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How AWANA and Children’s Songs Are Misleading Our Children

He squatted and jumped and waved his arms as he tried to remember the words to the song.

“I’m in-right outright upright downright …” he paused, confused.

I recognized it immediately. “Happy all the time,” I sang, and he joined me, grinning. Then he dashed away, leaving me to finish the song in my head.

Since Jesus took me in and cleansed my heart from sin, I’m in-right outright upright downright happy all the time.


TNT Ultimate Challenge Handbook from AWANAMy husband and I cracked up as we drove toward the church, listening to our son’s impression of an old man. His voice was a hilarious blend of hoarse and country twang as he read a story from his AWANA book to his brother and sister. But then he read this:

Kid: “Have you ever dug up an one of those ruins?”

Gramps: “No, but I think taking part in an archaeological dig would be exciting. Remember what I said about the Bible not being a science book?”

Kid: “But every time the Bible talk about science, it is exactly right.”

Gramps: “Good, you listened. Well, the Bible is not a history book either. But again, every time the Bible talks about history, the Bible is exactly right. Archaeological discoveries show us that.”

Kid: “Then why doesn’t everyone believe the Bible?”

Gramps: “Some people just choose not to believe it, Arthur.” (emphasis mine)

Scott and I looked at each other.


The kids tucked in bed, I curled up on the couch with the book. As I flipped pages and skimmed the lessons, my stomach tightened and my chest clenched.

“Scott, listen to this.” I turned to him, sitting on the other end of the couch.

“This is a lesson on how we know the Bible is true.

“’Every word of God is pure. That means God’s Word is not even one tiny little bit wrong. Everything He says is absolutely right and true. God never, ever, ever makes a mistake. The Bible (every single verse) is God’s Word. Therefore, the Bible is true.’”

I stopped reading for a moment. “That’s a huge sweeping generalization to make.”

“And a few pages over, it says this: ‘The Bible is historically correct. Historically correct doesn’t mean the Bible is a history book. Historically correct means that when the Bible does talk about history, it is ALWAYS exactly right.’” I stopped to get my breathing under control. “I have a big problem with this.”

I tried to quell the panic rising in my chest. “It’s one thing to say that the Bible is true. It’s quite another to say that it is ALWAYS exactly right. Scott, I don’t know if I can keep our kids in AWANA.”


I used to hear that “Happy All the Time” song constantly. It was on a children’s music CD we played for Elli. I must have been too exhausted or distracted before, because I don’t remember being appalled before.

Jesus makes me happy all the time? Who wrote this? In what alternate universe did they live? How insidious and disgusting to fashion this lie into a catchy action-packed children’s song?

To have that happen on the same day I discovered how AWANA seeks to indoctrinate children with fables about the historic and scientific perfection of the Bible was almost too much. I wrote a series on the fiasco of the teaching on the inerrancy of Scripture a year ago. Discovering that these promises, that Jesus makes us happy all the time and that everything in the Bible is always exactly right, are empty and false nearly destroyed my faith. I cannot allow these ideas to infect and destroy my children.

Why does parenting feel so much like undoing what others have done, un-teaching what others have taught? And why is most of this undoing and unteaching work brought on by churches? What ever happened to being honest about the Christian life and about ancient texts? Are we really that terrified of the Truth?

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