Awana Clubs - Awana International and Jack Eggar - Emerging Church Movement
Awana Clubs International
Awana Clubs International - and the Emerging Church - Is Jack Eggar moving in the liberal direction?
Subject: Awana - Going in the direction of the Emerging Church, or
remaining on the traditional Biblical Course?
For the past several years, it has been clear that the national Awana organization has made several major changes. The question simply becomes, have these changes been made for the better? The changes by the newer generation are moving the Awana organization further away from the traditions of the past and away from the thinking of founder Art Rorheim. Is this progressive movement a good thing?
Awana ClubsThe winds of change are sending the organization away from its foundation
A major change that has upset much of the traditional base that built the Awana organization is the pushing of the Christian hard rock music. For the past 5 years, they have had a hard rock Christian band at their national convention of Bible quizzing and athletic Olympics. Many of their own leaders and local missionaries have been upset by this change. Despite dozens of letters and many complaints, Jack Edgar, the President, ignores the critics as the younger staff heavily promotes the new contemporary hard rock music. For example, at the latest Awana Convention, held at Greensboro, NC during April 16-19, 2009, a loud Christian rock band, played every evening in a worship service with loud ear piercing music. As the loud music began, many people got up and left the arena. One of those leaving, was Art Rorheim. Mr. Rorheim was very upset, as his face was frowning and full of stress. Several people asked him about the loud music. Mr. Rorheim made it clear that he was very displeased with the music as he made several very negative comments about the music. He told one AWANA leader, "The founder of the YMCA was disappointed when his successor took the YMCA another direction away from fundamental Christianity, and I also did not get everything I wanted either." The loud Christian rock band that played at the April 2009 Awana Summit was the Daniel Doss Band, see them at http://www.danieldossband.com.
Awana International Jack Eggar- Going the way of the Emergent Church?Awana International in recent years has been accused of going the away of the new liberal church theology, associated with Rick Warren and the completive emergent church. The Awana leadership has denied those charges and that association. But the strong push of the new Christian rock music indicates that they are leaning that way. The center piece of worship of the completive emergent church is the hard Christian rock music. At recent Awana national conventions (Summit), Awana has made a very strong push of their center of worship being the Christian rock band, complete with the frills of smoke and vapor, as well as the dark lights.
The new completive church has 2 major characteristics, a water down gospel that minimizes the Biblical admonition of repentance from sin, and the bringing in of the popular rock music of today. Rick Warren clearly teaches that a major centerpiece of the worship is to use the worldly popular rock music in the worship service. Pastor Rick Warren also stresses that when the older generation object to this new style of music and worship, that they should be ignored, silenced, and if necessary, they should be encouraged to leave. As we have seen a decline in church attendance the past decade, the Rick Warren and completive church promises a solution to the decline in church growth. The root problem has simply been that when conservative evangelical Christians place their children in public schools, 70% of them drop out of church after high school. Rick Warren has the solution, bring the back with a new contemporary worship service and the rock music. Rick Warren and Bill Hibols point to churches with massive numbers. Many pastors have tried the new Purpose Driven Church methods and have found that these techniques have increased church attendance. Other pastors have tried the new completive church methods and the results were offending the older generation, a loss of revenue, and a lack of spiritual growth as a result of the teaching of a watered down gospel.
The Awana International leadership appears to be following the new philosophy and teachings of Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven Church. Despite the objection of the older generation, the rock music is pushed in, and the thinking of the new generation dominates. By their actions, the AWANA leadership is going down the road of the completive church. Using Christian rock as their evening worship for every day of their national convention reflects of the exact methodology used in the completive emergent church. Their church worship is clearly emerging church. Other charges of drifting towards deal with the association of Awana with those directly associated with the emerging church method. To be fair to Awana, their literature is clearly Biblically based and is sound doctrine. They have had problems with weird art in their literature. For example, using art work of guys with ear rings in their ears and weird clothing. Awana International has been harshly condemned for this. In talking with an Awana official about this, he claimed that their objective was to reach out to the inner city youth and to do art work that they could be associated with them so that they would feel at home. While that has some interested logic, a counter charge is that most Awana leaders and their parents do not wish their children to have long hair and ear rings in the guys ears. They wish to have the clean cut all American look for their kids, and not to look like the inner city kids. The hand books for grammar school have been removed most of this modern commentary look of the art work of freaky looking kids with ear rings in their ears. Thanks to the Awana leadership for responding to the feedback.
In a current edition of high school manual, it was full of pictures of hippy looking kids with long hair, guys with ear rings and some inner city afro hair styles. The specific manual is the high school manual on Galatians and Ephesians. One Awana official said that they have a warehouse full of those and to throw them away would be expensive. To deal with the problem of pictures of freaking looking kids, one high school Awana leader taped black paper over the pictures before issuing them to kids. It is apparent that many of the new Awana staff personnel at the national headquarters have a very watered down Christian world view, reflecting of public school understanding and not that of the older Christian generation of the past. The new art is another characteristic of the new modern emergent church. The traditional values of the old school Awana leaders are for their kids to have the clean cut all American look. However the art work in the high school manual on Galatians and Ephesians and the Christian rock bands that have been playing at the Awana national conferences reflect the new style new generation of the look of long haired hippie Christians. This is a clear definite new turn from the conservative leadership of Art Rorheim to the progressive new generation thinking under the leadership of current President Jack Eggar. It appears that Jack Eggar has a world view that is reflective of public school thinking.
