Every year Awana offers Ministry Conferences all over the US to provide leaders the confidence and tools to serve in Awana. States from California to New York will be hosting 100’s of these conferences! Awana Missionaries, Ministry team members, pastors, teachers, and more have been preparing for months to bring unique workshops that can help equip leaders to bring the gospel of Christ to 1000’s of children all over the world! I am always excited to plan and prepare workshop especially for Cubbie Leaders!
I encourage leaders that I meet to attend an AMC (Awana Ministry Conference) in their area. Whether you are new leader or season Awana director, there is always a workshop for you. However, often the response I get is not “Oh I am so excited to attend this year!” Rather there are three main reasons I hear that leaders don’t want to attend.
The first is pretty common among seasoned leaders…”Why do I have attend? I have been to a lot them for the past 20 years. “Conferences are for new leaders.” Awana leaders who often have serve for many years. They are the ones who could tell the simple history of the 4 colors, what a Citation Award is and who started Awana. They have endured countless revisions and rewrites to the curriculum. They could probably teach a lot of the workshops at conference with their experience!
Years ago I was speaking with my a friend of mine. I had a great admiration for her because she seemed to know everything about…well, everything! I mentioned my son, who was in 4th grade at the time, didn’t want to go to his Sunday School class because he told me knew everything already about the Bible. And he knew all the answers each week. She laughed with me as we both knew that was not the case, but understood why he said that. He had been attending church since he was born, started Awana at 3 and studied Bible in school, so to him he felt he knew everything about the Bible. She reminded me that despite herself being an adult, and being a Christian who grew up in the church, with hours of her own Bible study and classes, she herself was still gleaning from God’s word. And remarked that even today she learned something new from God’s word! Are you one of those leaders who is like my son, you have done Awana so long, you don’t feel you need to learn any more?
Why not think of the AMC as a way to glean new information. Maybe you will find out about the latest curriculum change in Awana, yes, it happens and it’s happening this time in Truth & Training. Perhaps you will get new ideas to spruce up your lesson time or ideas for helping children do more than memorize a memory verse. How about learning how to reach out to those parents who aren’t there very often. Maybe you need a class just for you, how to recharge your own spiritual relationship with the Lord. Attend the AMC this year by asking God to help you discover something new for you this year in Awana.
The second reason I hear that people can’t attend is that they don’t have time. Oh, how I understand this and yes, there is so much on our calendars. In three weeks we will have our AMC, and I am still putting together what I want to present in my workshops. I still have to be a mom, take care of my house and my family, prepare and teach in both Awana and our children’s program Wednesday. I also have to take care of school paperwork that will be due at the end of September, remember appointments, and other commitments. Oversee my other ministries at church, and make sure they are not neglected. On the day of our AMC, I will be missing two major events that I would love to be at. But I can’t, I have a commitment to Awana. And I am ok with that. Of course, there are times when you cannot attend a conference and I don’t want to guilt any leader for making the decision not to attend the AMC. When you can attend make every effort you can to come. Rearrange your schedule if possible, and put it on your calendar just as soon as learn about it. You will always be blessed coming to conference!
The last reason I often hear is several wrapped into one..I don’t know if it’s for me, I don’t know what to expect or I can’t afford it. New leaders are often excited about going because they want to get ideas or help, but some shy away from it for just that reason. They are already overwhelmed and aren’t really sure they need more advice on what to do! Until recently leaders weren’t really sure if there would be workshops they would be interested in. Conference can be pricey especially now when leaders are on limited incomes or have to take a day off from work just to attend.
Attending conference should never be stressful! But I know some leaders come and are overwhelmed the minute they walk up and get their registration packet. We have all been there. Trust me I know, I remember my first conference, it was overwhelming and when I went home that night, I had more information that I knew what to do with. If you have new leaders attending with you, help them know what to expect and encourage them. Many missionaries are now putting workshop descriptions online so that leaders can see them ahead of time when they register. Leaders can then decide which ones are best for them. This helps eliminate the last minute scramble before heading off their first workshop. Conferences are also a great place to make new friends and receive lots of encouragement for the new year in Awana!
Cost can be an issue, and some leaders simply can’t attend because of this. Commanders can work with their church to help assist those who want to attend but can’t due to the cost. Some churches help by paying some or all of the registration fee. While others allow them to pay a little at time to help cover costs. What exactly do the fees cover you ask? Often times it’s for food, materials and rental costs of the facilities. If cost is an issue for your leaders talk with your Commander or Awana Missionary about it and see what suggestions they have to offer.
As I said earlier I am all about Awana and kids, and I love the AMC. It’s a place where I can go to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in awhile. I am always inspired by the key note speakers, workshop leaders and leaders attending the workshops. I get to be part of an amazing organization who goal is to reach all children and youth with the gospel of Christ so they come to know, love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ!