AWANA Now Teaching Children to Hear the Voice of 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.”
Apparently that is how AWANA Club students are being instructed to hear extra-biblical voices. But the Bible never tells us to pray this way. When we pray, we SAY, according to Jesus’ instructions to His disciples. We make our petitions known to Him (He already knows, of course), and we study what He has already spoken in his Word to us which He has breathed out for His children.
Unfortunately, this type of Contemplative Prayer is seeping into ministries that are now infecting little lambs:
“We thought AWANA clubs purpose was to teach children the Word of God through memorization. Since when did they take it upon themselves to teach children to listen to God’s voice in two-way conversations during prayer? Is this not a gateway into Christian mysticism?
Regardless of what one believes about hearing God’s voice outside of Scripture, how is it AWANA’s place to teach children to engage in possibly dangerous “conversations”? Will they also be teaching children about discerning of spirits (that is, testing the spirits – 1 John 4:1-6) and that there are demonic spirits that are “speaking” to people? We hope so. AWANA is supposed to be teaching children the Word of God, helping children to store up God’s Word in their hearts. They now want to teach them how to take part in subjective mystical experiences. Remember, this is coming from an organization that has been promoting Spiritual Formation for several years. How can we trust them to teach children this? Will it not surely be slanted by proponents of contemplative spirituality?”
LTRP Note: Today, the church is “reaping the fruit” of nearly 40 years of Spiritual Formation influence (since Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline was released in 1978). Lighthouse Trails has warned its readers on a number of occasions about the direction AWANA children’s club is going with regard to contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation) (see links below). In the letter to the editor (below our note), you can see that AWANA is now teaching children to “listen to God” (the goal in contemplative prayer).
We thought AWANA clubs purpose was to teach children the Word of God through memorization. Since when did they take it upon themselves to teach children to listen to God’s voice in two-way conversations during prayer? Is this not a gateway into Christian mysticism?
Regardless of what one believes about hearing God’s voice outside of Scripture, how is it AWANA’s place to teach children to engage in possibly dangerous “conversations”? Will they also be teaching children about discerning of spirits (that is, testing the spirits – 1 John 4:1-6) and that there are demonic spirits that are “speaking” to people? We hope so. AWANA is supposed to be teaching children the Word of God, helping children to store up God’s Word in their hearts. They now want to teach them how to take part in subjective mystical experiences. Remember, this is coming from an organization that has been promoting Spiritual Formation for several years. How can we trust them to teach children this? Will it not surely be slanted by proponents of contemplative spirituality?
Those who disagree with our posting this about AWANA are certainly entitled to that. But we have been researching AWANA for several years, and we believe this “listening to God” theme is just another stepping stone into dangerous mystical spirituality. Are we saying we do not believe in the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life? No. But we do not believe that there is some kind of taught art (i.e., technique, method, system) in listening to God’s voice as so many in the church are promoting today, just as we do not believe that Christians are supposed to go into a silent state of mind so they can really hear God. If these “practices” were so important to God and so essential to us, why aren’t they taught in the Bible? When the disciples wrote the New Testament, 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.
Obviously, the parent who contacted us and wrote the letter to the editor is very concerned. And we are too. If you have children or grandchildren who participate in AWANA, we strongly urge you to examine all AWANA literature and teaching tools carefully as well as discuss your concerns with your children’s AWANA leaders, and make sure they understand the dangers of contemplative spirituality.
The big emphasis in today’s church is, “Hear God’s Voice!” It’s all about feel-good and mystical experiences. It is a great tragedy that the focus isn’t on “Know God’s Word” and allow the Lord through His Holy Spirit to work in our lives.
Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Thanks for warning us about AWANA. I have been keeping an eye on their materials thanks to you. AWANA’s new T&T book Mission: Evidence of Grace is coming out in July 2017. Here are some quotes from “Section 4.2: Prayer” in the Student Handbook.
“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.” (Emphasis added.)
“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.” (Emphasis added.)
“When you pray do you listen, as well as talk to God?”
It is heartbreaking that many of what used to be dependable ministries, are now incrementally allowing deception to creep in. Probably in most cases this is happening unknowingly, naively and/or ignorantly. I used to be overly trusting of some. I now listen and read much more carefully, being on the lookout for falsehoods and red-flags. My skepticism has ratcheted up immensely; especially after watching many friends, relatives, churches, and etc embrace with enthusiasm the disguised garbage.
I thank the Lord for your great ministry. I have learned so very much. Keep it up.
We live in the days spoken of by the apostles, apostasy, false teachers, false brethren running amok. Everything you hear concerning God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and the bride has to be filtered through scripture. You cannot rely on teachers or even many so called Christians, dark days indeed. But, be cheerful, for we know what is to come! I recommend you read the book of Revelation, it may sound horrific at first, and quite frankly it is, but that is not for us! We eagerly await our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!!! Maranatha!
