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AWANA — Corrupting the Faith of a Child

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

Most professing believers are familiar with the children’s program AWANA, an acronym which stands for "Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed" (taken from 2 Tim 2:15). This international evangelical nonprofit parachurch organization headquartered in Streamwood, Illinois, has been around for many years now. Its foundation was laid by North Side Gospel Center in Chicago back in 1941, where the pastor, Lance Latham, in collaboration with the church's youth director, Art Rorheim, developed weekly clubs that they believed would appeal to all children. Rorheim served as the Co-founder/President Emeritus until he died on Jan 5, 2018. With time other churches became interested in the program and by 1950 it became a parachurch ministry (source). How convenient. Now we know exactly when the compromise and heresy started, though by all appearances it had elements of unsound doctrine and a very weak or corrupted gospel right out of the starting blocks. At least however their initial ministerial foundation was Biblical—based out of the local church and not parachurch. AWANA children groups are divided into six different groups: Puggles (ages 2 to 3), Cubbies (ages 4 to 5), Sparks (Kindergarten to 2nd Grade), T&T (Grades 3 to 6), Trek (Middle School), and Journey (High School). Bible verse memorization is encouraged and rewarded with prizes, but the King James Bible is not the only Bible used in English — any corrupt perversion will do just as well.

The AWANA program claims that as of 2019 they are working with over 61,000 churches, and reach over 5 million kids every week in 134 countries. They claim to reach these "children with the gospel" and how they can "come to know, love and serve Jesus for a lifetime," but is that actually true? Is it the true gospel they are presenting and is the Jesus being presented the real Jesus of God’s Word? They also claim to be Bible-based, but much truth is not taught and that which is taught is essentially at best, very, very shallow, compounded by serious problematic and heretical doctrine and practice.

Like many unBiblical, worldly, para-church ministries, AWANA’s real colours have been coming out more and more over the last decade or so, which will naturally occur when your mooring is not anchored in truth, and you are blown about by all winds of doctrine, and your Biblical basis of relationship with Christ is corrupt and counterfeit. Why beat around the bush when you can just come out today and reveal how heretical you really are, how in tune you are with the evils of the world, and still get to keep majority of your fanbase, since that greater number of professing believers and churches, particularly those already using the program, are in the exact same compromised, woke and heretical boat as you are. Maybe this is the reason why the took the leap into woke, lefty liberalism evil, revealing their true wicked colours and not really caring. But it takes no bravery in our day to come out and go woke if you are a "Christian" or "Church." Why continue to play alive when you are in fact dead. Just play dead and you just might have the largest fanbase you could possibly imagine. Though they have always been a neo-evangelical, heretical organization, the byproduct of unregenerate hypocrites playing Christianity (Ju 1:4), the heresy and leaven has only worsened, just like the Bible warns it will (1 Cor 5:6; Gal 5:9; 2 Tim 3:13). “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2 Tim 3:13). And then the step from such leavened-over heresy to wokeness, isn’t really that big at all. The step from compromise and worldliness and heresy to wicked woke is just a baby step. Oops, there goes bravery out the window.

Let’s consider some of many proofs as to why AWANA the organization or AWANA the program, is unbiblical and heretical and thus destroying the faith of children, and why no parent should allow their child to touch it. In fact, if you are in a church where it is utilized, you should leave that church as quickly as you came in, since many further errors are absolutely certain and grounded in their beliefs, doctrine and practice.

1. AWANA is Fully Woke.

The following is excerpted from “Awana,” Nov. 2, 2022:

“AWANA . . . since 2021 has increasingly featured and been dominated by social justice/woke, LGBTQ inclusion activist evangelical speakers. Based on its 2022 and 2023 discipleship events and speakers, Awana is in the polluted stream of Tim Keller’s WOKE organization The Gospel Coalition (TGC) [see also Keller link], Neo-Calvinist leader’s Together 4 The Gospel (T4G), along with the now disgraced former leader of the ERLC, Russell Moore. Clearly Third Way politics and activist / inclusion/ BLM [Black Lives Matter]/ CRT [Critical Race Theory] narratives are flooding Awana. . . . Note about the speakers at Awana’s Child Discipleship Forum, Sept. 2022: SAM ALLBERRY is an activist same-sex attracted /homosexual priest from the Church of England and co-founder of ‘Living Out’ a controversial LGBTQ inclusion movement which has sought to ‘Audit Churches for LGBTQ Inclusion.’ ANDY CROUCH is a former editor of left-swerving Christianity Today who used his position there to promote the LGBTQ activist ‘Revoice’ movement and now serves on Revoice Board /Council. REBECCA MCLAUGHLIN is in the TGC [The Gospel Coalition] speaker promoting the APA/ SOGI [American Psychological Association’s Sexual Orientation Gender Identity] based same-sex attraction narrative. . . . Awana’s 2023 Child Discipleship Forum promises a racially woke rapper and more. Speakers include SHAI LINNE, a rapper and writer and TGC regular. He was discipled at TGC /T4G leader Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Shai is a racial activist using vintage critical race theory narratives . . . Linne’s own words advocating Black Lives Matter (BLM) reflect his Critical Race Theory worldview in his reflections on the death of George Floyd which launched the BLM riots and Marxist-styled protest of 2020. . . . Mark Markins [new CEO of Awana] appears to be desperately eager to turn Awana from the tried and true and treasure focus of teaching Bible verses to our children and grandchildren, which is viewed by him and others inside Awana as ‘looking back to the ways of the past and the methods of the good ole days.’ Markins warns churches and parents that this ‘looking back’ is wrong and is failing their children and [we should rather be] ‘looking ahead and charting a course to the future.’ Clearly by ‘Charting a New Course,’ Markins and Awana leadership mean your children need LGBTQ Church Inclusion . . . BLM advocate rap with Critical Race Theory driven narratives on race by Shai Linne which are loose with the facts and heavy on systemic racism worldview."

