When you’ve had your kids in church since they were in the nursery, hearing sermons over the PA system, it can be a shock to hear their questioning the very core of what you believe. This process is necessary and healthy, as all sustaining convictions are tried and well-thought-out. Christ modeled both patience (see Part 1) and wisdom in responding to both the insolent Pharisees and His own sometimes confused disciples with questions of His own. He didn’t always serve up truth in a neat and tidy 5-point outline; instead, He seemed to value questions and challenge His hearers to search their own hearts. He also helped them get to the real root of their spiritual conditions by telling parables.
Responding with Questions
We’ve all heard parents or well-meaning teachers’ methods of imparting biblical truth characterized as “shoving it down their throat”; such an accusation could not be made legitimately of Christ. At the same time, He never ignored a question asked of Him. Certainly, He taught God’s truth to others, but He also seemed to recognize the value of thoughtful consideration and personal discovery. Knowledge becomes far more valuable to individuals when they discover it on their own. So the next time a teen asks you a question answered or at least addressed in Scripture, stop yourself from stating your position. Instead, ask them what God has to say about it, perhaps guiding them to relevant passages or study tools. Be sure to follow up and challenge their findings, if appropriate, but giving them the responsibility of searching Scripture and then allowing them the thrill of discovery can go a long way toward building a strong personal faith.
Responding with Parables
Perhaps you’re not the storytelling type; even still, you can use this teaching method modeled by the Master Teacher. Sometimes people are too close to situations to objectively evaluate the true issues at hand. Often, the heart issues involved can be revealed through describing other scenarios, real or contrived. You don’t have to be the one to create the stories; feel free to borrow from past experiences, knowledge of Bible accounts, or even extra-biblical literature. As your questions and stories point to biblical truth and revealing heart conditions, you’ll pave the way for the most important aspect of your response.
Responding with Trust
Like it or not, every individual has a free will to accept or reject the teachings of Scripture. In the end, no efforts of ours will produce genuine faith in another person. That’s where trust comes in. Trust in the Holy Spirit that convicts the hearts of people and draws them to the Father.
As you study the methods of this model teacher, you’ll realize that He did not have a one-size-fits-all response to all people, but unique ways of presenting truth to different individuals. While you lack His omniscience, you can ask your own questions and make observations in order to determine the true hearts of the teens who trust you with their questions.