It caused me great alarm to learn spiritual formation curriculum was being used for the children’s Sunday school classes at my former church. My concern was validated when I learned one of the young children said she had difficulty telling if it was God’s voice or her own thoughts that she was hearing. I don’t know what her Sunday school teacher told her, but I think it unlikely that she was taught any biblical discernment. Another thought was I wonder how many of the children who attend church are actually saved–and not just Christianized–and yet they are being taught to listen for “God’s voice!”
Same exact thing happened in our last congregation, before they went full-tilt Warren Seeker, AWANA was being taught to young children, my son being a bit older was taught in Sunday school, which was still doctrinally correct, for the woman who taught it was conservative and godly. Now I hear it’s a free for all social justice, politically correct, washed down false gospel. Part and parcel of the great apostasy raging.
Parents! Please be aware what’s being taught in church to the children. It’s not just school we have to worry about.
God’s Word and the Holy Spirit are the primary ways God communicates with us. Because we can read, memorize, and study the Bible, we know how the first one looks. However, what does it look like for the Holy Spirit to communicate with us? Scripture says he will teach us (John 14:26), convict the world of sin (John 16:8), and he will guide us into truth with God’s authority. Exactly how that looks is a mystery, however we know it will always match God’s word:
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 14:26
Contemplative prayer is where people are seeking extra-bibical revelations from God. Telling someone to listen to God speak to us isn’t the same thing as contemplative prayer.
Sorry – my scripture reference on the quoted scripture should be John 16:13, not John 14:26
I always had grave reservations about AWANA due to the competitive nature of the programs and the inclusion of equally competitive games. I often wondered how many children came to the meetings because of the competitive atmosphere in memorizing Bible verses (without understanding the meaning), the secular games, and the material prizes. As believers, we are not to be in competition with other believers because our walk with God and growth in the knowledge of Him is a private, personal, and precious experience that happens between God and the individual. Nowhere in the Bible does it say one believer is to be considered more successful or more knowledgeable than another, and this raised a red flag with me concerning the AWANA program decades ago when my younger brother was a participant. As for hearing God’s voice, yes, the Holy Spirit does speak to the individual, but the message must be in agreement with the scripture. Since children often cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy and may not have a clear concept of right and wrong, this teaching of extra-Biblical revelations and actually “hearing” God’s voice is extremely dangerous and misleading. I do appreciate being told about this unsound trend in the AWANA program.
I too appreciate knowing what AWANA is doing. But have parents also looked into what translation of the Bible is being used? Different versions change the wording and omit complete sentences from the KJV. For instance the other day walking through the book section a Color Book Bible caught my attention and I picked it up to look. I was curious not interested in buying it. In Genesis chapter 1 where G-d created the plants and said for them to reproduce” after their kind” and the animals to also reproduce “after their kind”, the “after their kind” was removed and instead it was worded to be many varieties and that many varieties were good. It bothers me because with science wanting to combine animals and man giving man abilities that some animals have they are completely leaving that door for chimeras wide open. And what about versions that take out the male and female? G-d created us as male and female. It leaves open the door for all sorts of UnBiblical behavior. G-d loves the sinner but HE hates the sin.
Hopefully with AWANA and what they are doing coming to light, I pray that parents are also looking at what versions of the Bible their children and themselves are being taught from. Satan is out to deceive even the elect and to distort the word of G-d.
Bible scholars who are well versed in different versions of the Bible and other books NOT included anymore in the KJV all agree that the KJV is the most accurate of all translations.
Be aware that newer future versions of the Bible have already been written and will be said to be “new” and each and every newer version has eliminated a truth and will be slanted to everyone being one religion, as in a one world religion, and it will NOT be the Christianity we have known in the past. We need to be very aware of what is happening for both our children and for ourselves.
RE: “Bible scholars who are well versed in different versions of the Bible and other books NOT included anymore in the KJV all agree that the KJV is the most accurate of all translations.”
There are very few Bible scholars who are well-versed in the translation process who believe the KJV is the most accurate.
The Bible scholars who question the accuracy of the KJV do so using a naturalistic, critical text approach which denies the supernatural nature of Bible revelation, inspiration, and providential preservation of the traditional or received text from generation to generation in the hands of Bible believers.
They use the same critical text approach that the KJV translators used, except they do so with more available texts. There is no denial of the supernatural nature of the revelation, inspiration, and preservation of scripture, but we will disagree on the nature of that preservation. We have all of God’s Word, but we have some clutter with it that makes it difficult to determine the true reading in a few places. We are confident we have the true readings, just not 100% confident we can tell the true reading from the clutter in all cases.
The idea that there was one “Textus Receptus” that the KJV translators used is a myth. The so-called TR was compiled during the translation process from many sources. Read the forward to the KJV – it has a good description of the lower/textual criticism that they conducted (which is a valid science, unlike higher/form criticism.) Step one in translating is always trying to determine the true reading in the original languages.