Wow. A conference loaded with demonic, apostate birds of every feather (Matt 13:32). Ravening wolves in sheep's clothing, of whom Christ warned:

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Matt 7:15).

Yet, AWANA intentionally and purposefully, aligns with these heretics and wolves in sheep's clothing.

This one point alone necessitates the negation and rejection of this program from your children's lives, and shame upon you if you continue to destroy your children with ongoing enrolment.

2. AWANA’s False Gospel/Soteriology.

One of the big concerns today in general is the corruption and severe watering down of the Gospel/Soteriology (doctrine of salvation), which are under terrible attack. AWANA is no exception. AWANA clearly corrupts the gospel message, on how a child can be truly, genuinely saved, and not become another statistic. In the picture below, which is from an AWANA pamphlet personally reviewed, one notes certain things present and not present.

Neither the word or description or principles of repentance is mentioned at all, not even once, only "All I have to do is trust Christ as my Saviour." Now, though there is truth to that as we are only saved through faith by God's grace (Eph 2:8-9), its nevertheless not a complete picture of salvation, and faith without repentance is not true faith (e.g. Matt 21:32; Lk 5:31-32; Ac 3:19 and 4:4). Repentance is the very foundation of salvation. They actually don't even talk about "believing." They say, "Trust," which is one aspect of "belief," but no one would know that. What little of the gospel is mentioned, is watered-down and vague. What AWANA teaches here is not really the gospel. It has some of the parts to the gospel, but it leaves too much out and botches other parts of it to be called, "the gospel.”

The testimonies of children online reveal how shallow, watered-down, and vague the teaching is at AWANA, and how corrupt the gospel really is. Its at best easy believism, which is gospel perversion (Gal 1:6-9)

Lily and Marie (12 and 13 year-old sisters) stated they grew up in church and AWANA was great to them because they saw that God was real. They stated that their favourite part (of AWANA) was “knowing about God and knowing that God was with them through everything.” One of them added, “sometimes you may go through tough times, and then having God in your heart, is like having your best friend by your side 24/7.” Towards the end of the video, in recommendation of AWANA, one of them said, “I would tell those who don’t have AWANA, at least try it, it’s great knowing that someone is there for you, somebody’s got your back. When you are going through times of trouble, you think you’ve got nothing, you always know God is there...” No mention was made of salvation in Christ, Christ’s atoning work, the problem of sin, repentance, hell, fulfilling God's glory and will, and so on. Its all about "me," what Christ can do and provide for me, which is the false gospel of self-fullfillment so rampant today. Below is a screen shot of one of their activities. They were singing and dancing in an inappropriate worldly manner on a concert-like stage, and dressing gender indistinctively, which is transgenderism.

Koen states that through AWANA he knew how to come closer to God and how to go to heaven. He mentions that he didn’t know anything about Christianity, but now he knows more. However, completely absent once again is anything about a true salvation testimony (apart from only saying he knows how to get to heaven), or the atoning work of Christ, the big problem of sin, our wickedness, the need for repentance, the awfulness of hell and so on, none of which are ever mentioned.

The watered-down, perverted gospel is further noted in the testimony of a girl named Emily, “If I accept Him (Jesus Christ) I won’t have eternal death . . . it was just really amazing.” That is all she mentioned about salvation. She did not mention the problem of sin and our ungodliness and wickedness before God, the need for repentance and what that means, or anything about hell at all, which she probably doesn't even know about since "eternal death" is the contrast of what she thinks she has now. With this false profession she has been given false assurance, making her a two-fold child of hell, who allegedly "loves to invite her friends to church" praying weekly that "her friends will understand how much Jesus loves them." Contemporary "Christianity" has created a false Jesus and preaches a false gospel (2 Cor 11:4), and AWANA represents both.

Out of these testimonies, not even one actually understands what salvation is. Not one understands the true gospel. Not one gave any real acknowledgement of ever being lost, or what being lost meant, that they were lost because of their sin and now saved because of repentance and faith in Christ. That is completely absent from any testimonies posted by AWANA. Yet these are basics and foundational to the true gospel and salvation, but these children don't have the first clue, and yet profess to be Christian. Some of the videos also use rock music in it, which is unBiblical, ungodly and only characteristic of unsaved charlatans.

It is obvious that AWANA doesn't believe in a true gospel and are merely producing false professions and making two-fold children of hell. it is further obvious they don't believe that repentance is necessary to be saved. Their statement of faith and any salvation presentations are void of repentance. God however has something totally different to say. There is no salvation without repentance, and repentance is much more than just saying the word.

If the premise is true that repentance is necessary for salvation (which it is – Mk. 1:15; Ac. 3:19; 20:21; 26:18-20; 2 Pet. 3:9), so that those who don't truly repent and turn from their sins will perish (which is true – Lk. 13:3, 5), the further premise must be true that God's Word demands repentance to be preached as part of the gospel message (which is true – Lk. 24:46-47; Mk. 1:15; Ac. 20:21), so that those who leave out a major component of a gospel presentation such as repentance, are preaching a perverted and corrupted gospel that Paul warned of in Gal 1:6-9 as a perverted gospel, and in 2 Cor 11:4, "another gospel."

