Teens have a lot of questions. And these question often pop up at the most random time, they are almost never on topic and they are always important. okay maybe not always but I’ve found 9 times out of 10 they are insightful, deep questions. My teens ask a lot of questions. A lot. Sometimes it takes us 20 minutes for two announcements because we can’t make it through all the details of an event before the questions begin. Who will be there? What do we wear? Will there be chocolate? Do you love us? What time? Where is that at? Can I wear footy pajamas? All questions that have been asked during announcements. And the questions don’t stop there, they continue into the message. But I really don’t mind it at all because it means that they are engaging, they are thinking and they feel comfortable enough to let me know what is going on in their brains.
But the problem arises when we are talking on one topic and their questions lead down rabbit trails. They are great questions but they aren’t on what we are talking about. What do you do? I don’t want to quench the questions, especially when they are such great things to discuss. As I was thinking on that a few months ago the idea was birthed to have a night devoted to their questions. Any question that they thought of we would work on getting them answers to.
Why? Why not just stop the questions and tell them that they have to stay on topic? Because I believe that asking questions is the key to engaging people. Questions arise when someone is wrestling to understand and to incorporate knowledge into the knowledge that their brain already holds. Questions make you face your world view and question it’s accuracy. Questions open you up to new ideas that have yet to be explored. Questions challenge you.
I have always been a questioner. Ask my parents. They will tell you that I was always asking about the things talked about on the news, words that my dad would use that I wouldn’t understand and things that my family discussed. I think that is where my hunger for knowledge started. I think it was also where my love of words was birthed. I came to understand that there were different ways that the same ideas could be expressed. You could use one word or ten to describe the same thing. I also saw that there was more to the world than I knew right then and I was never content knowing just that little slice of it. That is the legacy that my parents placed inside of me. The wonder of questions, the ability to ask and the knowledge to know that there was more to know. My parents never told me to stop asking questions and so I went into the world knowing that there was more than meets the eye.
I know many people my own age who don’t ask questions. They take what is presented, put it in their brain and voila, that’s it. The problem with this is that when your knowledge is questioned, when the world that has been carefully put together inside of you comes crashing down, that is all that you have. The problem with those who grew up in the church and ended up walking away was not inherently the church, it was that the church never taught them to ask questions, to wrestle through and to make it their faith and their belief. When you wrestle with an idea it becomes your own, you figure out where it fits and how. And you know that if it gets torn out of your life or it falls to pieces that you have other pieces to hold it all together.
But allowing people to ask questions can be scary because, what if we are wrong or worse yet, what if we don’t have an answer? It’s okay. We are human and in relation to how long the world has be around we have only been here for a short time. It’s okay to not have answers or for your answer to be wrong. That is the beauty of learning to be a question asker, you are more willing to take the leap to find the answer even if you are wrong – because the truth always opens more doors.
And so, I am teaching my teens the importance of asking questions and wrestling through what our church, our pastor, our friends and the world tell us. For in wrestling through it all Truth is always brought into the light. And so we will have many more questions nights when we look for answers to questions like:
“What do I do if someone in my family has fallen away from the Lord and they tease me about my faith?”
“Why do some people go to hell if Jesus died for all sins?
“If you ate someone who had eaten kosher their whole life, would that be kosher?
“What happened to dinosaurs and why aren’t they in the bible?”
“What is Islam?”
No matter how old you are, never stop asking questions. For in our questions Truth is revealed.