Is there any violation of scriptural principles in their actions?
To disregard the older generation is a clear violation of scripture. Look at Leviticus 19:32 "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD." While the leadership of Awana plays tribute to the original elder and founder of Awana, Art Rorheim, they trash his feelings and completely disregard his wishes. Is the leadership of Awana in violation of the principle of Leviticus 19:32? It appears that they (Jack Eggar) dishonor the advice and wisdom of Art Rorheim. They have chosen to follow the thinking of the younger generation and the Rick Warren types, which is to ignore the wishes of the older generation and to bring in the new emerging church style of worship. Further, the bulk of the older generation of Awana were from the more conservative original churches that were the first to use Awana. They also have appealed to the Awana leadership complaining about the new music, only to be ignored. This includes many of their staff and missionairies who do not wish to be quoted. Is it wise to push a new major agenda that is objected to by the older generation and a large portion of your members? From a pragmatic perspective, the Awana organization is turning their best word of mouth advertisers and contributors into critics. This is not a wise move and a violation of Leviticus 19:32.
Should we, "Follow the Advice of the Older Generation or the fresh ideas of the Younger Generation?"
After King Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became king. He had to made a decision to either follow the advice of the older generation or accept the new ideas of the younger generation. King Rehoboam made the decision of reject the wisdom of the older generation and follow the guidance of the younger generation.
A few select verses from 1 Kings 11:
8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him: 13 And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him; 14 And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
As a consequence of this bad decision, the Kingdom of Israel became divided and split into two kingdoms. Forsaking the years of experience and wisdom of the older generation cost King Rehoboam dearly. The question before us today is, "Are we also going to learn from wisdom and experience of the older generation or are we going to listen to the younger generation, go the way of the emerging church and bring in the completive rock music of the world?" Jack Eggar clearly is doing things that is very upsetting to Art Rorheim.
Granted there is a major difference in tastes and perspectives in music. What is the older generation complaining about? The new rock music used by the emerging church is very loud. Many studies have documented that being around loud music for extended periods of time results in substantial hearing loss. The older generation also dislikes the high power driving beat and the clash of the symphony of the music. In short they don't like it and do not call it uplifting, holy, or worshipful. Many of them will go so far to call the new rock music used in church to be evil and satanic and are greatly offended by it. A major common characteristic of the rock bands are the long hair and rebellion towards authority. The rock musicians generally do not have the clean cut All American look. The older generation wishes them to have a sharp short hair cut and not look like a anything goes freak. http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/bible/music.html http://www.av1611.org/rock/rock_noise.html
Many of us look back over the years and see how the Awana ministry had a very positive effect on their own family members. Many of us know young people who have greatly benefited and grown spiritually as a direct result of Awana. We all have a desire and a wish that the wonderful ministry of Awana will continue to the next several generations. We also know and observed the decline of the quality of the work and of moral values of the Disney Corporation that occurred after Walt Disney passed away. We have that same concern that the current Awana ministry is drifting away from the solid foundation that it was once based on. The original founder Art Rorheim is over 90 years old and is growing older and more feeble. Mr. Rorheim is no longer on the board and has no authoritative voice or ability to make decisions as he once had. He like many of us seem powerless to stop the changes that the current leadership is making. But we can pray and we can appeal to the leadership of Awana and ask them to return the firm foundation and the old fashion Biblical way of the past. We wish to return to the traditions of the past, not because they are old, but because they are good.
Jack Eggar Taking Awana Clubs to a New Direction
The above information has been sent to the Awana leadership by letter, email, and in person. It has been personally discussed with many in leadership roles in Awana Clubs, including Jack Eggar, Brian Rhodes, as well as original founder Art Rorheim. In addition several people and churches have written letters concerning the above information. It is clear from the words and actions of the leadership, and especially of Jack Eggar, that the leadership remains committed to the following the new course of action, and they have chosen to ignore the appeal of many. Will Awana Clubs continue to change? Art Rorheim is in his late 90's and he appears to be going to his grave as he sees the organization he founded changing to a different direction than he intended. Steps of appeal has been taken as we are instructed in Matthew 18: 15-17, but to no avail. At this point, we are at the step of action in Matthew 18:17, "And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church," It is very clear that Jack Eggar is in violation of Leviticus 19:32 and in following the advice of the younger generation and has rejected the wisdom of the older generation as a principle violation of 1 Kings 11 as discussed above.
As many of us look back with gratitude of the accomplishments of Awana Clubs in our children we are very grateful. Our prayer and wish today, is that form of traditional Christianity in worship, music, and in the art work be returned to the old proven path. Our prayer and wish is that the Awana Clubs of the future be the great Awana of the past. Pray for Awana International that the glorious work of the past will reach thousands more in the future. This page is not meant to be a memo of condemnation but to a call of repentance.
Others also having concerns about Awans:
Those wishing to contact AWANA Headquarters and express their concerns and opinion should contact:
The above information was compiled by Clyde Bearden, who can be
reached at email
Awana (an acronym for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed, from 2 Timothy 2:15), is an international evangelical nonprofit organization founded in 1950, headquartered in Streamwood, Illinois. We do not wish to be ashamed of this organization but to be proud as we once were.
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Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast ...
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