Repentance relates to believing. What we see today is the gospel dumbed and watered down to where Jesus only needs to be received as Saviour, not Lord. The two biggest ways that both "believe" and "Jesus Christ" are perverted today are related to one other. The gospel is corrupted when "believe" does not include true repentance and "Jesus Christ" does not include Him as Lord. If repentance is ever mentioned in AWANA material, which I highly doubt, but if it was, it would very likely be false where it becomes a mere change of mind or synonymous with faith, since that is where the facts lead to. Jesus’ Lordship is thrown to the curb-side, and He becomes “another Jesus” (2 Cor 11:4). Jesus is the way to the Father (Jn 14:6). You can't get there going your way, and your way happens to be idolatrous and rebellious until then (Rom 1:18-32).

If people do not repent or know what repentance is, they will not truly believe. Their faith will be false and dead (Jam 2:14-19). Most who reject the doctrine of repentance will change its meaning to accommodate their rejection of its meaning. Some might claim that repentance is just a mere acknowledgment of being a sinner and others, turning from unbelief. Most of these will similarly claim that repentance is just a change of mind, which makes an easy cop out for not preaching repentance, since repentance then becomes synonymous with faith, or again, just a turning from unbelief. All of these definitions or descriptions of repentance are false, but AWANA don’t even go that far with repentance. They don’t mention the word or the principles behind repentance even once.

The same issue applies to Christ's Lordship, which isn't mentioned even once, including any principles associated. They don't talk about who Jesus is. They briefly use the word Christ and in other places Jesus and Lord, scantly, but it's all about Jesus or Christ as Saviour and not anything about Him being Lord, even though Ac 16:31 does say, which they quote, “Believe on the LORD Jesus Christ..." This corrupts as much who Jesus Christ is, so that you are left with "another Jesus" (2 Cor 11:4).

Akin to this absence of repentance and who Jesus is, is an absence of surrender. In repentance we turn and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, which involves receiving Jesus as Lord, which means to surrender to the King (Mk 10:21; Lk 14:25-35; 19:12-27; 23:40-43; Ac 9:3-6; 10:36; Rom 10:3, 9-13).

Jesus Christ will save indeed. He's the Saviour (2 Pet 3:18) but the thrust of His saving message was about Him as King (Jn 12:13), Lord (Phil 2:11), God (Jn 20:28), the Son of God (Ps 2:6-12), and the promised Messiah (Jn 1:12-13). The lost who genuinely desire salvation can’t receive a divided “Christ” who is only Saviour; they must receive Him as God, Lord, King, and Saviour — both as Redeemer and Ruler. The emphasis in Scripture is on receiving Christ as Lord. He is Saviour no doubt but the specific title Saviour (“Soter”) is found only 39 times in the entire Bible (24 in the NT), not once in Romans and only twice in Acts (we don’t get “Saviour” till 5:31) while the title of "Lord" 675 times in NT alone. In the article Salvation Requires Surrendering to Jesus Christ as Lord, I cover nine Biblical reasons that point to the necessity of surrendering to Jesus Christ as Lord for salvation. Here is a brief synopsis of that, but do read the article for further detailed explanation of each point.

  1. The word “believe” entails the idea of committal or entrustment in the common NT verb "to believe in/on Him,” (“pisteuein eis auton”) the verb found in texts such as Jn. 3:16, is evident, and is translated in a form including the word “commit” in Lk. 16:11; Jn. 2:24; Rom 3:2; 1 Cor. 9:17; Gal. 2:7; 1 Tim. 1:11 and Ti. 1:3.

  2. What repentance means and entails, as defined and described by the four Greek words translated as repentance or it’s principles in the NT, and the three Hebrew words in the OT, and seen in passages such as Ezk. 33:11; Is. 55:6-7; I Th. 1:9-10; Phil. 3:3-11; Matt. 10:39; 16:25; Mk. 8:35; Lk. 9:24; 14:25-15:32; 17:33; Jn. 12:24-25.

  3. Because of who Jesus is. Since Jesus Christ is God (Jn. 20:28), Lord (Phil. 2:11), King (Jn. 12:13), and Saviour (2 Pet. 3:18), the lost who want to genuinely be saved will receive Him as God, Lord, King, and Saviour, as both Redeemer and Ruler.

  4. As seen in the believer's relationship to Jesus as a “slave,” — a servant, same word (“doulos) (seen for e.g. in Lk. 16:13; Matt. 6:24; 1 Cor. 7:22-23). We become servants to God at salvation, happy willing slaves to God, bondservants.

  5. Seen in the much greater emphasis in the Scriptures on receiving Jesus as Lord than that of just Saviour. Jesus is Saviour no doubt but this specific title of Saviour (“Soter”) is found 39 times in the entire Bible — of which 24 times in the NT but not once in Romans and only twice in Acts (5:31 & 13:23) while the title of "Lord" 675 times in the NT alone. And most of the usages of Saviour are not even related to personal salvation, such as Lk. 2:11: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

  6. This is the example of salvation in the NT, that of lost sinners calling upon Jesus as Lord (e.g. Lk. 5:8; 23:40-42; Jn. 8:11; 9:36-38; 11:27; Ac. 2:21; 9:3-6, 17-18; 22:16; 16:31; Rom. 4:24-25; 10:9-10, 13; I Cor. 1:2, 6-9; Phil. 3:8; etc) and not one example of calling upon Him as Saviour. Jesus must be received for who He is or He becomes “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4).

  7. Surrender involves discipleship and we become true disciples of Christ at conversion NOT after conversion (e.g. Ac. 11:26; Mk. 6:1; Matt. 8:23; Lk. 14:25–15:32; 22:39; Matt. 10:42; 28:19; Jn. 8:31-35; 13:33; 14:1; 18:15; 21:20). In the Bible, the call to discipleship is a call to salvation (and vice versa), as seen in the NT (see Matt. 10:32-39; 16:24-28; 28:19; Lk. 9:57-62; 14:25-35; 18:21-30; 19:1-10; Mk. 1:14-20; 2:14, 17; 8:34-38; Jn. 12:24-25; etc), and in the OT (e.g. Jos. 22:15; 24:14-15, 18-21; 1 Sam. 12:20-25; 2 Ch. 30:8).

