When it comes to answering children’s Bible questions, I ought to be a certified expert. As the parent of two teenagers, I mistakenly thought my days of answering endless inquires of “Why?” were over. But I think my oldest son asks me as many questions now as when he was a preschooler!
I also teach preschoolers and school-age children at church. These kids ask questions that would stump the most renowned college professors. As adults, we often see children’s Bible questions as distractions from the point we’re teaching. How then should we approach questions children ask? What can we do to encourage a shy or reflective child to openly query us? What are some typical childhood questions about God and the Bible?
We can prepare for children’s Bible questions by learning four basic principles.
4 Tips for Answering Children’s Bible Questions
1. Listen with your ears, eyes and mind.
First, pay complete attention. When a child probes you for information, wait to answer until you’re sure the child has finished talking. While listening with your ears, look at the child to discover facial clues. Is she afraid and worried or just curious? When a child is asking a question, stay focused by not allowing your mind to wander or begin to formulate an answer prematurely.
2. Give kids only as much information as they’re ready to hear.
Answer according to the child’s level of understanding. Follow up the questions with your own questions to discover clues to his thinking and to determine what he’s really asking. Ask, “Why are you asking that?” or “What do you think?” Giving a child too much information before he’s ready to process it can lead to greater confusion. So remain age-appropriate.
3. Be honest.
Some questions are very tough and catch us off guard. Resist the temptation to look surprised, regardless of the question. Some children try to shock adults with their questions; other children innocently ask difficult questions. If time is short, promise to talk about the issue at a specified future time (and keep your promise).
If you don’t know the answer, simply acknowledge that. Then promise to seek an answer. If the question is unanswerable, gently let the child know that no one knows the answer. But make sure she doesn’t think you’re avoiding a reply.