Kids ask the best questions. Because so many things are new to them, they often develop an interesting perspective on what will later become common knowledge. Unfortunately, many schools are designed in ways that discourage questioning and a love of learning. Children who just a few years ago were full of wonder and questions lose the light in their eyes and begin to lose interest in learning new things as well.
Life though, can present unusual opportunities and challenges which should cause our children to question. When faced with a choice, especially a potentially life-changing one, we should want our children to ask a lot of questions. Hopefully, many of these questions will revolve around what God would want them to do in the situation.
Many parents join the movement to stop children from asking questions- especially about God and the Bible. They want their children to develop love for God and a desire to worship and serve Him. What these parents don’t feel prepared for is the ability to answer the sometimes extremely tough questions our children can have. What if I don’t know the answer? Worse yet, what happens if I tell them something wrong? Will they think I am stupid because I don’t know something? Will I “mess up” their faith in some way?
There really isn’t a need to run from your children’s questions about God and faith. Rather get double value from their questions by beginning to teach them how to find accurate answers themselves. Not only will you answer their current questions, you will prepare them for finding godly answers when your then adult children don’t have easy access to you.
As you begin working with your children to find answers, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Some questions don’t have simple answers or only God knows the answer. Don’t panic if in spite of your best efforts you come up with no answer. God tells us some things are just too difficult for our human brains to understand. A great example is the book of Job. Job’s friends come up with all sorts of possible theories for why Job is having such a tough time. In the end, God basically said sometimes we just have to trust Him and not try quite so hard to “speak” for God.
- Ask several godly elders, ministers and Bible class teachers what they use for reliable resources. We have more resources at our fingertips than at any other point in time. Information can be a blessing or a curse. For every one valid entry on a topic available to us, there are probably dozens which range from nearly correct to “you must write science fiction for a living”. You want to know which resources the godly people you know trust. Some may still be better than others, but you will at least eliminate a lot of the most questionable ones.
- Choose a few of these reliable resources and purchase or bookmark them. Include a concordance so you can find scriptures for which you only remember a few words or to look up all of the scriptures using a particular word. Bible dictionaries are great for understanding some common religious words we don’t use in normal conversation. A well translated Bible with great study notes is also helpful. You may want some sort of resource that covers Bible customs and culture. Also have a few Christian authors who cover apologetics. (Lee Strobel is one of my favorites and he re-writes his books for several age levels.)
- When your child asks a question, ask him where you both should look for the answer. Even if you decide because of circumstances to answer the question yourself, take an extra second before answering and ask where he would look for the answer if he didn’t have you to help him.
- Look answers up with your child. Any child who has been told by a parent to “look it up” when asked how to spell a word, knows the odds of that actually happening are close to zero. However, if you pull out the book or find the website with your child and then look through it together, your child will get valuable practice in finding answers.
- Ask your child a Bible question and have her find the answer for you. I write a lot of Bible lessons or work on projects. Sometimes in the middle of a project I would call out to my daughter, “Can you find the verse where it mentions such and such for me?” Most children will help you by looking up an answer for you if asked. It gives them practice in finding answers without your direct help, but with you close by if they get stuck.
- Caution your child about trusting answers not obtained directly from scripture. Even the “best” preacher or teacher can make a mistake. Some people teach error. Your child needs to learn to double check anything he is taught by comparing it to scripture before making a decision. Warn your children fame is no guarantee of being correct. Some of the most famous preachers can teach some of the most erroneous things. If the scriptures your child finds disagree with anything a person says or writes, train your child to be cautious and follow the scripture instead of the person.
- Don’t get so involved with trying to find answers to difficult questions you forget to focus your child on doing what she already knows God wants from her. Kids who enjoy mysteries and history can get excited by the mysteries in the Bible. They could spend years following “rabbit trails” leading to more questions and research. Ultimately though, faith without works is dead. Your child needs to understand it’s okay to have fun with their Bible research, but not at the expense of obeying God, worshipping Him, serving others and sharing their faith.
The next time your child asks a question about God, don’t panic. Be prepared and use it as an opportunity to teach your child how to find answers about God for himself. When he is an adult, he will know how to find reliable answers to his faith questions. It is a valuable faith skill for your children to develop.