  8. Salvation requires submission and humbleness, which is tied into surrender (Lk 14:7-11; Jam 4:7-10).

  9. This is the historical belief of true Bible believing churches over the last millennia at least (the years we have record of), who embraced and taught that repentance and faith involved turning from sin and self to Jesus Christ as Lord and receiving Him as both Lord and Saviour, and receiving freedom from both the penalty and power of sin at the very moment of their surrender to Christ's Lordship for salvation.

To not teach and believe that surrendering to the Lordship of Christ is required for salvation, is to not only go against Gods Word but also to oppose what Bible believing Christians have always believed. And whether the person is an adult or a child, it makes no difference. Salvation doesn't change regardless of the age of sinner.

The Jesus that is Saviour but not received as Lord, is “another Jesus, whom we [Paul and Timothy, 2 Cor 1:1] have not preached” (2 Cor 11:4). Denial of the Lordship of Christ is a false gospel directly related to Roman Catholicism false doctrine. Click here to read more about why Lordship Salvation is Salvation.

Much gospel preaching today is focused on Jesus as Saviour. Faced with the alternative, people very often want to go to heaven — they want to be saved from hell. Jesus will save them and it's free, so they don't have to work for it and really can't work for it. They just take the gift by “accepting Christ as Saviour” or asking for the free gift. The alter call is made, elevator music put on, guilt poured on those not walking the sawdust trail, eyes are closed hands are raised (those desiring the gift), sinners prayer offered (by self and preacher) to “receive Christ as Saviour.” Conspicuously absent in all this is repentance and Lordship. They are receiving a divided Jesus with a false faith. Manipulation, and then fabrication of artificial finish lines for the new birth. I'm not saying that we shouldn't recognize Him as Saviour, but for Him to become your Saviour, you must receive Him for Who He is, and He is Lord. That means surrender and submission. And thats where Biblical repentance dovetails. When Jesus preached the gospel, He preached, "Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand." They needed to receive Jesus as the Messiah, the fulfilment of the OT prophecies, while turning with godly compunction from their sins, self, stuff, people to Jesus as Lord. Jesus talked about this at the end of His ministry, when He told the story of the Master who sent His Son to the wicked tenant farmers (Lk. 20:9-18). Their lack of acknowledgement of His authority and power was what had them in trouble. “I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him.” (v. 13). How does Jesus end this parable? “Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” (v. 18). This is speaking of salvation and the Authority of Christ: of repentance and of submitting in humility and brokenness and contrite heart to Jesus Christ as Lord, to His Authority. But if you won’t, He will clobber you into powder, like braying a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle (Pr 27:22). You’ll just be ground pepper by the time He is done. That was the last public message to the lost recorded that He preached before His death. There is so much of this, all over. Especially in the Gospel of Luke.

Many, many children have prayed the words "If I trust Christ as my Saviour, I will become a child of God," only to be sorely disappointed when they find out nothing has changed and they are still on the same wide and well travelled path to destruction (Matt 7:13). Many, many, millions have been deceived by organizations just like AWANA. North America is full of people that have prayed AWANA's words and become twofold children of hell, inoculated to the true Gospel and self-deceived to their lost estate.

Wouldn't it be Satans will to keep people (especially children) from being saved, from coming to a complete and true understanding of the gospel so that they might be saved? Of course it would be. In the parable of the sower and seed, the way side soil are those "that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved." (Lk 8:12). This is what we see actually occurring with these types of programs. While this passage gives us indication that a true gospel is being preached to the person with way side soil, how much worse will it be when a child is exposed to half truths or a false gospel, AWANA's "gospel," where they don't have opportunity to hear the entire truth so that they might be genuinely saved? I'm reminded of what Jesus said about the Pharisees, which is applicable here,

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." (Matt 23:15)

Though no quick prayer of 1-2-3 pray-after-me, of sorts is mentioned, that doesn't mean that quick prayerism isn't present when this is taught it frequently is. I know that personally, and everything in this document reads towards that end, providing the groundwork for it. What we know it most certainly presents, a diluted gospel of easy believism which can be read more about here: Does the Bible Describe Salvation as Easy?

Moving beyond the woke evil and false gospel/salvation, which each point on its own is reason enough to reject AWANA, there are yet other things that AWANA has been doing over the years, that are likewise extremely concerning.

3. AWANA Promotes Contemplative Mysticism and Emerging Church Heresies.

AWANA has gone full blown emerging church/ contemplative mysticism/ heresy. Among many examples, consider a few.

(a) Ken Blanchard and Lead Like Jesus Encounter. Through AWANA's prison project, the organisation has incorporated New Age sympathizer and contemplative promoter and false teacher Ken Blanchard’s Lead Like Jesus Encounter program. According to what Lighthouse Trails Research Project uncovered, an AWANA Cross Cultural Ministries director, who is also a Lead Like Jesus facilitator said that the project was using Ken Blanchard’s materials, which are largely based on Blanchard’s book, Lead Like Jesus which certainly includes contemplative elements, amongst a lot of other heresy and Scripture corruption (2 Cor 2:17) and wresting, which is an "error of the wicked" (2 Pet 3:16-17). For instance, in the chapter called “The Habits of a Servant Leader” a palms-up, palms-down exercise is described (p. 158), which is a practice also encouraged by the new age mystic and extreme heretic Richard Foster. The book gives a typical instruction on contemplative:

“Before we send people off for their period of solitude, we have them recite with us Psalm 46:10 in this way: Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know. Be still. Be . . . When people return from their time of solitude, they have big smiles on their faces. While many of them found it difficult to quiet their mind, they say it was a powerful experience. The reality is most of us spend little if any time in solitude. Yet if we don’t, how can God have a chance to talk with us?"

