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True Story

When I was in elementary school, I was involved in AWANA, which is something like an Arminian, Dispensationalist, Christian version of the Boy Scouts. Every year, we had a handbook that we tried to work through, and we earned patches and awards and stuff for memorizing Bible verses and completing projects out of that handbook.

One year, I finished my handbook a little early, and, to be productive, I opted to take written tests over what I had learned that year. One of the questions was a multiple choice that said, "Christ died for _________." After some long thought, I marked "those who put their faith in him." Instead, the answer was supposed to be "the whole world."

When I talked to my AWANA leader about it, I explained, "Well, it only works for those who believe," but she didn't budge. Interestingly, I never really heard about Calvinism until I was a senior in high school, and I didn't come to accept the doctrine of Limited Atonement until late in my junior year of college, but only after I believed in the other four points of Calvinism.

Funny what kids learn by memorizing Bible verses.

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You forgot "fundamentalist."

I took those written tests, because like you, I was an AWANA overachiever. I'm pretty sure I did (or would have) written "for our sins" in that blank. How far did you get in AWANA? Please don't tell me you got the coveted Citation Award. I would have hated you.

I can't exactly remember, but I know that I only got through sixth-grade-level AWANA, whatever that was (a Pioneer, maybe?). I think that the last award I received was the Timothy Award.

How many tests did you take? And do you remember what they were for? (An extra pin or something?) I only took one set of tests one year, and I was really hurt by the fact that I hadn't really memorized the citations for my verses during the year.

That year, by the way, was the only year that I really overachieved--I got my book done in eight weeks. The rest of the year was extremely boring.

Then you got the Timothy Award.

I don't remember exactly how many tests I took, but Whirlybirds was the year that I uber-overachieved, and did not only the required books, but two additional books, and for that I received two medals in a special ceremony after the regular Awards ceremony at the end of the year. I distinctly remember that they spelled my name "Lynsay" on the medals and I was very annoyed.

But after that I regularly overachieved by doing those tests, until the last year in Guards, when I didn't even care to finish with the Timothy Award, but did anyway. I think the tests only gave you an extra torch charm or patch on that little plastic bar that was on the Awana uniform. But that is where I met Katie (and Allison) Brestel.

Did you know that Zion is doing AWANA now? The Presbyteer organized it, so he could tell you more about the reasoning behind it and how it's being implemented.

I did not know that. I should probably have written this when I first wrote the post, but I wasn't trying to put AWANA down by calling it Dispensationalist, etc... I had looked up their doctrinal stance and labeling them accordingly.

But, I think that AWANA was a very good thing in my life. Even if I was gently nudged away from Calvinism in it, I memorized far more Bible verses than I ever would have if I had not been motivated in that context. Even if I might have memorized those verses for the wrong motive (AWANA prizes and candy), I am still amazed at how much what I learned then is still helpful now.

Also, memorizing Bible verses is memorizing Bible verses. It's not like they made me learn the "Dispensationalist verses." The fact that my experience was Dispensational and Arminian (although, I should definitely note that my leaders were some very godly people) had more to do with my church than with the program itself.

But, having said all that, I'd love to hear about how AWANA is being implemented at a Presbyterian church.

Yeah, you should ask The Presbyteer about it. I'm not involved at all, so he could tell you much more than I could.

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