Shining Light – 03.24.23

Ephesians 5:11 tells us to not participate in deeds of darkness but to instead expose them. Awana has been doing Children’s ministry for 70 years. I thought this was important enough that I should pass it on to parents and grandparents. Not for us to worry, but for us to pray and to be aware!

Pastor Scott

Dear Matt, Katie and family,

There’s a weighty topic that was once on the margins of society and is now front and center, and it’s this: the transgender revolution. There was a time when children were more removed from the “issues of the day,” but that day is not today. As a matter of fact, children are now very much at the center of these cultural formation issues. As you know, Awana is all about the Bible. We like to say Awana is centered on the Gospel, rooted in the Scriptures and will never move even one inch off of the Bible. So as I write about this timely topic, I write with faithful, biblical conviction that’s rooted in the truth, grace and compassion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Why would Awana speak about such a sensitive topic? In the most simplistic response to this question, here’s why: The transgender revolution is a lie, and children are caught in the crosshairs of this aggressive lie.As you and I know, Genesis 1:27 says, So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. These words were also reiterated by Jesus when in Matthew 19:4 He said, … Have you not read that He Who created them from the beginning made them male and female?”There’s a famous quote that says, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” As Christ followers, it’s our job to speak and live the truth, even when that truth may be difficult or come with social consequences. Jesus himself said in Matthew 18:6, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” 

So, why speak about this issue? If we the truth-bearers of the Gospel say nothing, then we let the secular culture control the narrative, and that narrative is a lie. And this lie, unlike others, is resulting in the mutilation of the human body. It’s a big lie with significant, long-term consequences. Our only biblical option is to follow Christ in faithful obedience and to speak and live the truth in clarity and humility.

Our children need the truth. They need reality. And the Gospel is what’s real.

I received my first phone call asking for help on this topic from an Awana ministry director in 2017. Since that time, we’ve received an increased number of phone calls and emails from churches across the U.S. asking how to navigate this complex issue. Our response as Christians to this issue cannot be to stick our heads in the sand. We must shepherd and equip with biblical truth, grace and compassion. To respond to this growing need for help, the Awana team has created three practical resources for church leaders, parents and volunteers. If you are interested in getting equipped, consider doing the following:Read this Article. A good first step for anyone who wants to protect and prepare children to thrive in their faith in our cultural moment is to read this article, which specifically gives practical perspective and advice to children’s ministry leaders and Awana leaders/volunteers.Watch this Teaching Video. If you have a group of key leaders, volunteers or parents, this is a MUST-WATCH for your team! It’s a beautiful, three-part, documentary-style teaching video from theologian, historian and expert on this topic Dr. Carl Trueman. In this video he walks us through not only “How did we get here?” but also “What can I do about this?” as a parent or church leader.Download the Gender Identity Parent Guide. This is a clarifying, biblical and practical resource for parents. In today’s world, this sort of resource is essential! Please encourage all of the parents in your ministry to download this resource for biblical wisdom in a rapidly changing world. When Jesus was pressed on marriage and divorce by the religious leaders (Matthew 19), He didn’t become more permissive; He actually became more conservative. He gave the religious leaders two options: marriage or celibacy. At the same time, when Jesus confronted the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery, He was also filled with great grace and compassion. 

As Jesus Christ disciples and advocates in a broken world, we don’t waiver from biblical faithfulness when it comes to human sexuality. We align with Scripture and the Christian sexual ethic of the past 2,000 years. We also walk alongside broken people with the grace and compassion of our great shepherd, Jesus Christ, as we point them to love and live like Him.

I pray you find these resources helpful as you reach and disciple children and youth. If you do, consider joining us either online or in person this fall for the Child Discipleship Forum; you’ll find resources like these and so much more to help you disciple today’s children with resilient faith.Forming a Resilient Generation,

Matt Markins  
Awana President and CEO 

P.S. If you are considering attending the Child Discipleship Forum Sept. 21-22 in Nashville or online, register by March 31 to save up to $150. Register now!
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