Blanchard has been promoting eastern-style meditators for over twenty years, and to this day is still doing so. In addition, he is a board member for the occultic Hoffman [Quadrinity] Institute. Blanchard participated in the Hoffman Process and said it made his spirituality come alive. We believe this experience he had through Hoffman is similar to what Blanchard refers to in his Lead Like Jesus book, when he says people who “quiet their mind[s]” during the Lead Like Jesus Encounter have “powerful experience[s].” This means that now children and families in AWANA could possibly wind up with the same experience.

Blanchard, who has been a professing Christian since the 1980s, wrote the foreword for a 2001 book titled What Would Buddha Do at Work?. In the book, Blanchard said:

“Buddha points to the path and invites us to begin our journey to enlightenment. I . . . invite you to begin your journey to enlightened work.”

Blanchard is connected with Rick Warren, who share kinship as ravening wolf in sheep's clothing. Blanchard endorses meditation practices is his back-cover statement on Jon Gordon’s 2006 book, 10-Minute Energy Solution, in which Gordon makes several favorable references to eastern-style meditators and the practice itself (see ATOD, pp. 164-165). In June 2006 Blanchard endorsed Thom Crum’s book, Three Deep Breaths, the book that inspired the Lead Like Jesus Encounter that AWANA is using, wherein Blanchard acknowledge Norman Vincent Peale’s role in his spiritual walk, an extremely unBiblical new age heretic and wolf in sheep's clothing.

For AWANA to include Ken Blanchard’s teachings into its organization, shows that the situation is quite serious. Absolutely no true Christian organization that believes what the Bible says would endorse Ken Blanchard or his program Lead Like Jesus, yet that is exactly what we find not only by AWANA but many evangelical institutions throughout the world, including the Evangelical Mennonite Conference (EMC). They use both. This point alone shows how heretical AWANA has become.

(b) AWANA recommends and carries the book "Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation" written by two AWANA leaders in their store, which teaches how to transform children, and not in a Biblical and godly way either. A description of the book is as follows:

"In childrens ministry, models, methods, and materials abound. How do you decide what direction you want your ministry to children to take? Perspectives on Childrens Spiritual Formation allows you to examine the four prominent points-of-view in the church today. You will then be able to make a more informed decision on the way in which your ministry should take."

In the section of the book titled, “Contemplative-Reflective Model” authored by Scottie May, a professor at the extremely heretical and unBiblical Wheaton College, a hearty promotion is given on centering prayer, the Jesus prayer, Christ candles, the Catholic Eucharist and a strong endorsement for contemplative spirituality ala Thomas Merton (a heretical, apostate, false teacher and Catholic mystic), whom she favourably quotes in the book. This is evil but apparently not bad enough for it to be removed by AWANA, or even criticize it for that matter, seeing that two AWANA staff writers responded with a thumbs up and only minor cautions to May’s contemplative approach. Overall AWANA believes that contemplative mysticism and new age evil is a valid approach for all Christians, including children, even though it is extremely unbiblical, in complete contradiction to the Biblical faith and demonic. Contemplatives meditational practices takes people into altered states and demonic realms. AWANA's dangerous endorsement of this book gives AWANA leaders around the world approval to practice this ungodly and unBiblical eastern religion practice.

(c) AWANA teaches children to "listen to God’s voice" in a two-way conversation during prayer, which is the goal in contemplative prayer, and a gateway into Christian mysticism, subjective mystical experiences. Naturally, those teaching error and outright heresy don't teach their people about discerning the spirits (i.e. testing the spirits—1 Jn 4:1-6), that there are demonic spirits that “speak” to people, and such is the case here at AWANA. "Listening to God" has similar connotations to the mystical and unBiblical experience of "the presence of God." The two dovetail, and where one is taught, the other one resides as well. But it is subjective and dangerously mystical, just like "listening to God's voice."

The Bible details the working of the Holy Spirit in the born again believers life, and absolutely no where is there some sort of formula or some kind of taught art (i.e., technique, method, system) in listening to God’s voice as so many so-called "Christians" and so-called churches are promoting today, including going into a silent state of mind so they can really hear God. If these “practices” were so important to God and so essential to the believers life, why aren’t they taught in the Bible? When the disciples penned the NT under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing to indicate that they sat in stillness entering some sort of sacred space and then began a kind of channeled writing. No. Rather, God inspired them through His Holy Spirit and led them to write the things they did, the kind of inspiration and communication that did not occur again after the passing of the last apostle.

The "listening to God's voice" and "sensing God's presence" is all about feel-good and mystical experiences, which dovetails with an emphasis on emotionalism, sentimental feelings, self-esteemism, and fake fleshly worship that has zero basis in Scripture, and extremely dangerous. It is a great tragedy that the focus isn’t on actually “Know God’s Word” and "Know the Lord Jesus Christ through the New Birth" so that they can obey the Lord in His Word and through His Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (Jn 17:17). That is all that is needed, but false professors and charlatans and false teachers look for something else, since the new birth they don't know and evidently reject.

