Awana and Kids’ Evangelism Explosion: Teaching children to teach a wrong gospel

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”—2 John 1:9

Awana and Kids’ EE: Teaching children how to give a false testimony
Recently, a nearby Awana Club used Unit 6 of Kids’ Evangelism Explosion curriculum to “help” their 4th through 6th graders (T & T), learn to give their “testimony.” The instruction sheets seem to teach children to give a “testimony” based around asking James Kennedy’s two questions: Do you know for sure that you are going to be with God in Heaven?; If God were to ask you, “Why should I let you into My Heaven?” what would you say?

The instruction sheets DO NOT teach children to tell about how Jesus Christ rescues us from sin and death by his sacrifice and shed blood on the cross, and His Resurrection. Instead, they teach a false gospel which sounds spiritual, but trivializes Jesus sacrifice by ignoring the cross, and focuses on experience, NOT God’s Word. To me the seriousness of this false instruction is multiplied because:

1. It is “reteaching” unsuspecting Christians, a “right” way to teach children what is really a false gospel.
2. It is teaching a false gospel (a lie) to children who are believers, subtly saying that what they did believe is wrong.
3. It is teaching these children who are believers, to teach their friends and others this false gospel.
4. Often, parents aren’t even aware of that this is what their children are being taught.

Words or phrases not allowed to be a part of the “testimony”

Don’t use: Christian, Saved, Washed with the blood, Born again, Delivered, Conversion, Savior.
Don’t say, “I asked Jesus into my heart” or I received Jesus as my Savior.”

Create a desire

Your testimony is a special, true story about yourself; The goal is to create a desire in them to want to hear more; Remember your testimony is like bait when you’re fishing. If a fish gets full on too much bait, it won’t bite your hook…

My Comment
Our testimony is about Jesus and what He did for us and can be found in God’s Word, which He does not hide from us, nor bait us trying to creating a desire in us by telling us only a little of what we need to know of the Truth.

God’s WORD

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
—John 5:39

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”
—John 15:26

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”—Romans 10:17

Eternal Life replaces Jesus’ death on the cross
World’s Problems vs. God’s Benefits

In this convoluted testimony, the whole focus is “eternal life”, which is treated like the source, the goal, and provider of benefits, rather than the Lord Jesus Christ, who IS the ONE who gives eternal life and saves us from the bondage of sin. Instead of the children learning they are sinners and can be forgiven and have freedom from sin because of Jesus’ sacrifice, they are taught that they NEED “Eternal Life” which will give benefits from God.

My Comment
God does not play a game with people, nor does He substitute “eternal life” for Jesus’s sacrifice for sins, enticing unsaved people with experiences of “benefits” of eternal life. It is NOT eternal life that changes me; it is my wonderful Saviour and God, the Lord Jesus Christ that loved me even when I was a sinner.

Where is the concept of World’s Problems vs. God’s Benefits in the Bible? What is this supposed to mean? The real problem is my sin vs. God’s holiness. Biblically, we turn from our own sin, to Jesus Christ, our Saviour and God, then we understand God’s benefits, but our focus is still God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, NOT the benefits!

God’s WORD

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”—Romans 1:16

“I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”—Luke 5:32

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation…”
—2 Corinthians 7:10

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”—Romans 6:23

4 responses to “Awana and Kids’ Evangelism Explosion: Teaching children to teach a wrong gospel

  1. Pingback: Awana: Revisiting “Here and Now”, “Then and There”, and “Eternal Life” « Just the BOOK

  2. I have never heard of the “eternal life” approach to evangelism. It is quite troubling to me. I agree that a person needs to understand his problem before being presented with a solution. It has been quite awhile since I’ve heard a complete Gospel presentation. I keep waiting. The only thing these imcomplete gospels are good for is to train my children to be alert and to always return to the Bible for the truth.

  3. A team missionary just referred me to your article, Awana and Kids’ Evangelism Explosion: Teaching children to teach a wrong gospel
    December 8, 2007.

    I see two problems with your review: First, you have taken only one part of the 14 units of study, and from that, passed a false judgment. That would be like me taking only one part of a scripture, let’s say “For the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23 a) and passing judgment on the entire writing of Romans or the Bible.

    Second, you used copyrighted material without requesting permission. That is not legal, and as Christians, we must encourage each other to do what is right and fair.

    I encourage you to go to our website at and also order a Teacher’s Manual (used by teachers and parents worldwide) and see how the depths of the Gospel are presented to children and adults with completeness. Kids’ EE is a 3-year study, that allows children and adults to come together each year for 14 weeks to grow in their faith and be equipped to share with others. That’s life-long learning and equipping.

    Yes, Unit 6 is focused on Testimony. Many Kids’ EE ministries teach this unit for 2 weeks, and repeat it for 3 years as children continue to “work out their faith” and share the Gospel w/ others – which includes sharing their testimony.

    Please review the rich Gospel content of the other 13 units of study. I have not seen a more comprehensive study of the Gospel (to be grounded in our faith AND equipped to share it) than I’ve seen and experienced with Kids’ EE.

    May God bless you as you endeavor to know His Word and the Gospel message and share it daily w/ others.

  4. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”—Romans 10:17

    “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
—John 17:3

    Hello Marcia,

    I have removed the copyrighted material from my post. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

    It has been almost two years since I wrote the post on the EE testimony.

    I was under the impression that the EE testimony was the culmination of what had been taught in the previous Units, and was saddened to read the parameters the Awana Children were given to write a testimony. I also did not understand why Awana was using EE materials for teaching.

    It seemed at the time that the children in the Awana group who understand that a testimony had to do with telling people your sins were forgiven, were confused and had a hard time writing the testimony. The adult leadership questioned if those children knew the Lord.

    The children that wrote the testimony the way EE and the leaders told them to, were counted as being Christians, but not because it was evident they understood about getting their sins forgiven.

    I feel strongly that giving one a format to tell a testimony is unbiblical. When a person has their sins forgiven, they are excited to tell others, and do not have to be taught how to give a testimony.

    In 1978, I was a part of a Navigator’s 2-7 group and we were to write a testimony which had paramaters similar to the EE testimony that the Awana children were to write.

    I was in tears because I could not write the testimony and do it with the Navigator “rules.” Perhaps the reason I could not write the testimony was that even though I had read the Bible through for years, and believed Jesus was the Son of God and died on the cross to forgive sins and give us eternal life, I did not realize I was a sinner.

    A couple years later, when I was about 31, in my daily Bible reading, I read Jeremiah 17:9: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

    The Lord brought to mind several other Bible verses and finally I understood that I was a sinner, and repented of my sins. My Saviour rescued me from my sin.

    If you are interested, my testimony is on this post:

    “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”—Acts 17:30

    “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”—1 Corinthians 2:4–5

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