Why – When Preteens Ask Questions [Guest Post by @jcisonline]

This post was originally published at jcisonline.com.

Last night at our Switch C-Groups I let my 6th grade boys know that we would be talking about some questions that they had over the next few weeks. These questions are about faith, the Bible, God, and Jesus. So it will be a good opportunity to ask and see if we can figure some things out together.

Tweens are beginning to be at the point where they want to see if there faith is real and also they want to begin to make their own decisions. With all that is going on in the adolescent brain, it’s a wonder they don’t just burst into these questions all the time. Providing an environment where our preteen students can feel safe asking questions about faith is essential.

But I was still surprised by the interest of the boys when I let them know we would be questioning some things. They were so pumped and interested. In fact one of our students was ready to go from the onset of me saying that questions were welcome. His question:

How can we trust the Bible is real and not some children’s book from long ago?

I love the authenticity that this question brings to light. This particular student has been asking questions for the last 2 years. He wants to know, but also has asked some people that have a different worldview than ours. It’s important to embrace the fact that this student wants to know that his faith can be trusted and that he can test it. So we talked about that for a little while last night and then we talked about Baptism.

But why open it up? Aren’t you going to receive a ton of stuff that these preteens have probably never heard before?

When it comes to tweens and questions, try to remember a few things:

  1. Questions produce a stronger faith. There should be no reason that faith can’t be questioned. And a quote that I pulled from Faith and Doubt by John Ortberg is this: Faith which does not doubt is dead faith.—Miguel de Unamuno
  2. Widen the Circle  – We want to add to the number of influencers in our students’ lives. Who is helping you answer your preteen’s questions? (Small Group Leader, Teacher, Other parent, etc.)
  3. Validate their questions. If we don’t someone will.
  4. Model a challenging faith. A faith modeled is better than a faith known. Model trumps knowledge. Show your kids how faith is real.
  5. Pray for your preteen to pursue Christ rather than just knowledge. I believe that knowledge can lead to some faith reformation, but not always. Pray for your student’s heart and their pursuit of God.
So when your tween asks questions about faith, try not to jump off a bridge. It’s part of what’s happening in their brain development and body development. Also get up to speed on some of their questions and try to answer some of them together by looking for truth. There are a ton of great resources out there at your disposal.
[box]J.C. Thompson is the Associate Student Pastor at Brookwood Church in Simpsonville, SC where he leads Switch (5th + 6th grade). He has been married to his wife Kristen for three years. For more, check out his blog and follow him on twitter.[/box]

11 thoughts on “Why – When Preteens Ask Questions [Guest Post by @jcisonline]

  1. Great post! We are doing questions this week actually. Here were the top 7 questions our preteens had…

    1. Why was Jesus born a Jew?

    2. What are the meanings behind the titles of the books in the Bible?

    3. Why are there so many different religions and how do we know that Christianity is the right one?

    4. How do we get to heaven?

    5. What is baptism and what is it’s purpose?

    6. If Adam and Eve were created together and of the same body how do we get other races?

    7. Who or what created God?

    We had a great time with these and some small groups are still working through them. One main point we had was that “Where you ask your question is just as important as the question you ask.” We talked about our leaders, parents, pastors, friends, teachers, and the internet and how God and Gods WORD is ultimately the best guide, the best SHEPHERD we can have.

  2. This is so good! One time in grad school I had to do a study of “Jesus as teacher” based on Mark’s gospel. It was quite interesting because what happens when you analyze each time that Jesus teaches is that you see he had one message—I am going to die and rise again. Besides this one message that he hammers home over and over again, Jesus answered questions! In other words, Jesus’ primary teaching strategy appears to have been dialogical and in response to the questions and concerns of his hearers.

  3. We just finished a 13 week pre-teen community group in my home going through the Dare To Be a Daniel (D2BD) Study and we spent 2 weeks just dealing with their questions. Here are some of their questions. We encourage our students to ask Q’s all the time….

    1. If my dad is Jewish, is He going to Hell?

    2. Do I have to have only “Christian” friends?

    3. Why did God give free will/choice to Adam and Eve when He knew they would disobey?

    4. If the Bible has answers to our questions, then how do we know where in the Bible to go to get those answers.

    5. Why Christianity? Why not other religions?

    I love their questions. It shows that they are grappling and trying to personalize their faith.

  4. We are just beginning a new semester in which I plan to have our leaders help to answer some of the preteens faith questions. I collected questions from kids and have narrowed our topics down to categories to discover and discuss with guidance from scripture and as many resources as I can find. Do any of you who have done this have information you can share with me? Sounds like our questions are similar to some of the those you received.

    Topics we’ll be tackling that I need to provide guidance for are questions about: Creation, Other Religions, Heaven/Hell, Trinity, Bible.

    Great stuff. Want to allow our leaders to have resources to answer questions accurately, personally, biblically and to open discussion while being OK with explaining why we don’t know all the answers. I think this is so powerful in allowing this age group to own their faith and be able to articulate it well and to remain strong when they are faced with other views.

    Any assistance/resources you can provide would be great. Working on Creation questions first: Who created God? Whey did God create Adam and Eve with the ability to sin? Why do we have so many ethnicities and genetic variations if we all came from Adam and Eve? What about dinosaurs? What about evolution? Amazing kids.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      We just did this in the month of November. Our format was similar, we took the questions ahead of time so we could pick thru the ones that were same in nature and get a chance to provide good answers.

      I don’t know what kind of forum you were planning on using, but we did it in large group and it was mostly a failure. Looking back I think I would do it in small groups for a few reasons:

      – Kids can add follow up questions and engage in the conversation better. There were many questions asked that sparked a thought, idea or a another question from the kids.

      – The large group alienated a big portion of kids at a time who did not have any interest in certain questions. This made them disinterested.

      If you are looking for resources. Lee Strobels “Case for a Creator Kids, Case for Faith Kids and Case for Christ Kids” are all fantastic.

  5. I’m new to all this preteen ministry stuff but I can tell you that I’m already looking forward to answering these questions and helping my students find truth from the Bible. The best thing about all of this is, they will actually listen to the answers if they ask the questions! I’ve worked with 5th graders at an after school program and they come to me with all types of questions that I get to answer and I love the fact that they listen and understand each time. I can’t wait for these opportunities to open up when this ministry gets off the ground for us.

  6. Craig – Yes we are starting with a brief Large Group time where I introduce the topics and maybe play a brief video or an object lesson and then spend most of the time in small groups discussing questions and letting kids explore answers. Our evening about Creation was good but there was SO much content and information to cover. Opened with some video. Could really use some help in laying out the discussion on the trinity for this coming Tuesday night. Brief Large Group time and then allowing small group leaders to help kids discover their questions/ideas through scripture and analogies. Any recommendations? Anything you’ve done that really helped kids begin to understand God’s triune nature and how that relates to them personally? Next up Baptism. Would love any suggestions anyone has.

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