(d) AWANA’s book "T&T Mission: Evidence of Grace" contains elements of contemplative mysticism as noted in the following quotes from “Section 4.2: Prayer” in the Student Handbook, keeping in mind this is all in the context of praying and talking to God:

“Ask your friend to have a conversation, but keep talking and don’t let the other person speak . . . Ask how it felt when you wouldn’t stop talking. . . . Ask a parent or guardian: “Have you ever been friends with someone who did all the talking when you were together? How did you feel when this happend [sic]?”
“God wants us to have a relationship with Him. One way this relationship grows is when we talk to God and listen to God. This is called prayer.”
“To have a relationship with another person, you have to communicate—to talk with each other. The same is true of your relationship with God.”
“It is important to remember that a conversation involves two people talking. We need to make sure that we are taking time to listen to God speak to us too.”
“When you pray do you listen, as well as talk to God?”

None of this is Biblical. It is contemplative spirituality and its of the demonic realm.

(e) AWANA is full-blown emerging church evil. They have re-written the high school level curriculum with the help of a man named Josh Griffin. Griffin is the high school "pastor" for the ungodly heretic and wolf in sheep's clothing Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. Griffin is associated with Doug Fields who was a speaker for Youth Specialties, then went on to be a youth pastor for Saddleback before returning back to work for Youth Specialties. Both Fields and Griffin have written books together and share a blog, and both are equally heretical and ungodly and far removed from Scriptural Christianity.

AWANA had a booth at the 2015 National Youth Convention put on by Youth Specialties, an unbiblical, ungodly, heretical, emerging church/contemplative organization of wolves in sheep's clothing followed by goats. The following link to a promotional video for the Convention shows worldly and evil rock and roll music concerts masquerading as "Christian," and the ungodly and Satanic (2 Cor 11:12-15) heretic Tony Campolo speaking. Women teaching men is the norm at these unBiblical and ungodly events (which is strongly opposed in Scripture). The director of Youth Specialties Mark Matlock tells his audience, “Youth ministry reminds the church that teens are not marginalized members of the body, but are co-creators and conspirators in the divine work of the church.” Nothing what he says here is Biblical but hocus-pocus and worse, "co-creators" and "conspirators" are words associated with the New Age. Speakers of the conference included such extreme heretics and ungodly emerging church personalities as Francis Chan, Doug Fields, Dan Kimball, Tony Campolo, Mike King, Stephanie Caro, Les Christie, Mike Clifford, Mickey Cox, Mark DeVries, Katie Edwards, Jim Burns, Alan Hirsch, etc, and Josh Griffin the M.C. for the fleshly (carnal), ungodly, worship sessions. That AWANA was associated with this event reveals how terribly unBiblical and dangerous they have become, though they have always been dangerous and unscriptural.

This point alone reveals how heretical and wicked and ungodly AWANA really is, and that its a bastion for wolves in sheep's clothing and a pasture for goats. Sadly the children are the ones whose faith is corrupted and destroyed, many of which become two-fold children of hell.

4. The AWANA Organization Leadership is Heretical.

AWANA has two CEO’s and one of them is a woman, and a heretical one at that. Valerie Bell's writings and experiences are plainly unscriptural, neo-evangelical, ecumenical, false gospel promoting incl. social-justice “gospel,” false testimony of “salvation,” faith in a false “Jesus,” association with the extremely heretical and evil World Vision (an absolutely apostate and evil anti-Semitic org., that sponsors and aids Islamic terrorism, amongst truck loads of other evil and heresy), etc. But the simple fact of her gender and AWANA position being at complete odds, is all the proof one needs to fully understand that she is a blatant heretic and false “believer.” Being a woman and leading men completely contradicts 1 Tim. 2:11-12, amongst other passages,

“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” (1 Tim 2:11-12)

This is plainly sinful rebellion and disobedience, and due to the open brashness and conforming to the wicked culture of our day, this immediately calls into question any form of Biblical salvation not only in this lady but everyone else in the leadership and board of directors for AWANA, who obviously approved of this. When women rule men, Scripture sees this as a curse to society. When it happens, it isn’t good or to be admired, and Is 3:12 reminds us that it is a shameful reality:

“As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.”

She shares her sob story online about how she came to be CEO of Awana. It was all about God bending her and installing an "urgent gnawing" to "lead a ministry" but the fine details of the lucrative salary package in the hundreds of thousands of do$$ars was conveniently left out. She is a wife and mother and thus walks and lives in complete contradiction to God's Word (1 Tim 5:14). She is a wicked rebel that does not know the God of the Bible, since she bucks against His authority in the most significant way (1 Tim 2:12).

The following report explores the subject of why “Women Should Never Hold Authority Over Men.

But as mentioned, Bell is extremely heretical, even further reason for rejecting her and AWANA. While Bell has some heretical and disconcerting resource links on her website, the one that likely stands out the most is Hungry Souls, the website of David and Karen Mains. For a number of years, the Mains have had affinity with New Age concepts and teachings as has been brought out by a number of different individuals (you can do a search on the Internet and see this for yourself). For example in a book written by Karen Mains, Lonely No More, she chronicled her journey into Jungian psychology, visualization and the occult, all of which are not only false, but evil. The spirituality that Mains describes in Lonely No More can easily be found in most occult spiritual transformation books. In another of Mains books, The God Hunt, in the section on "Further Reading" in the back, a number of contemplative/new spirituality authors are listed including Tilden Edwards (co-founder of the ungodly and heretical panentheistic Shalem Prayer Institute in Washington, DC), heretical wolf and emerging church leader, the late Phyllis Tickle, and other heretical contemplatives such asEsther de Waal and Kathleen Norris. Furthermore, on Mains’ site in an article titled “The Practice of Silence,” she writes,

“I became convinced that no deep spiritual growth could occur in my life without the practice of silence that allows us to develop the capacity of holy listening.”

