Leneita Fix wrote a brilliant post on how to answer student’s questions that leave us speechless.
I added a comment there, but I thought it might be helpful to also share a slice of an email along these lines that I wrote to our youth leaders.
It’s okay if a kid says something out of the box, like “The Bible is the most violent book ever written.” One approach I’ve enjoyed is to let them dig their own hole on stuff vs me debate them right off the bat – not to bust them, but to help them figure out what they’re actually saying underneath what they’re saying. An example:
- Student: “The Bible is the most violent book ever written.”
- Me: “Interesting. Why would you say that?”
- Student: “It just is.”
- Me: “You gotta give me more than that.”
- Student: “All those people in there died because of what they believed. Or God killed them.”
- Me: “So… what would you die for?”
- Student: “I don’t know. My friends, I guess.”
- Me: “Wow. Why?”
- Student: “They’re my friends.”
- Me: “Do you think that’s right or wrong?”
- Student: “There isn’t any right or wrong. Only what you feel. You can’t be sure of anything.”
- Me: “Are you sure about that? Think about it… are you sure about how you can’t be sure of anything?”
- Student: “Funny.”
- Me: “Can I offer a thought?”
- Student: “Sure.”
- Me: “What if the Bible is the most violent book ever written. So what?”
- Student: “Well… it shouldn’t be that way. If God is real then there shouldn’t be that kind of pain.”
- Me: “You think He’d do something about it?”
- Student: “Yeah.”
- Me: “He kind of did. But He did it in a way that still involves our freewill versus Him canceling it out. It’s why Jesus came to earth and died for our sins. We talk about that around here, but let’s personalize that for a moment – do you think if you let the love of God change you that you could stop even just a sliver of the junk in this world from happening in your generation? Maybe share Jesus with others? I mean, is that even possible for you? What do you think?”
Just an example… obviously conversations can go anywhere. And it’s okay sometimes to just acknowledge a comment if you fear it will take us way off course for ten minutes.
Sometimes kids just like to stir the pot without any real desire to taste what they’re cooking up.
The thought here is to let them take on the role of guiding a conversation, like painting a picture. What you do is provide the frame – which usually involves re-framing what they think they’re saying with what they’re really saying underneath.