA, and games is for fun and bonding.
AWANA has been a huge hit! I give God all the glory, as do the other leaders. A weekly commitment on behalf of all leaders was stressed. The men and women serving have been faithful and fantastic. The children have been loving AWANA. We are averaging over 30 children every Wednesday. That’s triple what our attendance was prior to AWANA!
The children are learning God’s word, hearing the gospel, and having a great time. The BOCES building is a perfect facility for lots of kids to participate in AWANA. The gym and the cafeteria at BOCES can hold up to 100 children, and we hope in the fall to get at least 50 children attending AWANA on Wednesdays.
Come fall we will look to get children from East Rochester to start attending. Looking forward to the AWANA blitz the end of this summer, we will make a concentrated effort to reach out to our community and pray the Lord will bring children and families to our AWANA club in the fall.