This “holy listening” and the “practice of silence” of course is contemplative prayer, and that is absolutely demonic. There is no question that Bell and Mains share a spiritual affinity. In 2008, they traveled to France together and lead a group in a 10-day “pilgrimage.” Promotional advertising for the trip said:

"We will teach you how to “read” great art and then how to use those same viewing exercises to develop a contemplative prayer practice for the soul."

Among various teachings and practices included in the trip was instruction in the contemplative practice, Lectio Divina.

In addition to promoting the Mains, Valerie Bell shares her own views on contemplative spirituality on her website. On a page with the subtitle "Soul Care" (another way of saying contemplative, just like spiritual formation), it says:

"Valerie has a strong interest in soul-care as a way to find spiritual well-being and relationship with a loving God. Her approach invites people to learn spiritual practices that can sustain them through the most difficult life challenges. Her book, A Well-Tended Soul, describes the nuances of that inner journey and is a core resource to her spiritual formation seminars."

According to her personal testimony on her website, she learned these "spiritual practices" after a "cancer diagnosis as a young mother" after which she "struggled with physical and spiritual fragility" in spite of her claim to have "come to faith as a child." Though that certainly would be trying times, how did she overcome her fragility?

"Desperate to restore a sense of well-being, Valerie pursued God through a new-to-her set of spiritual practices. These healing practices focused special attention to the care of the soul."

"Spiritual practice" is contemplative mysticism and spirituality. Its an occult practice derived from eastern religion, and its completely contrary to God's Word as covered in the last point. It is beyond heresy and dabbles in demonism. Note she refers to the care of her "soul." What about true Biblical repentance from her sin and placing her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of her wretched soul? Her allegiance wasn't to God or His Word but to herself, and what

Other serious concern are found on her website and history. In the personal information she provides on the aforementioned webpage, there is really no substance to her personal testimony. "Com[ing] to faith as a child" could mean absolutely anything. Its certainly not a Biblical testimony of salvation, which then means it bears no light (Is 8:20, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is NO light in them"), since this is the only testimony she provides. And in whom was her faith? Was it a false "Jesus" (2 Cor 11:4), like the one she has adapted in her adulthood? Indeed.

In the same account, she writes that those,

"“fragile” years formed her spiritually, both deepening and authenticating her ministry voice.”

Obviously it was "another spirit" (2 Cor 11:4) that "authenticat[ed] her ministry voice,” since her "ministry voice" is in direct rebellion against God's Word concerning her exercise of leadership over men and and teaching of men (1 Tim 2:11-12; 1 Cor 14:33-35).

Bell's ecumenicalism and rejection of tons of Scripture about exercising discernment, judging, proving, reproving, marking (exposing error, false teachers) and rejection of separation which subject combined takes up more of the NT than any other, is only reflective of an unsaved heretic and false teacher whose only love is self, whose only faith is in self, whose only following is after her own fleshy and carnal lusts. She says she is,

“Frequently invited to speak at churches, conferences, denominational meetings and retreats, . . . appearances on radio and television . . . ongoing partnerships with World Vision, Hungry Souls, MOPS International, Awana Clubs International, Global Bag Project, Compassion International, and Willow Creek Association." (ibid)

Prior to AWANA, Valerie served seven years on the Board of Directors of the heretical, social-justice promoting, unBiblical, destructive, spiritually reprobate MOPS International, including three years as board chair through the end of her term in 2011.

These are all ecumenical, unBiblical, and extremely compromised and heretical organizations, including the churches, conferences, denominations, meetings, retreats, radio and television companies, but Bell credits God for these partnerships and opportunities:

“I consider myself beyond fortunate for the richness of friendships and strategic partnerships for which I’m incredibly grateful to God.”

This is how deceived neo-evangelical, contemporary heretics get. The God of the Bible is not involved in any of this. He opposes it, 100%. One text alone refutes this heresy of yoking with the ungodly, with the unrighteous, with idolaters, which is behaviour reflective of unsaved people, even as the text tells us:

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (2 Cor 6:14-16)

Valerie Bell has no qualms about positively quoting and promoting the extreme new age apostate and heretical emerging churcher Donald Miller, author of the very dangerous and unBiblical Blue Like Jazz, as noted in an article here, a report also founded upon the unBiblical and heretical social-justice "gospel" that neo-evangelicals and emerging churchers are renown for. None of the articles she writes or speeches she gives or "counselling" she offers contains Scripture, or the gospel, or warning or how sinners can truly be saved. Its simply humanism packaged in a superficial veneer of religion. Dead religion. It's all about Valerie's fleshly, selfish glory, and ZERO about God the Father's and God the Son's glory. She is simply a religious heretic who turns the grace of God into lasciviousness (Ju 1:4), and it sure speaks volumes that AWANA would have her on their board for years and then as CEO.

