AWANA is a program used by many Evangelical churches as a tool to train children in various areas of discipleship, primarily, Scripture memorization. While churches use the program in varying degrees—ranging from nothing more than practicing and reciting Scripture to using the full curriculum—it should be noted that the direction the ministry is going is troubling, to say the least.
In full disclosure, I have personally been an AWANA leader at my own church for several years and have never run into any serious issues. The Scripture memory books are pretty basic and the program and activities themselves are formulated by our church. The AWANA program is simply going to be what the Church makes of it and just because a church is using the AWANA program doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to be taught the troubling trends that are coming from the top.
All that being said, it is necessary to be aware and watchful as the movement the AWANA ministry is taking could, and likely will sooner rather than later, have an effect and influence the churches using the program. And, that direction is not looking good.
In September 2022, AWANA will be hosting a training program for leaders called the Child Discipleship Forum. This program, which is partnered with various ministries, including a host of questionable and even rank apostate ministries, will include several openly gay speakers who promote unbiblical “inclusive” ideas about homosexuality.
At the top of the list includes a woman named Rebecca McLaughlin. Rebecca McLaughlin is a far-left social justice warrior and self-described feminist who has openly stated that she’s attracted to women and that if she weren’t a Christian, she’d likely be married to a woman. She’s also stated that homosexual attraction is not worse than heterosexual attraction. But, in 2019, McLaughlin penned an article at The Gospel Coalition insisting that “faithful” homosexuals are the most credible voices that God has raised up to speak for the Church on issues of sexual immorality.
“Likewise, when it comes to other areas of cultural engagement, we need to let our most credible voices speak,” McLaughlin writes. “In a world where Christians are seen as homophobic bigots, we need to get behind the biblically faithful, same-sex-attracted Christians God has raised up to speak for and to his church,” she added.
Worse, in 2018, McLaughlin penned an article at The Gospel Coalition urging Christians to try to find “gospel themes” in the book, 50 Shades of Grey, which is about sexual fetishes and various forms of disgusting BDSM–nothing a Christian should be laying their eyes on.
…the idea of this awkward move from transgressive eroticism to marriage can teach us something about the human condition. It is perhaps something those of us who identify as Christians, and rightly champion marriage as the only context for sex, will hesitate to acknowledge: marriage is ultimately unsatisfying.
So, why are these so-called “faithful” homosexuals so obsessed with sexuality? Somebody should really ask her that question—out loud.
The Program will also include the notorious homosexual Anglican priest, Sam Allberry, who we’ve also covered multiple times at Reformation Charlotte. Sam Allberry. Allberry describes himself as someone who has “sexual, romantic and deep-emotional attractions to people of the same sex.” While Allberry is insistent that he does not act — physically — on his sexual desires, he does deny that his desires could ever change and is the founder of a “ministry” that promoted man-to-man intimacy so long as it stopped short of bodily penetration.
Sam Allberry has been co-opted by organizations like The Gospel Coalition and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission to move the Evangelical Overton Window on homosexuality. To be clear, we’re not accusing Allberry of, himself, practicing homosexuality. He claims to be celibate and we will take him at his word. However, he, too, is obsessed with speaking and preaching on issues of homosexuality which typically include normalizing “same-sex attraction” and treating it as an “affliction” that one must live with for the rest of their life rather than a sin that must be repented of.
So, is the AWANA curriculum normalizing same-sex attraction in children’s curriculum? I have not seen that and at the moment, I am not overly concerned about it. However, it is clear that the AWANA ministry itself is moving in a direction that should cause serious concern for pastors and leaders in the future. It is clear the direction the ministry is moving—the same direction that the rest of mainstream Evangelicalism is going. Ultimately, this is going to have an effect from the top down and it will make its way into your church if it is not stopped.