While teaching children’s lessons on faith, you’ve likely heard lots of tough questions. “What if Jesus isn’t really real?” “How can we really know that the Bible is true?” “Those miracles didn’t really happen, did they?” Such questions are spiritually scary for Sunday school teachers and parents alike.
Tough questions can cause a level of panic. Suddenly we’re afraid that all we’ve taught kids has gone out the window. We fear they’re headed down a worldly path toward destruction. We begin envisioning a godless future awaiting them and the pain and turmoil that would bring.
Hang on Mama, Daddy and/or faithful church volunteer. No need to panic! Nine times out of 10, doubt is not a sign that your sweet kid is headed to hell. He or she won’t necessarily walk away from God’s truth.
Doubt is a healthy and normal part of faith. Adults’ responses to kids’ doubts can make all the difference.
7 Tips for Teaching Children’s Lessons on Faith
Follow these 7 tips when exploring faith dealing with kids’ doubts:
1. Don’t freak out or dismiss kids’ concerns.
Appreciate that this child felt safe enough with you to ask a really hard question or express a deep concern. Don’t blow it off, but don’t blow it out of proportion either. Avoid any hint of shame for asking a question that may have taken a lot of courage to voice. Of course, some questions may just be random and off-hand. Ask for clarification. Say something like, “What’s made you think about that?” or “Tell me more about what you’re thinking.”
Before you try to answer, learn what children are truly asking. With all your children’s lessons on faith, remember this. Your reactions to their questions will greatly determine the comfort they feel in asking hard things in the future.
2. Avoid communicating that doubt is bad.
The Psalms are full of questions from David, a man after God’s own heart, as well as other writers. It is OK to ask God hard questions and to ask hard questions about God. We never want to squash that in a child. Encourage hard conversations with complicated answers. These are the conversations you want kids to have!
3. Doubt can lead to stronger faith.
By asking the questions and seeking answers, kids have the opportunity to strengthen their faith, not weaken it. Imagine if they have these thoughts but don’t seek better answers and instead just dwell on the doubt? God often uses this process in all of us to bring us closer to Him. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.”
4. Don’t feel like you have to protect God.
God is big enough for our questions. Ask Job. He also knows that we are thinking them, whether we voice them or not. It’s much healthier for kids to learn how to handle doubt and questions rather than just internalize them. My pastor, Sam Rainer, says, “In a free market of ideas, Christianity does well. Among all the faith stories, we have the better, true story.”