Willow Creek Association is a well-known charismatic, emerging church, apostate association made up of 12,000 members and absolutely loaded to the brim with error, false teachers, heresies, sin and worldliness (which is sin), replete with a false gospel and a false christ, and Valeri Bell's husband Steve is its executive vice president. I don't think even a handful of people in this association of hundreds of thousands would even know the truth even if it struck them right on the nose. Valerie and her husband are also members of the extremely heretical and wicked Willow Creek Community Church, which oversees the association and was started by the extreme wolf in sheep's clothing and church growth guru Bill Hybels, who pastored the church till recent years, and described his preaching as, “There is no fire and brimstone here. No Bible-thumping. Just practical, witty messages.” Precisely. These messages are always "upbeat" and practical to living your best life now. Such is the MO of a wolf in sheep's clothing, who ministers to goats only (Matt 25) who love to have their ears tickled with the fables of false teachers (2 Tim 4:3-4) who are only interested in serving their belly (Rom 16:18; Gal 3:18-19). This "church" is no traditional or conventional church. It has no altar, or choir, or organ, or hymnals, or song books. It has a rock band, lights and feels of an ungodly pop venue or night club. Its music ranges from rock to jazz to country to classical. Classical is neutral but the rest is worldly, ungodly, and completely false worship, including most of the modern instruments they use. Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) is the Soundtrack of End-Times Apostasy. This ties into how he started this man-centred, flesh-Satan-serving "church," by taking a survey of the community and building a “church” which would satisfy the lusts of the people. It is no wonder that Hybels would love Robert Schuller and his self-esteem message. Hybel is an absolute "enem[y] of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)." (Phil 3:18-19). The heresies and errors of Hybels would fill an encyclopaedia volume of books, but here are a few. He promotes a false gospel (2 Cor 11:4; Gal 1:6-9) from a dozen angles, including the heretical false social-justice "gospel" bandwagon of World Aid's, which has absolutely nothing to do with the Bible. Hybels recommends the evil and blasphemous Message "Bible" perversion, and promotes contemplative mysticism from whence Bell would've learnt this heretical and demented eastern religion practice and adopt it into the AWANA programs. Hybels credits the heretic extraordinaire Robert Schuller as an inspiration for his work, has promoted Schuller in various ads in Christianity Today, and is a frequent speaker at meetings organized by Schuller including at the annual Institute for Successful Church Leadership. He also agrees with Chuck Colson who called for closer relationships with and dialogue between evangelicals and Catholics, whom he claims to be true Christians, in his book The Body, which Hybels endorsed. He is deluded, a mental/spiritual reprobate (2 Tim 3:8-9), false teacher (2 Pet 2:1-3) and plain wolf in sheep's clothing (Matt 7:15), yet this is where Valarie Bell plays church at. I guess it is only fitting, but its also reflective of what AWANA is actually all about. Unbelievable to the horrendous heresy and evil present in so-called evangelicalism today. Essentially 💯% goats.

Like Hybels, Bell is concerned to "Change the World" — not as the Bible says which is through the true gospel, but through AIDS social justice-activism. Her website illustrates her love affair with the worldly, unbiblical, and ungodly false social-justice “gospel” which only reflects an unregenerate estate,

“Valerie is also a global activist, has ministered in scores of countries worldwide, and for many years represented the Global Bag Project as Director of Strategic Alliances.”

The other CEO for AWANA, Matt Markins, has likewise a false profession of salvation that apparently occurred when he was 5 years old,

“Matt knows firsthand the importance of reaching children at a young age. He trusted Christ for salvation when he was 5 years old. I clearly remember a kind gentleman sharing the gospel with me and teaching us through songs about the love of Christ.”

And that is salvation to him. It isn't. Its man-made, twisting what God says into something more convenient. It is serious perversion of what the Bible teaches about the gospel since there is absolutely nothing about dealing with sin, repentance, fear of the Lord, true faith, hell, Christ’s atoning work, etc. As one continues reading through his bio, we find it is entirely void of Biblical reference or service to Christ, or fulfilling God's will, or living after the Scriptures, but favourable to self, love of self, selfish glory, and worldliness:

“Matt[s] . . . greatest passion is consulting with churches and nonprofits in the areas of strategy, discipleship, family ministry, marketing and communication, hospitality and organizational structure. . . . Matt enjoys family time, traveling, carpentry, yard work, biking, and NFL football.”

These two blatant heretics and unregenerate false teachers are the ones leading to this heretical organization, so is it any surprise that its so heretical? They are the children of disobedience and wrath, who have a form of godliness but their lives deny it (Matt. 7:21-23; 2 Tim. 3:1-5).

They "consent NOT to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; . . . men of corrupt of minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself." (1 Tim. 6:3-5).
"These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." (Ju 1:12-13).
"These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage." (Ju 1:16).

Yet another important reason to reject AWANA wholesale. The implications of having Bell as CEO are huge, an imposter purposefully fulfilling her agenda of destroying the faith of children.


Tragically, AWANA has been infecting the brains and corrupting the faith of vulnerable children for to many years now and not only in North America but throughout the world, including in nations that are mostly pagan, such as Vietnam, as Valerie Bell reports:

“In just four years Vietnam has gone from no children to 47,500 clubbers. The leaders from Vietnam told us it is common for a club to run 500 kids with all of them coming to Christ."

Communism has conditioned these people to respond in submission to whatsoever is pushed or promoted from a sense of authority, hence the alleged "coming to Christ" moments for masses of children, both "as "individuals" and "en masse," and hence the following testimony by an AWANA worker, as reiterated by Bell:

“It’s the strangest thing. When they come to Christ, they fall down on their knees . . . not something that is usually done in the Vietnamese Culture.”
“Why do you think they are doing that?” I wondered.
They answered. “After years of communism the hope they are finding in Jesus is just overwhelming.”

Very likely not even one of these hundreds of children is actually truly converted to Christ, but very possibly made two-fold children of hell. That is tragic and makes their false gospel a damnable heresy and them false teachers (2 Pet 2:1).

AWANA indeed corrupts the faith of a child. For that, Gods Word warns,

“It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Lk 17:2).

Those, like myself, who question or criticize such techniques employed by AWANA as a perversion of the Gospel will undoubtedly be labelled as sowers of discord, negative, proud, judgmental, meddlers, majoring-on-minors, engaging in friendly fire, and ultimately as enemies of the Gospel. Many people apparently think it is more important to remain in good standing with people than to defend the truth and a pure gospel.

AWANA must be marked and avoided and certainly not utilized for the training of your children:

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." (Rom 16:17-18)


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